|Posted on February 24, 2020 at 8:45 AM|
What? It’s almost Lent? I’d better get moving!
Each year during Lent I try to do something related to my spiritual life. Often, this means I may give up something that I enjoy or do something extra, above and beyond what I normally do.
This year I am going to do something different. I have decided to focus on something that will force me to look closely at my own life to see if I am failing in some area that perhaps I have been ignoring. So for the next few weeks I will review the Seven Deadly Sins, also known as the capital vices or cardinal sins. This is a grouping and classification of vices within Christian teachings. The list itself does not appear explicitly in the Bible, but many biblical passages refer to these sins and their effects.
The Seven Deadly Sins are pride, greed, lust, envy, gluttony, wrath and sloth. For this first week I’m going to review pride.
On just about every list I’ve seen, pride is considered the original and most serious of the seven deadly sins: the perversion of the faculties that make humans seem to be more like God. It is also thought to be the source of the other capital sins. It is identified as dangerously corrupt selfishness, the putting of one's own desires, urges, wants, and whims before the welfare of other people.
In more destructive cases, it is irrationally believing that one is essentially and necessarily superior or more important than others, failing to acknowledge the accomplishments of others, and excessive admiration of the personal image or self (especially forgetting one's own lack of divinity, and refusing to acknowledge one's own limits, faults, or wrongs as a human being). Pride is generally associated with an absence of humility.
Many authors speak about pride – you can find references all over the internet. Benjamin Franklin said "In reality there is, perhaps no one of our natural passions so hard to subdue as pride. Disguise it, struggle with it, stifle it, mortify it as much as one pleases, it is still alive and will every now and then peep out and show itself; you will see it, perhaps, often in this history."
Pride is referenced in a few places in the Bible. Sirach 10:12-13a (NAB) says “The beginning of pride is man’s stubbornness in withdrawing his heart from his Maker; for pride is the reservoir of sin, a source which runs over with vice.” Proverbs 16:18 (NAB) also references pride with the famous quote "pride goes before disaster, and a haughty spirit before a fall," which is often shorted to “pride goeth before the fall.”
While it’s okay to be proud of our own accomplishments or that of others, we sin when that pride becomes consuming and we over-inflate our value. It also may result in vanity, self-idolatry, ignoring others or only seeking our own status.
We can probably easily name people who have lived in the past century who likely had a problem with pride - Adolf Hitler comes to mind - and you may be able to spot people in your own life. But beware - it’s very easy to point our fingers at others who may have this deadly sin, but not so easy to see it in ourselves.
Therefore, what about ME? As part of my preparation for Lent I examined my own life this week specifically around the issue of pride. And I’m sad to say I found several instances of wrongful pride. For example, it was fine when I felt a sense of accomplishment when I hit the “Publish” button for last week's blog post, but NOT when I read that other blog and thought that my blog was better.
I have been doing a daily examen for some months now. But on the last few nights when I have done this, I initially thought either that I hadn’t sinned or my sins were so small that I needn’t worry about them. In reality, though, I realized that pride had snuck in and said “Nope, I got this. I don’t need any help; I’m God.” I actually HAD sinned but had glossed over it. Oops.
Then there was the day last week when I was following a driver who made several unlawful moves. What was my reaction? I patted myself on the back, congratulating myself that I was a MUCH better driver. Yep, some pride in that one, too. And then ten minutes later I erroneously turned on a red light. Oh boy.
What was my takeaway from this review? Realizing that there were several times (more than the ones I mentioned above!) when pride had snuck in during the past several weeks, the first thing I did was to schedule an appointment for confession!
But I also had to think about what will happen when I get into those situations again. If I do not take actions to stop this, pride could become even more of a problem in my life. In order to be better prepared, I prayed for the graces I will need to respond appropriately in those situations when they happen again. I may even want to think about other situations where pride could rear its ugly head. Hopefully with this preparation I will gain more awareness and be able to shut down pride sooner.
Have you had some trouble with pride lately? Perhaps you could take a little time this week to look at this first deadly sin to see if it has surreptitiously crept into your life. Take action to shut down your pride, if needed. A blessing may be waiting for you....
Have a blessed Monday!
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