PRIDE: THE ENEMY OF LOVE OF GOD AND LOVE OF OUR NEIGHBOUR
“KNOW THY ENEMY”, Sun Tzu wrote in his book, “The Art of War”. It has always been said that in order to win a battle, one must know not only one’s logistics and limitations but the enemy as well in order to prepare the strategy and defend one’s self against the attacks of the adversary.
CHRISTIAN LIFE, THE PATH TOWARDS LOVE OF GOD, TOWARDS HOLINESS, IS A SPIRITUAL BATTLE. In this combat, many people get lost because they do not know who the 1st enemy is. It is not the devil…but one’s self! In particular, the foe against which we have to fight constantly within us is our PRIDE.
The problem, however, is that MANY CHRISTIANS DO NOT KNOW WHAT PRIDE IS ALL ABOUT, NOR ITS SYMPTOMS; thus, they fall into the trap of not realising that the enemy usually comes from within and not from without, and oftentimes, they erroneously attribute it to one’s temperament or personality. Hence, the enemy gets the upper hand.
WHAT IS PRIDE?
Pride consists in the DISORDERED LOVE OF ONESELF or as St. Thomas puts it, “THE DISORDERED APPETITE FOR ONE’S OWN EXCELLENCE” (S. Th., II–II, q. 162, a. 2, c.).
- It IS THE ORIGIN OF ALMOST ALL EVILS, threatening not only the PERSON himself, but also his relationship with OTHERS —thus, the entire family and society— and with GOD. How many heated discussions, fights, insults, vengeance, envy, hatred… marital separations and divorces, lost vocations, injustices…wars…eternal perdition (!) could have been avoided if only people knew how to swallow their pride!
- PRIDE WEAKENS ONE’S RELATIONSHIP WITH OTHERS AND WITH GOD because pride generally ENCLOSES THE PERSON INTO HIMSELF, WITHIN THE LIMITED BOUNDARIES OF HIS EGOISM. “The beginning of man’s pride is to depart from the Lord; his heart has forsaken his Maker” (Sir 10:12). And God has been clear how pride displeases Him: “Pride and arrogance and the way of evil and perverted speech I hate” (Prov 8:13). “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble” (1 Pet 5:5).
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF A PRIDE?
- The proud person is CENTERED ON HIS OWN SELF, things and interests: all his efforts are directed to satisfy his desires, his ambitions and his worldly pleasures. What ultimately motivates him to act is what will benefit him, what interests him, what will please him.
- As such, pride leads to EGOISM, which in turn, leads to BLINDNESS. He is incapable of seeing the needs of others, nor sacrificing himself to help others because it would require him his time, money, effort, and self-abnegation.
- Thus pride makes one incapable of TRUE LOVE which demands self-giving, sacrifice and renunciation. In the end, THE PROUD PERSON LOVES ONLY HIMSELF OVER AND ABOVE OTHER CREATURES, AND GOD, thereby, converting his “I” in his own ‘god’ and idol.
- Pride also leads one to see himself SUPERIOR over other people. He considers himself entitled to their service, attention, admiration and obedience. This disordered superiority complex has myriad consequences:
- The proud person tends to FREQUENTLY SPEAK ABOUT HIMSELF, of his achievements, of his success, of his illness, of his misfortunes, wanting to be the CENTER OF ATTENTION even to the point of provoking it artificially and to be consoled and pitied by the others.
- He tends to IMPOSE his opinions over other people, wanting always to HAVE THE LAST SAY because he is (blindly) convinced that HE POSSESSES THE TRUTH. As such, he DOES NOT TOLERATE TO BE CONTRADICTED and when people contradict him, he reacts with anger or criticism, defending his position in an impetuous and uneducated manner.
- This superior attitude IMPEDES him to ACKNOWLEDGE HIS MISTAKES, TO ASK FORGIVENESS, to say sorry, for he believes that he is always in the truth, and thus inerrable, that is, incapable of committing errors. As a consequence, he is blind to acknowledge his faults and sins, and thus, of being converted and receiving God’s grace and mercy.
- He abhors making apologies. Worse still, when others ask his forgiveness, he tends to humiliate them.
- Oftentimes, in order to have the pleasure of being noticed, he takes on EXTREME POSITIONS.
- He tends to COMPARE himself with others and if he realizes that others are much better than him, he loses his peace due to envy, anxiety and worse, even recurs to harsh judgment, calumny, and defamation to debase those who surpass him.
- The proud person is very SENSITIVE to what other people think or say about him.
- He easily gets discouraged and irritated when he realizes that he did not cause a good impression on others.
- This sickened hypersensitivity leads the proud to rancor and harbor grudges.
- He frequently finds a “SECOND, HIDDEN INTENTION” to what people do or say about him and easily feels offended by the imagined “assault” on his integrity, or the invented mockery directed towards him.
- This is a source of frequent INTERIOR COMPLICATIONS on the part of a proud person who suffers unnecessarily because of his uncontrolled imagination.
- Since he considers himself SUPERIOR over others, he is INTOLERANT to receive any help from other people and RESISTS TO BE SUBJECTED TO OTHERS, resulting to frequent clashes with those who are in authority, in DISOBEDIENCE, HARSH CRITICISM and REBELLION.
Dear friends, ALL OF US HAVE TO FIGHT DAILY AGAINST THE VARIOUS MANIFESTATIONS OF PRIDE. NO ONE IS EXEMPTED from it because IT IS THE RESULT OF HAVING INHERITED THE CONSEQUENCES OF ORIGINAL SIN. We have to “trample the I” in us (as St. Josemaria put it), the “old man” in us. Love of God, love of others and holiness will only be possible through humility.
Let us ask God the Holy Spirit for the gift of humility through Our Lady, Mary Most Humble, Handmaid of the Lord, Spouse of the Holy Spirit, to help us acknowledge and conquer our pride —for Love of God and that of others as well— everytime it gets into our way in our daily struggle towards holiness.
PHOTOSOURCE: Ford Madox Brown, Christ washing Peter’s feet in https://shadowlilies.files.wordpress.com/2012/06/christ_washing_peters_feet_fordmadoxbrown.jpg
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