We often say that someone has “made” us angry. Don’t blame someone else, says St. John Cassian. You can’t control the actions of others, but you have control over your own virtue.
Sometimes, when we have been overcome by pride or impatience, and we want to improve our rough and bearish manners, we complain that we require solitude—as if we should find the virtue of patience there where nobody provokes us. We apologize for our carelessness, and say that the reason of our disturbance does not spring from our own impatience, but from the fault of our brethren.
And while we lay the blame of our fault on others, we shall never be able to reach the goal of patience and perfection.
So the chief part of our improvement and peace of mind must not be made to depend on another’s will, which cannot possibly be subject to our authority, but it lies rather in our own control. And so the fact that we are not angry ought not to result from another’s perfection, but from our own virtue, which is acquired, not by somebody else’s patience, but by our own long-suffering.
–St. John Cassian, Institutes, 8.16-17IN GOD’S PRESENCE, CONSIDER . . .
Do I often excuse my anger or impatience by pointing to the behavior of others?
Could I use those annoyances as opportunities to develop my own virtue?
Father, drive all envy and impatience away from me, and do not look on the multitude of my own sins.
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