Anger is the sharpest passion…it causes the soul to be savage all day long, but especially in prayers it seizes the nous (spirit), reflecting back the face of the distressing person. Evagrius of Pontus (345-399) , Praktikos (found on Early Church Texts,, public pages)

If sadness fogs the window to the soul, leeching color and definition from everyone and everything in life,  anger shatters the glass, leaving everything broken and jagged. Anger fractures the soul, and the pieces of life are blown out of order. Everyone and everything seen through anger has sharp edges and ill intent. The spirit in the clutches of anger is in shards, a danger to itself and others.

Anger is likely to spread from a particular event or context to life in general, growing in intensity until every aspect of life is filled with it. Unless it is released, it will continue to shatter life into smaller and sharper pieces. So the angry soul becomes the savage soul, breaking others as it was broken. Turned inward or outward, anger destroys.

Sometimes destruction is necessary. Anger can provide strength and energy to shatter an abusive reality and make possible another reality. But broken reality is broken reality. Anger cannot mend the shattered glass or heal the heart, mind, and soul. Evagrius is right, if anger isn’t given over to God, the soul will find distress in every facet of life – even prayer.

When anger is given to God, God will take that gift and return it, transformed by love. What is it then? Peace.

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