"And I beheld, and heard the voice of one eagle flying through the midst of heaven,
saying with a loud voice: Woe, woe, woe to the inhabitants of the earth....
[Apocalypse (Revelation) 8:13]

Sunday, March 25, 2018

PRIDE: THE ROOT OF ALL SIN by the Priests of the Congregation of St. Paul, 1893

PRIDE: THE ROOT OF ALL SIN by the Priests of the Congregation of St. Paul, 1893
"He that exalteth himself shall be humbled, and he
that humbleth himself shall be exalted."--St. Luke xiv. 11.

by the Priests of the Congregation of St. Paul, 1893

There is a place in the Atlantic Ocean which sailors call the "Devil's Hole." Contrary currents hurl their torrents upon each other there, causing such commotion in the waters that navigation is always difficult. If you ever passed over it when the weather was good, you wondered why the sea was so rough and the ship rocked so much. If you asked one of the seamen for an explanation of this strange phenomenon, he answered you: "This is the Devil's Hole; the currents meet here."

In the voyage of life, my dear brethren, there is a " Devil's Hole" in our track. It is the abyss of pride. Like the whirlpool, it is very much hidden; the appearances are all fair, and this makes the danger all the greater. You are, when swayed by pride, unconscious of the condition of your soul. You feel disturbed and blinded as to its cause. Envy and hatred rise up in your heart, but you do not see their hideousness because, forsooth, your self-conceit or self-will has been offended by those who are wiser and better than you, and this galls you. You can't have your own way, and you are sad. You want to rule, and because you cannot you fancy yourself wronged. The whole difficulty is simply this: You have too good an opinion of yourself. Now, when you come to look seriously into your own heart, are you not forced to acknowledge this? Is not this the root of the whole evil? When you begin to understand and realize this, and try to conquer self-esteem, you become tranquil and find peace. Your passion subsides.

St. Bernard says that in order to cure pride we should reflect upon three questions: '' First, what was I before I was created? Absolute nothingness. And in what state did I come into the world? It was as a poor, helpless infant that would have perished but for the care of others. 'I was conceived in iniquity,' and have I not committed countless actual sins?'' What consideration can teach humility better than this? Ah, yes! if we would escape from the " Devil's Hole," the abyss of pride, we must constantly be mindful of our own nothingness.

Secondly, St. Bernard asks again: "What am I now? I am one subject to a thousand ills. My soul inhabits a tenement of clay which may be dissolved in a moment. I am surrounded by temptations on every side. I am in danger of losing God's grace at any time. What reason have I for trusting in myself? What cause for self-exaltation? There is, instead, reason for constant fear and trembling. I am such a weak vessel that only Divine Omnipotence can prevent me from sailing to my destruction."

Thirdly, "What shall I be?" continues St. Bernard. "I shall be, perhaps, before I am aware of it, in eternity. The earth will soon claim my body, which was formed from its slime. And my soul, whither will it go? Before the Divine Judge, who will demand an account of every idle word." These three considerations, What was I? What am I? Where shall I be? most clearly teach us the necessity of humility.

But we have, besides these reflections on our own misery, the example of our Divine Saviour to teach us humility. He came down upon the earth to cure men of pride. The world was filled with it. Greatness, men had come to believe, was in the palace of the Caesars, but the stable of Bethlehem proves the contrary. The form of a servant was what the God-Man took--not that of the ruler. Instead of honor He had ignominy, and with the most humiliating of all the punishments which the world could inflict--crucifixion--He suffered death to remove that curse of pride.

The saints have made it the chief object of their lives to imitate and share in the humiliations of Jesus Christ. His Blessed Mother stood at the foot of the cross and suffered crucifixion of soul. St. John, who understood better than the other Apostles the divinity of Jesus, witnessed with sorrow, faith, and love His humiliating death. There is a tradition that St. Peter once started to leave Rome, but not far from the city's gate he met our Lord going towards the city. The Apostle asked the Lord where He was going. "I am going to Rome to be crucified again," said Jesus. St. Peter cried out, "No, you shall not," and went back to die himself for his Master. To-day in Rome one sees a sanctuary which has been erected to mark the place of this apparition, and you have only to look from this spot to the dome of St. Peter's Church to understand the fruit of the humility of the Prince of the Apostles. The lives of all the faithful in the Church point to this virtue as a straight way to heaven.