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Why doesn’t God give me the grace to overcome my quick temper?

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Full Question

I’m a practicing Catholic but can’t seem to knock a quick temperament. I can be praying one second and yelling the next. I beg God for grace to overcome my faults, but why is it so long in forthcoming?


Your quick temper is your way to heaven. It is the cross that you need. Our crosses do us the favor of continually reminding us that we need him. They humble us by showing us how self-centered we are. We need to live our lives on his terms—not ours. I suggest that you spend some time daily going over in your mind all the ways he suffered for you on Good Friday and thank him. That God would allow himself to suffer to such a degree for people he created from nothing—and then die for them—is far more generosity than you and I can imagine. Nothing can bring us some perspective faster than this.

Answered by: Fr. Vincent Serpa O.P.


1 comment

  1. Patrick Gannon Reply

    I have my own theory about this because I used to have the same problem. I think it is a problem that is tied to beliefs – not necessarily just religious beliefs, but that is the example I will use here.

    I theorize that certain emotions are the result of conflicts in the brain; and this may apply even more as the level of intelligence increases and one becomes more cognitively aware of the conflict. The conflict arises for a very simple reason in the case of religion. Our brains know, beyond any reasonable doubt, that there is no objective, empirical evidence for gods or afterlives. Intelligent, educated people all know this to be true. If evidence existed, there would be no need for forums such as this to debate it. So, our brains “know” beyond any reasonable doubt, that they don’ t know if there are gods or afterlife – but we tell them that there are anyway – through beliefs. The brain knows it doesn’t know, but it is told that it does know that which it knows that it doesn’t know – see the conflict?

    I used to have anger issues that have largely gone away, I think, because I eliminated this conflict in my brain. I realized and accepted that I don’t know. There may be gods and afterlives, there may not be. The only thing I know for sure is that I don’t know and neither does anyone else. It means my brain is still very busy looking at the possibilities; but I’m not lying to it anymore, and as a result it doesn’t punish me (and those nearby) with outbursts of anger like it used to. I would not be at all surprised if neurologists discover some day that belief-conflicts are responsible for a whole range of personal and social problems such as anger.

    I figure that if there really is a god, and it really cares about me, that the story of the talents will be the most important thing for deciding if I used my time here wisely. That story says that we should use the tools and gifts we are given; the most important of which are intelligence, ability to reason, and to exercise critical thinking. I look at the punishment for the dude who didn’t use what he was given…. “30 And cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

    Let’s stop lying to ourselves and simply admit we don’t know. That’s scary – yes; but it’s truth, and truth is usually best in the long run.

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