Humility isn’t a trait that is celebrated in modern society on a regular basis. All we have to do is point to the recent MTV awards and the performance of a former Disney star to see what contemporary culture celebrates. Sure, newscasters and others have claimed outrage at the vulgar display of gyrations, but time will most likely reveal an increase of sales for the performer’s goods. The old adage still applies, “Sex sells.” That word could be replaced with, “Pride sells.”
If the entertainment industry does not convince you that the sin of pride is alive and well, simply turn your attention to the political arena for confirmation. Whether it is the (now former) mayor of San Diego, the mayoral candidate for New York City, or a whole list of others that could be mentioned, the word “humility” isn’t one which generally pops into mind. The pursuit of power, prestige, and fame can be seen among entertainers, politicians, business leaders, and even among church leaders. No segment of society is exempt from the effects of pride. Think back to where it all began. It was even present among the angels.
The Scriptures for this weekend give us an opportunity to reflect upon the Seven Capital Sins and the ill-effects that these sins have in our lives. If we have any hope to enter through the narrow gate, it is essential for us to root out these capital sins and replace them with virtues. Do we have the desire to unite our will to the will of God? Are we willing to allow the grace of our Lord, Jesus Christ, the love of God the Father, and the communion of the Holy Spirit to permeate every fiber of our being? Are we going to walk humbly with our God? (Micah 6:8)
Pride—“is having an inordinate opinion of one’s own dignity, importance, or superiority”. The New Catholic Encyclopedia says that pride is “the inordinate desire to excel.” It goes on to say that “pride springs from a self-love that is exclusive of others.” When we choose to follow our own will rather than the will of God, pride has been allowed to dictate our path.
Avarice—“is an insatiable greed for riches”. Looking back to the vice of pride, we can see that self-love is quite evident when we are in pursuit of riches with insatiable greed.
Lust—“is an uncontrolled or illicit sexual desire or appetite”. Once again, we look back to pride springing from a self-love that is exclusive of others, and we see a pursuit of sexual satisfaction with little or no regard for others.
Anger—“is a strong feeling of displeasure and belligerence aroused by a wrong.” How does pride factor into the vice of anger? Does having a high opinion of ourselves affect the way we react to someone when they have wronged us? Pride will most likely escalate the level in which we react to a perceived wrong. If we believe we are far superior to the individual who has wronged us, we aren’t too likely to have patience and forgiveness in the forefront of our mind.
Gluttony—“is excessive eating or drinking”. The vice of gluttony can take place for many different reasons. If this behavior is exhibited due to emotional distress, chemical imbalance, or some other medical issue, we are obviously talking about something outside the realm of gluttony. However, if we are engaging in gluttonous behavior that springs from pride and a lack of discipline, are we willing to admit it?
Envy—“is a feeling of discontent with regard to another’s advantages, success, possessions, etc.” Do we share in the joy when other people experience success and good fortune, or are we green with envy?
Sloth—“is the habitual disinclination to exertion; indolence; laziness; idleness.” Does pride give us a sense that certain types of work are beneath our dignity? Does pride dull our senses to such a degree that we forfeit a life of prayer for a life of idleness? Are we guilty of laziness when it comes to our spiritual lives, especially in regard to our faithfulness in daily prayer?
The Seven Capital Sins certainly provide a lot of food for thought and reflection. As we strive to enter through the narrow gate, let us sincerely conduct our affairs with humility.