Thursday, April 16, 2015

Giotto: The Virtues and Vices ~ Wrath

Does anyone nourish anger against another and expect healing from the LORD? Can one refuse mercy to a sinner like oneself, yet seek pardon for one’s own sins? If a mere mortal cherishes wrath, who will forgive his sins? Remember your last days and set enmity aside; remember death and decay, and cease from sin! Sirach 28:3-6
Know this, my dear brothers: everyone should be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath, for the wrath of a man does not accomplish the righteousness of God. James 1:19-20
If we chance to be among heathens, let us thus stop their mouths. without wrath, without harshness. For if we do it with wrath, it no longer seems to be the boldness (of one who is confident of his cause,) but passion: but if with gentleness, this is boldness indeed. For in one and the same thing success and failure cannot possibly go together. The boldness is a success: the anger is a failure. Therefore, if we are to have boldness, we must be clean from wrath that none may impute our words to that. . . . Let us then be clean from wrath. The Holy Spirit dwells not where wrath is: cursed is the wrathful. It cannot be that anything wholesome should approach, where wrath goes forth. For as in a storm at sea, great is the tumult, loud the clamor, and then would be no time for lessons of wisdom: so neither in wrath. John Chrysostom, Homily 17 on Acts of the Apostles

We've seen this bared chest before. But while Caiaphas was smug and the angel was anguished, this woman is just angry. Head thrown back, hair let down, a kind of maniacal gleam in her eyes, she is out of control. Unlike her opposite number, Temperance, she is unbridled. 


In the list of capital sins that is commonly used today, we use the word anger  instead of wrath, but wrath is not quite the same as anger. It is anger multiplied and it wants to exact punishment. 

It was hard to find scriptures and quotes about wrath as a vice. In the scripture, the word wrath is used almost exclusively for the wrath of God; most of the Church Fathers, when they discuss wrath, are talking about the wrath of God; and the wrath of God is always a response to sin or evil. The wrath of man is, in a way, its own punishment. The wrathful man, says St. John Chrysostom is cursed--nothing wholesome will approach him.


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