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Step 22

ON PRIDE.

1. Pride is a renouncement of God, the invention of the devil, and a contempt of men. It is the fountain from which spring rash judgments. It is the effect flowing naturally from the praises to which we give a willing ear. It is the sure sign of the soul’s sterility; the privation of divine aid; the courier of an impenitent heart; the cause of grievous faults; the promoter of spiritual epilepsy; the source of anger; the door of hypocrisy; the most powerful ally of demons; the champion of sin; the instigator of all kinds of cruelties; and the forgetfulness of compassion.

2. Pride is an extremely rigorous creditor, an exorable judge; the mortal enemy of God; the unhappy root of various kinds of blasphemy.

3. Pride begins where vainglory terminates. The completion of vainglory is the commencement of pride. The progress of pride is the contempt of our neighbour; the insolent boasting of our achievements; the love of praise; the dislike of reproach and humiliation. Its end is the renouncement of divine grace; a presumptuous confidence in our own strength; the possession of our souls by the devil.

4. Dreading the precipice of pride, let us remember, that this pest nourishes and fortifies itself in the soul of the very thanksgiving and gratitude which we return to God. For it is not so daringly impudent as to suggest the immediate renunciation of our Maker. I have noticed that some would thank God exteriorly in terms of humility, yet interiorly fly in His face by thoughts of vanity. Of this we have a striking illustration in the conduct of the Pharisee mentioned in the gospel, who said: “O God, I give thee thanks,” etc.1

5. When a soul falls into sin, it is manifest that pride had obtained possession of it previously. For “pride goeth before destruction, and the spirit is lifted up before a fall.”2

6. An eminent person said to me, one day, that our souls were disposed to the commission of twelve sins,3 which through shame he did not wish to mention. But he who was voluntarily guilty of pride, was guilty of that which concentrated in itself the malice of all these transgressions.

7. A solitary given to haughtiness, contradicts others with much contumely and bitterness. But the humble Christian will scarcely look him that reprehends him in the face.

8. As the cypress always shoots its branches on high, without ever lowering them to the earth, so the religious who is full of pride, is constantly lifting up his heart by vanity, and never subduing and bowing it down by humble obedience.

9. The proud are desirous of ruling, and although authority will prove their inevitable ruin, yet sooner than forego authority, they will embrace perdition.

10. We are told by St. James, that “God resisteth the proud.”4 Who, then, can have compassion upon them? If the proud man be impure in the sight of the Almighty, who will cleanse him and make him pure?

11. Reprehension is to the proud a stumbling block, over which they fall. The temptation of the devil is a spur, which urges them onwards to sin. But the abandonment of God is the cause of their hardness of heart. Sinners may be reclaimed by their fellow creatures from the first and the second evil, a presumptuous disregard of correction, and a criminal consent to temptation; but the third, which is a callous heart, is incurable.

12. He who rejects correction, discovers the pride which lurks within the recesses of his soul. But he who receives a reprimand with humility, breaks from off his neck, the galling chains of pride.

13. If pride alone made an angel fall from heaven, will humility, we may ask, without any other virtue, enable us to ascend to heaven?

14. Pride squanders away all the riches of virtue, all the toils and pains of penance. “They cried,” says the Psalmist, “to the Lord, and there was none to save; for he heard them not.”5 And for this reason, they plucked not up by the roots, the tree which bore all the evil, and from which they sought deliverance.

15. An old man of remarkable virtue and discernment in the guidance of souls, one day reprimanded with much charity, a young religious who assumed the airs of pride, and who in his spiritual blindness, thus replied: “Pardon me, my father, I am not proud.” The venerable old man justly retorted: “How could you, my son, prove to us more evidently that you are proud, than by denying your guilt?”

16. Persons prone to pride have great need of a director. It is prudent for them to choose a state of life the most lowly and contemptible in the eyes of men, and to read diligently the virtuous and heroic actions of the most eminent of the holy Fathers. By the adoption of these measures, there will be some hope, though not a confident one, of their amendment and salvation.

17. It is shameful to boast of an ornament which does not belong to us; but it is the height of folly to be proud of gifts and graces, which are the sole and absolute property of God. Hence there are no good works in which we can glory as our own. For our very existence, with all that depends upon this existence, is a donation of God’s liberality. In truth, the entire produce both of soul and body, and all the virtues which adorn our being, belong in strictest right to God, either as His immediate favours, or produced by His assistance. It is, therefore, a grievous injustice to boast of His work.

18. Continually mistrust our own weakness, even to the very hour, when your final doom will be pronounced, for you are told in the gospel, that he who had taken his place at the wedding feast, through want of the nuptial garment, was bound hands and feet, and cast into exterior darkness, where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth.

19. Let not dust and ashes be lifted up in mind, since the pure spirits around the throne of God, fell from their principality through pride.

20. When the devil has established his dwelling in the souls of those that submit to be his slaves, he appears to them in a dream, or when they are awake, as an angel of light, or as a glorious martyr. Then he makes known to them certain secrets, and apparently confers upon them extraordinary graces, that these his deluded victims may become totally blind of understanding.

21. Were we to endure a thousand deaths for Jesus Christ, we should not be able to discharge the immense debt which we owe to His infinite charity. For there is an infinite distinction between the blood of a God made Man, and that of a servant, if we consider the dignity, and not the substance.

22. Were we carefully to examine our conduct by that of the holy Fathers who have preceded us, and who were the bright luminaries of their age, we should be convinced that we have not taken a single measure which may enable us to walk in the footsteps of these illustrious characters, and imitate their noble exploits. No; we should perceive that we still persist in leading a secular and worldly life.

23. He is worthy to be called a solitary, who permits neither the eye of his mind to be dazzled by vanity, nor his bodily senses to be too much attracted by visible and temporal objects.

24. He, also, is truly a solitary, who, when his infernal foes fly before him, challenges them to combat, and provokes them to the fight, as he would do a ferocious beast.

25. He whose mind is always fixed on heaven, and ravished with the contemplation of God, and who toils with disgust through the weary pilgrimage of this perishable world, is a virtuous solitary.

26. We may likewise give this holy name to one, to whom virtue becomes as natural as pleasure and sensuality to the voluptuary.

27. He whose soul is always enlightened with heavenly light, is truly entitled to be called a solitary.

28. We will term him, too, a true solitary, whose heart is an abyss of humility, in which are engulfed all the proud thoughts and suggestions of the devil.

29. Pride brings on a total oblivion of sin, whilst the remembrance of our transgressions is the fountain of humility.

30. Pride is the foolishness of him, who believes himself to be very wealthy, whilst at the very time he is in extreme indigence, and to be illuminated with heavenly light, whilst he is groveling in total darkness.

31. This dangerous pest of souls not only prevents our advancement in piety, but hurls us headlong from the highest pinnacle of virtue.

32. The proud resemble a pomegranate, which appears all beautiful and crimson to the eye, but within is full of corruption.

33. A religious who is proud has no need of the devil to tempt him. For he is himself a devil, his own tempter and enemy.

34. As darkness is the opponent of light, so is pride the antagonist of every virtue.

35. Pride excites in the heart words of blasphemy, but humility brings with it heavenly and salutary thoughts.

36. The robber hates the light of day; and the proud despise the meekness of the humble.

37. I know not how it happens, that the generality of the proud do not know themselves, but fancy that they have won the victory over their passions; and discover not, until death opens their eyes, their extreme indigence.

38. He who is the slave of this tyrant, has great need of the grace of God to escape from his bondage. Every human aid is unavailing.

39. Having one day remarked that this seducer of souls had entered my heart by the door of vainglory, I fought them both, the mother and the daughter, by exercises of obedience and profound humility. At length I constrained them to tell me how they had obtained admittance into my soul. This is the substance of their information: “We give birth to all vices, whilst we derive our origin from none. One of our greatest opponents is humiliation, and the bowing down of the heart under obedience. For to no one do we pay submission. Hence we refused homage to God Himself, and raised against Him the standard of rebellion. We are, in short, the principle and the cause of all opposition to humility, because every friend of this virtue is our adversary. If we had formerly so much power in heaven, in what place can you, pray, avoid our power? We often tempt those who endure humiliation and contempt, those who practise obedience, those who check the impetuosity of their disposition by meekness, who pardon injuries, who perform acts of charity and kindness to their neighbour. Our offspring are the sins, into which even religious persons sometimes fall, as anger, detraction, bitterness, animosity, indignation, blasphemy, hypocrisy, hatred, envy, self-love, and disobedience. There is but one thing that renders our power impotent, and our efforts fruitless; we mention it through constraint. It is the constant and sincere accusation of ourselves in the presence of God. By this wise practice you will escape from our snares as from so many spider’s webs. You now see, exclaimed pride, that vainglory is the horse upon which I am mounted. But holy humility and self-accusation laugh both at me and my horse, and chant in divine harmony this canticle of triumph: ‘Let us sing to the Lord, for He is gloriously magnified; the horse and the rider He hath thrown into the sea,’6, that is, into the abyss of humility.’”

He who has ascended this 22nd step, if it be possible for any one to mount it, has attained a very high point of virtue.


  1. Luke xviii. 11.

  2. Prov. xci. 18.

  3. These twelve sins are enumerated a little later in this step. They are: anger, detraction, bitterness, animosity, wrath, blasphemy, hypocrisy, hatred, envy, self-love, and disobedience. Pride makes the twelfth. These sins are sufficient to make any religious person blush.

  4. James iv. 6.

  5. Psalm xvii. 42.

  6. Exod. xv. 1.



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Archbishop Gregory
Dormition Skete
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