Monday, 19 April 2021

19 April, Antonio, Cardinal Bacci: Meditations For Each Day

Pride

1. Pride is the sin of Satan. Being a pure spirit, he could not commit sins which have material things as their object, such as sins of impurity or of avarice. The one sin of which a spirit is capable is pride. Satan had been created by God and had been endowed with the loftiest gifts, but he was obliged to undergo a trial in order that he could merit the reward reserved for him by God, namely, the everlasting happiness of the Beatific Vision. It is generally held that God revealed to Satan and to all the legions of Angels the Eternal Word made man, Jesus Christ, and commanded them to adore Him. But when Satan and the other rebellious Angels saw in Jesus Christ a nature far inferior to their own, they were indignant because the Divine Word had not been united to the angelic instead of the human nature. They refused to bow their haughty heads and flung back at God the arrogant and blasphemous ultimatum: "I will not serve."

This is the essence of pride; the creature attributes to himself the gifts which he has received from his Creator and believes that he can do without God. Pride is opposed to truth which requires us to acknowledge that we have received everything from God. We should not grow proud, therefore, but should gratefully refer all that we are and all that we have to our Lord and Creator. We should remember that one day we shall have to render to God a strict account of all these gifts.

2. Just as humility is the hardest of the virtues to acquire, pride is the most common of the vices. We are all conceited and take pride in things which do not belong to us, but to God. One would imagine that it would be easy to understand that we are nothing without God, but in practice it is the other way round. It is not only prominent personalities, noted scientists and men of letters, but also the most ordinary men who believe that they are unique and superior to their fellows. Other vices follow pride. There is presumption, which leads us to believe that we are more important than we really are and to attempt things which are beyond the powers which God has given us. There is ambition, which drives us to make an immoderate quest for honours and responsibilities our main goal in life, as if our heart could be satisfied by these things rather than by God and by our own sanctification. There is empty vanity, the futile but burning desire to be praised and esteemed, as if our merits (if we have any) were anything else but a gift from God, which we have been able to develop only by His assistance and grace. Let us examine ourselves in this regard and we shall find many distortions in our own personality. We shall discover many vain notions which we ought to dispel, and many selfish detractions from God's glory of which we are and have been guilty. "Take away pride," said St. Augustine, "and what are men but men?" Remove the mask of arrogance and affectation, and you will find that even those men who regard themselves as outstanding personalities are very insignificant creatures after all. We can learn a great deal from a meditation on this subject.

3. Do you remember the occasion when the Apostles, their minds filled with ambitious speculation, approached Jesus, and asked Him who would be the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven? Our Lord called a little child and placed him in the centre of the group. “Unless you turn and become like little children,” He said, “you will not enter into the Kingdom of heaven.” (Mt. 18:3) How different are God's designs from the desires of men! His ways are full of simplicity and humility, in sharp contrast with our pride and ostentation. Jesus taught us this lesson not only in His discourses but also in His life. He was God and He became man; He was rich and He became poor. He left his heavenly mansion and came down to live in a stable in Bethlehem and in the home of a poor carpenter in Nazareth. For thirty years He performed a tradesman's job in this obscure village in Galilee. It was only when He had already spent thirty years teaching us His love of poverty that He emerged to preach the Gospel in public. After He had preached and worked miracles for three years, He sank back into the depths of lowliness and was even condemned to die upon the cross. This is a tremendous lesson for us. This is the road which we must travel if we are to follow Jesus.

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