JOURNEY INTO SELF-KNOWLEDGE – 3
Pride

 

Starting from a text from the Scriptures, from a teaching of Jesus, I invited you to look inside you in order to detect your recurrent thoughts, your worries, and the desires that normally occupy your mind.
 
I hope this piece of advice has been put into practice and you have had the time to familiarize yourself with your inner world.
 
This work is and has been the principal activity of all those that understand the importance of knowing the truth and have committed themselves to it. Self-knowledge is in fact the necessary condition to understand the truth about Man.
 
There is no other way.
 
By welcoming Jesus’ invitation, the early Christian monks put into practice his advice and, on the basis of the personal experience passed on from master to disciple, the spiritual guides understood that all negative thoughts could be put down to eight wicked thoughts: gluttony, fornication, meanness, sadness, anger, laziness, conceit, pride.
 
Later, in the Church tradition this list has been the starting point to define the existence and the nature of the seven capital vices: gluttony, lust, anger, sloth, greed, envy, pride.
 
We can describe a capital vice as the origin of the thoughts, feelings, attitudes and actions that pollute our behaviour, that push us away from God, from our fellow creatures, from our own ends, thus preventing us from reaching our true good.
 
And, above all, they take away our peace, joy, happiness.
 
So, it is extremely important to be able to recognize in our thoughts the capital vices into which we are more likely to lapse, or rather into which we have already fallen.
 
And it is even more important to know the method to be able to detect them correctly, because they are our real inner enemies.
 
The method I suggest adopting is really simple.
 
You have to ask yourself the origin of a thought or a feeling of yours, and connect it to one of those wicked thoughts of which I will try to provide a fairly practical description.
 
Where to start?
 
It may be convenient to start from pride which is the mother of all vices and sins.
 
In fact, it was pride, according to the Scriptures, that drove Adam to sin.
 
 
PRIDE
 
 
Pride is basically the thought, the conviction that you are superior to others,
that you are always right, or that your opinion is always better than other people’s.
 
We are not often aware that we are proud, simply because we believe that our idea is really the best, the solution to problems.
 
This is what happens to our politicians; if it were not so, they would be not only guilty of pride, but they would also be criminals.
 
Pride manifests itself in many shapes and in different degrees, as Saint Bernard showed in his famous classification.
 
Pride manifests itself in many shapes and in different degrees, as Saint Bernard showed in his famous classification.
 
But, even when you believe in God, you can be tempted to think that God is not doing the things that are necessary and that, in his place, we would do, especially when they concern the destiny of our life.
 
Pride appears clearly in the relationship with other people.
 
Seldom those who are affected by this “illness” question themselves, hardly ever are they ready to listen and to carefully evaluate other people’s opinions.
 
They always get their own way.
 
Hardly ever do they simply welcome what the others say and decide.
And this happens in all aspects of life: family, work, friendship.
 
If we want to know the degree of our pride, let us ask ourselves if we really can:
 
  • seriously take into consideration other people’s opinions;
  • be ready to listen to them to the hilt;
  • believe that every man has something to teach us and that we can more often than not be mistaken.

 

Then, if we want to tread the path towards the release from pride, we must learn the virtue of humility.
 
  • Let us start to believe that God is always and in any case providential Love;
  • And that his word, the Bible’s word, is preferable to ours and to mainstream culture.

 

Moreover, if we want to travel faster on our journey towards the release from the vice of pride, we can follow the advice provided by Saint Vincenzo Ferrer:
 
do not insist on your arguments even if you think they are better than the others’; and, talking about small matters that are not significant, always prefer other people’s opinions to yours.

God has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts, he has lifted up the humble.

I will take leave of you with the above quote from Magnificat said by Mary, who was made worthy of being Jesus’ mother.
 
I hope that your self-analysis will be fruitful.
 
Fra Giuseppe Paparone

 

Click to go to the first article on the topic (Journey into self-knowledge 1)