On Pride and Vainglory – Elder Ephraim of Arizona
Thoughts of pride and vainglory are formidable and difficult to fight against. But before the humility of Jesus, they literally lose their strength. The truth shall set you free from every sin and passion. (Jn 8:32).
The Holy Fathers write: “When you see Pilate and Herod reconcile, know that they are preparing to kill Jesus. And when you see vainglory and pride attacking you, know that they are plotting to destroy your soul!” Fear and trembling should seize you when you discern such thoughts; for in proportion to the magnitude of your pride, the providence of God prepares to chasten you with trials so that you may learn to think humbly. Force yourself to be humble, and when you see thoughts of pride, lay hold of a whip and start lashing yourself. The bodily pain will drive away the pain of your soul, and God, Who sees how much you are struggling, will provide you with the corresponding strength, for according to our intention and struggle, Jesus sends His almighty power.
Just think how many people have preached, written, and dogmatized; they filled the world with books, as did Origen who wrote many books and saved many people and strengthened a multitude of others to become martyrs; yet in the end, he was labeled as the founder of heresy and fell away from God.
Alas! How much evil does pride create in a man? God reckons no man’s works as his own since man is merely a faucet, a tap—not the spring! And how can the faucet consider the water flowing through it as its own work, since it knows that the spring causes the water to flow? Even so, forgetfulness is the evilest teacher of the soul, for had it remembered the truth, it would not have gone mad.
What made Lucifer fall? Was it not haughty thinking? Let this be a lesson for us, for one acquires experience and caution not only from one’s own misfortunes but also from one’s neighbor’s.
How did great ascetics, who had renounced everything, tall and reach the point of demonic possession and then return to the world so that monasticism was blamed? They fell because they thought that they were better and more virtuous than the others and that they were supposedly accomplishing something.