Of the countless Catholic couples who have come through Father T.G. Morrow’s office in Washington D.C. for marriage counseling, two remain imprinted in the priest’s mind even today.
In many ways, these two Catholic couples were the ideal; they were open to life, they formed their children in the faith and they frequented the sacraments.
But both of these marriages fell apart. The culprit? Anger.
“Anger is a poison,” Fr. Morrow, a moral theologian and author of “Overcoming Sinful Anger” (Sophia Press, 2014) told CNA. “If a husband and a wife are angry with each other a lot, it destroys the relationship. It makes it so painful that people want to get out of that relationship.”
I’m going to broaden the conversation to not only talk about anger, but general self-imposed unhappiness. I think a lot of anger stems from losing sight of what’s really important. When we put a little perspective on our lives it’s almost humorous in hindsight what we get so upset about. We get all tied up in knots over traffic, a late flight, a sink of dirty dishes, a slow loading web page, no cell signal, etc. And why? How is stewing over all these little annoyances going to make life any better? How is lashing out at someone over a pet peeve going to foster the good in that relationship?
As I wrote in the introduction to The Rosary for the Rest of Us, one of the main benefits of praying the rosary is that it offers me the proper perspective on life. The rosary reminds me that our world isn’t perfect, but that’s okay because this world is only temporary. We are meant to spend eternity in the joy of God’s heavenly kingdom. Rosary prayer is all about focusing on that glorious kingdom to come, not dwelling on the imperfect worldly kingdom that is.
I picture our Mother Mary in Heaven shaking her head in disbelief when she sees what we get so upset about. She must think what I think when one of my kids melts down over nothing. The other day my three-year old son had a fit because I dared serve him a waffle cut in half instead of whole. My explanation that the waffle would taste the same didn’t comfort him. All I could think was, “Really? All this unhappiness over a cut up waffle?” I think Mary must be sitting in Heaven also asking herself, “Really?” Because from her perspective, we must come across like little three-year olds — bringing so much unhappiness on ourselves over ultimately trivial problems. Even the “big” problems in life such as finances and health are as significant in the heavenly perspective as a waffle cut in half.
Let’s look at the Fifth Glorious Mystery of the rosary. When we meditate on Mary crowned Queen of Heaven, let’s ask for her intercession, especially when it comes to controlling anger and gaining a more heavenly perspective. She wants nothing more than for us to live for her son, Jesus Christ. And when we humbly ask for her help, she will gladly offer it. But the key is that we have to understand what holds us back from truly living for Heaven. We must realize that when we’re angry about the trivial aspects of this world, we really don’t have a heavenly perspective because we are worrying too much about the here and now.
I’m not saying that keeping a heavenly perspective is easy. If it was then there really wouldn’t be much need to regularly pray the rosary. But because living for God’s kingdom is difficult, we have the rosary, our gift from Mary Queen of Heaven, to help manage our anger and keep us focused on what’s really important.
I’ll leave you with this last piece of advice from the Catholic News Agency article. If the Golden Rule is about treating others as you want to be treated, then I believe this should be the Silver Rule:
“People get angry about little, trifling things,” Father T.G. Morrow said. “You have to say “Is this worth getting angry about?” If not, then you have to let it go. Just forget it.”
Want more help controlling anger and living happier? My free e-book of rosary intentions can help.