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How to calm your anger like St Francis de Sales

St Francis de Sales was a Bishop of Geneva. He became noted for his deep faith and his gentle approach to the religious divisions in his land resulting from the Protestant Reformation. (from Wikipedia) And therefore is known as the “Gentleman Saint” and usually has great levelheaded counsel on dealing with difficult emotions.

The Saint provides a powerful testimony of life and encourages us to deal with the initial feelings of anger.

“A mountain man with a rather energetic and strong-willed temperament, he learned to control himself so well that, with the grace of God, he became a model of patience and gentleness,” says Edwige Billot in his book “Et si les saints nous coachaient sur nos émotions?

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He says that an “appetite for revenge” usually accompanies anger. And gives counsel from his own experience that the best way to counter anger is to be on guard constantly while practicing daily gentleness. 

If we can sense the anger at its very beginning, it will be a lot easier to control it before it takes over.

He writes, in the Introduction to the Devout Life:

“At the first sign of anger, collect yourself gently and seriously, not hastily or with impetuosity,”

He also wrote a prayer for help finding the path back to gentleness when anger seeks to overtake him. This prayer should be used often, even in moments of peace, to ready the heart for trials:

Prayer

O Lord, with your help, I want to practice gentleness in daily encounters and annoyances. As soon as I realize that anger is kindled in me, I will collect myself, not with violence but gently, and I will seek to restore my heart to peace. Knowing that I can do nothing alone, I will take care to call on You for help, as the Apostles did when they were tossed by the raging sea. 

Teach me to be gentle with all, even with those who offend me or are opposed to me, and even with myself, not burdening myself because of my faults. When I fall, in spite of my efforts, I will gently pick myself up and say: “Come on, my poor heart, let’s get up and leave this pit forever. Let’s have recourse to the Mercy of God, and He will help us.” Amen.

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