The Simple Catholic Snapshots:
- In Times of Stress, Where Do You Go for Comfort? Self or God?
- Pride is a Barrier Between Us and God, Preventing Us from Asking for Help.
- Humility is the Prerequisite of Effective Prayer.
- When the Going Gets Tough, the Tough Get Praying.
- Being Proud is Not the Same as Being Prideful.
- Seek an Opportunity to Be Humble; Elevate the Competition
The Simple Catholic Truth:
of the Catholic Church # 2347 states: “The Lord grieves over the rich, because they find their consolation in the abundance of goods.”
Our group discussions began this week by asking what we find consolation in, particularly during times of stress and trial. Many acknowledged that their natural first reaction is to turn to self for the answers. One person, however, shared an alternative experience. He recalled a time in his life when work was especially difficult causing great stress. His first reaction was to simply work harder or learn a different skill to solve the problem but the stress remained. Eventually, he modified his approach by first humbly praying to God for help. Now of course, eventually improvements were realized that required focus, hard work and even a different approach at work, but what really turned the tide was him first turning to prayer.
The sin of pride makes it very difficult to find comfort in anything other than self. Actually, pride acts as a kind of barrier between us and God, the only true source of relief. We must first be humble in order to approach God in prayer and ask for help. I offered that old football quote “When the going gets tough, the tough get going” as an example of a statement with misplaced emphasis. At its core this really means “When the going gets tough, I must get going.” After a bit of discussion, the class composed a more appropriate alternative:
“When the going gets tough, the tough start praying.”
Humble words to live by indeed. So attempting to close this particular discussion, I restated for effect this powerful and somewhat rhetorical question: When in times of stress and trial, what comforts you? ‘Chocolate’ was immediately voiced from the third row. There’s always one in every crowd. 🙂 Time to move on.
Exploring the sin of pride a bit further, I asked if it was OK to be proud of some accomplishment or is that sinful pride? Happily, there was universal agreement that being proud and being prideful are different so we discussed ways to explain those differences. It was concluded that the essential difference is the object of the credit. If we accomplish something and desire the attention to be focused on ourselves, for our own self-promotion, then the sin of pride may be in play. On the other hand, when our accomplishment is seen in terms of using God’s unselfish gifts for some good, then due honor is given and all is well. This is not to say that we should deny the natural happiness of doing our best and being successful, even when it sets us above another. For example, training hard, improving and winning the race is completely fine and within God’s design for our lives. However, we should never, ever create a difference between ourselves and another by wishing or causing the failure of others. That’s pride at work, not love!
Finally, turning the theoretical towards the practical, we were faced with a challenge. Bishop Barron explains that a good first step toward cultivating the virtue of humility (the antidote of pride) is to deliberately take a lower position than another in some competitive situation in life. In this context, a competitor is not necessarily another athlete on the sport field, it could be a co-worker, a member in a volunteer organization or a social get together. In any event, the point is to look for opportunities to cede the higher place to someone else. Scripture is very clear with the message of God’s desire for proper humility (1Pet5:5-6, James 4:10, Mt 23:12 and Lk 14:10-11). God understands so well that pride is the gateway to all other sins.
Therefore, our personal assignment for this week was to try to put this practical advice into action, to deliberately seek an opportunity to cede the higher ground. As simple as that might sound, it proves to be difficult because the sin of pride is subtle and resides at the core of our fallen nature.
But difficult or not, we must take the antidote of Humility because Pride is the deadliest sin of them all.