The Sin of Pride

Dear Friends in Christ,

All of us have encountered, in one form or another, correction. Be it in learning how to write cursive letters, playing the piano, learning a foreign language or swinging a baseball bat or golf club, we all learn what to do and what not to do. We learn that when we do things incorrectly, we do not get the results that we want. When we persist in wrong behavior, it is painful to be corrected and change our actions and learn to do things correctly. Yet, if we work on changing our behavior, correcting our mistakes and errors, we will make real progress and experience the success that we desire.

In the moral life, it is no different. In order to achieve happiness and fulfillment, we must correct those erroneous actions and ways of thinking which ultimately threaten and lead us away from true happiness. In other words, we must repent and change our sinful ways. Our Catholic Faith teaches us that there are seven actions, dispositions, that are named and distinguished as deadly sins. These are sins from which other sins and vices grow. These sins are deadly in that they kill the life of God’s grace within us and lead to eternal death. The Seven Deadly Sins are Pride, Avarice, Envy, Wrath, Lust, Gluttony and Sloth (CCC #1866). Among these Seven Deadly Sins, Pride has pride of place! For as the Scriptures tell us, Pride goeth before the fall (Proverbs 16:18). Pride is the deadly sin that leads to the other deadly sins which in turn lead us to destruction and perdition.

The sin of pride is an inordinate love and concern for self. It is the exaltation of the self. The sin of pride is disordered. The sin of pride is when we insist that our way is the right way, no matter what. The sin of pride is when we declare that our wants, desires, and decisions are the most important because they are ours. The sin of pride insists that all others must conform to our will for we are infallible in our judgement. When we commit the sin of pride, we are telling God that “I’ve got this, and I know what is best” and that He is sitting on our throne, and it is time for Him to move. Pride even has its own theme song, “I Did It My Way!” When we look around at all the world’s problems, it does not take too long to discover that the sin of pride is everywhere. Ultimately, pride is the BIG LIE that we insist is true and that everyone else must believe and accept as true. Too often, even when we know the lie is a lie, pride convinces us that if we repeat the lie enough times, it will become true. Sadly, pride, like every lie, will be revealed for what it truly is in the light of truth. The terrible consequence of pride is that it hurts and ruins not only the person who embraces the sin but others as well.

The originator of pride is Satan himself. The original act of rebellion against God, was when the one, who was angel of God, declared against the Creator, ‘I will not serve!’ Satan refused God and God’s ways. We see that from the beginning, Satan tempts and entices humanity to follow his rejection of God by appealing to human pride (Gn 3). This lie insists that the truth is false and that falsehood is true, that good is bad and that bad is good, that nature is evil and evil is natural! Pride proclaims that nothing is a sin except to say that sin exists, and sin is sinful! Pride is delusional and destructive.

Happily, there is a remedy to pride, a therapeutic medicine for the soul infected by this disease of egotism, hubris, vainglory, delusional thinking and self-destructive behavior. The corrective for pride is the truth. When we acknowledge and accept that God is God and that we are not and that God’s ways are true, then we can begin to be delivered from the destructiveness of the sin of pride. Like correcting poor penmanship or bad habits, humility is required in admitting our error. Likewise, it takes real effort to correct our ways. The corrective to fighting against the sin of pride is humbly accepting that we cannot always get our way and that our wants and desires are not always good or good for us. Humility and truth are the best antidotes to pride. Generosity and magnanimity are likewise beneficial in fighting and combatting the sin of pride. The ultimate remedy to combat pride is love of God. To love God is to love God for who He is. We cannot love God and embrace the sin of pride at the same time. To love God is to accept God’s ways and be obedient to Him. To love God is to accept correction of our sinful thoughts and actions and to change our ways. To love God is to desire and embrace the life that He wants for us. To love God is to serve Him with all our hearts, minds, soul and strength (Mt 22:37).

In pace Christi,

Fr. Troy