Vainglory

29 January 2007

One of the things that most struck me during my retreat was the short reading at Compline, which was taken from the Institutes of St. John Cassian, Book XI, Chapter 3:

FOR our other faults and passions may be said to be simpler and of but one form: but this takes many forms and shapes, and changes about and assails the man who stands up against it from every quarter, and assaults its conqueror on all sides. For it tries to injure the soldier of Christ in his dress, in his manner, his walk, his voice, his work, his vigils, his fasts, his prayers, when he withdraws, when he reads, in his knowledge, his silence, his obedience, his humility, his patience; and like some most dangerous rock hidden by surging waves, it causes an unforeseen and miserable shipwreck to those who are sailing with a fair breeze, while they are not on the lookout for it or guarding against it.

I was suprised that the short reading at Compline was not one of the usual short readings (1 Peter 5:8 or Jeremiah 14:9), but this one.

It struck me to the core.  Am I not vainglorious about my manner, my work, my vigils, my fasts, what I read, my knowledge, my obedience, my seeming humility and patience?

When I  heard the prior reading it, I thought to myself, “That’s me.  I may have cultivated these good habits, but what good are they if I glory in them, instead of being truly humble, giving all the glory to God, and not my own efforts and ability.”

Something to work on, for sure.  But it’s hard one, isn’t it?   It seems hard to work on being less vainglorious, if the root of the problem is glorying in your own accomplishments.

Any suggestions?

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One Response to “Vainglory”

  1. Jason Says:

    I’m a little late to this one, having pushed myself to actually get some work done at work.

    I read C.S. Lewis’s Mere Christianity a few months ago. I had some problems with the book, but I had a similar experience to yours when Lewis identified pride as the greatest of all sins. His descriptions of the sin are pretty piercing, identifying pride as something much more insidious and prevalent than one expects. It’s a great little chapter on the subject.

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