Be Ye Irate, and Sin Not
In the present day pacifist atmosphere where almost every militant virtue is forbidden, sacrificed on the altar of ecumenism and inter-religious dialogue, it is encouraging to hear the words of St. Bernard and St. Robert Bellarmine advising us to become irate if we do not want to fall into sin. Both Doctors of the Church refer to Psalm 4:5, St. Bernard in a letter to Blessed Pope Eugene III referring to a conniving religious who fooled the Pope to gain a promotion; St. Robert Bellarmine in his comments on the Psalms.
St. Bernard to Eugene III
Finally to satisfy my conscience, I believe I must add what Scripture tells us to do: Be ye irate, and sin not (Ps 4:5). Indeed, you would truly sin should you not become irate and strongly indignant against the charlatan who so cunningly dared to fool you.
(Obras completas del Doctor Melífluo San Bernardo, Abad de Claraval,
Barcelona: Rafael Cassuleras, 1929, vol. 5, Carta 268, pp. 557)
St. Robert Bellarmine
Be ye irate, and sin not: the things you say in your hearts, be sorry for them upon your beds (Ps 4:4).
After making a very grave accusation and admonition to cause men to repent, the Holy Ghost instructs them how they should act and teaches them to exercise a holy ire and to resist wicked desires in order to avoid sin. But if they were to sin gravely, they should be sad and repentant, and not content with merely avoiding evil but offering the sacrifice of justice by doing good.
Be ye irate and sin not – this means become irate at your corrupted nature, its wicked and rebellious movements which are the root and beginning of all sin. Resist them so that you sin not. And for that the ire of God is given to us as His own strength (as St. Basil teaches in Oratione de Ira). … We must fear and tremble when the head of the serpent appears, i.e., evil thoughts.
The things you say in your hearts, be sorry for them upon your beds - must be understood as this command: Repent for those things you have said in your hearts when you are alone in your bedroom and be silent about them. The meaning is this: At night when you are alone in your room free from any other care, you must analyze before God and before the truth all the wrong things you did and thought in your heart. For these you must repent and be silent.
(Explanatio in Psalmos, Paris: Louis Vives, 1877, vol 1, p. 25)
Posted June 19, 2010