“What has become of King Don Juan?
And the Princes of Aragon,
What has become of any of them?
What remains of our handsome nobility?
And of the many fads and fashions
They brought with them?
What remains of their jousts and tournaments,
Gilded ornamentations, fancy embroideries
And feathered tops?
Was all this insignificant waste?
Was it anything but a season’s fleeting touch of green on the fields?”
“To some who were confident of their own righteousness and achievements, and also looked down upon and despised others who were less accomplished, Jesus told this parable: ‘Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ”God, I thank you that I am not like other people – robbers, evildoers, adulterers – or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.”
‘But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, “God, have mercy on me, a sinner.”
‘I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.’”
Pride, intended as a recognition of our achievements and superiority, ironically diminishes our fullness as human beings, and often quite dramatically so. Pride can make people act in ways that, from a distance, seem very pompous and silly.
And among these proud ones there are often those who not only go beyond a simple agnosticism and indifference to the vastness of creation, but actively refuse to acknowledge anything greater than themselves. And they do so almost with a kind of fervor, aggressively despising any forms of observance among others as a weakness of mind and character.
They proudly build their castles, made of money and honors and power, on the weak sands of their own ego and worldly achievements. That form of worldly pride is easier for us to understand. We see it clearly in the self-proclaimed elite of our time. The balance of things may only be restored for them by the four last things, the hard realities which are irresistible, even to the mighty.
But less obvious perhaps is the spiritual form of pride, that reduces us into a distorted order of things that would be equally silly if it were not so insidious. Spiritual pride blinds us to our own faults, of course. But even worse than that, it leads us to magnify and fix ourselves upon the faults of others.
In doing so we seek to justify our own imagined achievements, and at the same time dismiss our bad treatment and low regard for them. There is no person who is spiritually proud whose heart will serve as a home for the Holy Spirit, the spirit of humility, and mercy, and of love. They are too full of the law, and of judgement, and of the trappings of righteousness, and themselves.
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