Sacred Heart

Catholic Church

Imlay City, Michigan  Tel: (810) 724-1135

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Fr. Paul Ward

Sunday, August 28, 2016
22nd Sun. in Ord. Time, Cycle C


Social Doctrine (3/7):
Pride and the Ridiculous Glory of the Sinful Mortal



   Today the Scriptures have taught us, “My child, conduct your affairs with humility” (Sir 3:17), and “go and take the lowest place” (Lk 14:10). This provides an excellent occasion for our next installment on the Social Doctrine of the Church, wherewith we can study pride.

   As you remember, we are learning the social doctrine of the Church in seven homilies by studying the seven capital sins, their manifestations in our social context, and the solution the Church proposes in her social doctrine. We have already exposed greed and laziness; today we confront the worst of all the capital sins, pride.

   But first some points on parish life.

   As you remember, every autumn we start a new video series on Sundays to provide some deeper education in the Catholic Faith. We saw the Catholicism series, then the Church History videos called Epic, by Steve Weidenkopf, and then we began the Jeff Cavins’ biblical course. This course has three parts: the Old Testament and the Gospel of Matthew, so this year we’ll finish it with his installment on Acts of the Apostles. At the parish picnic you’ll be able to sign up and get books. If you want to audit without the books of course you may, but you do learn more with the workbooks that go with the course. Other video series are being reviewed for future years; the education in the faith, especially of the parish children, is one of our most important apostolates.

   This brings me to remind all the parents to punctually sign up and bring your children to catechism this fall.

   I also just mentioned the parish picnic. If you have old items from before the times of Vatican II, I invite you to put them on display in a designated spot in the social hall. Also, we’ll have a small tournament of soccer, so anyone may form a team of five to compete; more details on this will be forthcoming, but you can start planning and practicing now.

   Furthermore, we all enjoy our high tea; on the afternoon of Sun., Oct. 16 we’ll once again hold the event, so please reserve the date and feel encouraged to attend.

   Now to the topic of the day: Pride and the social doctrine of the Catholic Church.

   Pride is the worst of all the sins. It is the most damaging, the most sinister. It is the sin of the demons in hell, one of the purely spiritual sins. It always wants to convince its host that it does not exist, so that the proud person can praise himself for how humble he is. Pride can also go by the name “vainglory” or “arrogance.” There is a good use of the word pride, as when a parent is detachedly proud of a good child, or when one is proud of his nation or of an honest success he has had. Vainglory is not this kind of wholesome pride. An the term arrogance adds an element of bitterness, like pride in excess, pride in one’s neighbor’s face.

   One can be proud in three ways.
[1] The first is to find glory for oneself in things that one does not have, or in something false. For example, one boasts of a virtue he does not have, of having done something he never did, or having a beautiful appearance when he doesn’t. The second kind of pride or vainglory is to find glory in a passing good. For example, a young man may take pride in his strength, but he will grow weak with age, or he may become injured in an accident; or a young woman may be vain in her prettiness, a passing thing; or a foolish rich man can think that he is something great because he has lots of money. A third kind of pride is when one exalts himself by some good which he has not subjected to its proper end. For example, he may have gifts of contemplation, but he flaunts it before others, so they may admire him, instead of directing that gift to God’s glory; or again, when his cleverness wins for himself lots of profit, but he thinks he deserves it and does not help is neighbor with at least some of it (that too is pride); or again, if a friend praises him, he fails to use that praise to thank both neighbor and God, and to persevere in that good thing, but he simply turns in upon himself and glorifies himself in his own mind. These are the three types of pride, and some examples. They all have in common that a man manifests his glory – a false glory, a passing glory or even a real glory – for some other reason than the good of God, neighbor or the true good of oneself.

   If we turn to the public square, we can find many occasions where pride rules the day. The current electoral campaigns drip with pride, for every candidate seems to put forth his own qualities, his “glories,” for petty gain – qualities which are sometimes false and almost always passing.

   Pride is manifest also in the power that some men desire to have over others. Such pride often leads to war, and is interwoven with greed and the desires to possess. Pride turns man against man, puffs up racism, turns employers to maltreat their employees, and employees to hate one another. Pride tears down friendships and divides families. Pride fuels anger and envy of the goods, qualities or attentions that others receive. By pride the one of high authority thinks he knows everything that those under him know, when he does not (this is an institutional defect of the regulatory state, including socialism). Pride makes men think it’s OK to take advantage of someone or treat him badly… because he deserves it, because he’s stupid or ugly, because of his color, or whatever else. It was the pride of nations that ignited much of the World Wars of the 20th century – that the French are better than the Germans, or the Germans better, or the Italians or Russians; how evil this sort of nationalistic pride is, which is not love for one’s people, but the despising of other peoples. It is diabolical pride that animates those Muslims who wage the jihad against others. And it is pride that stops men from communicating – both speaking and seriously listening to one another.

   Various principles of the Church’s Social doctrine contribute to show man the way out of slavery to pride. The principle of the common good makes man procure goods for others, not just for himself. The principle of subsidiarity arrests those with authority over others, and teaches them to back off, letting men under them exercise their judgment in things of which they know better anyway. Subsidiarity diffuses arrogant tyranny, and inspires the one in authority to seek council and to share his power in prudent ways. The principle of participation teaches man to procure the glory of the “we,” not just of the “I,” obtaining goods for others, not just himself. And the principle of solidarity breaks the proud man out of his self-absorption.

   Pride is a sin, with all of its vanity, arrogance, boasting, hatred and violence. This sin breaks down relationships in society, and props up the tyrant.  Pride prevents man from entering the Kingdom of Heaven, while it rends the temporal kingdoms on earth.

   No one has greater glory that God; and God became man, and was humble. It was by his obedience and humility that he saved the whole world from sin – that is power, that is glory! See also the humility of Mary, who was glorified by God above even the angels; and see how she uses that glory to help us on earth, she who is both Mother and Intercessor. Amen.


[1] St. Thomas Aquinas, De Malo, IX, a.1, c.








Compendium of Social Doctrine of the Church, from the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, Librevia Editrice Vaticana








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