As I go through Chapter 28 of Fr. Garrigou-LaGrange’s book on the interior life, I find myself horribly exposed to my intellectual and spiritual pride. I was aware that pride was my root sin, but I did not realize how badly I suffered from it. It’s odd: I’m disappointed with myself, but I’m also filled with joy to discover this flaw. I want to be perfect, as Jesus is perfect; but, I know I’m not, yet. By His grace, I was able to remove the big rocks on the field of my soul. My intellectual and spiritual pride is hidden, like garden cutworms, potato tuberworms and other soil-dwelling pests. Now, with the light of the Holy Spirit shining on my wounded soul, I can see how these hidden types of pride have infested the garden of my soul and blinded me from seeing these truths about myself:
- I believe that I have through my own efforts what I have received from God
- I believe that I have merited what I have gratuitously received
- I attribute to myself goods I lack, (i.e. great learning, strong faith, heroic charity), when I do not possess it
- I wish to be preferred to others and depreciate them
I felt the loving finger of God pointing at me when I read this passage:
Some finally, who are theoretically in the truth, are so satisfied to be right, so filled with their learning which has cost them so much, that their souls are, as it were, saturated with it and no longer humbly open to receive the superior light that would come from God in prayer. Intellectual pride, even in those who are theoretically right, is a formidable obstacle to the grace of contemplation and to union with God.
I thank the Holy Spirit for the grace and consolation in knowing this fatal flaw in my soul. How can I grow in Christian perfection with these soul-dwelling pests eating the crops planted by the Holy Spirit? So, while I am truly disappointed with myself, I am also happy to experience this grace. What a mercy to know that I’m still a sinner!
St. John of the Cross, pray for me. Your words have brought me to shame:
When beginners become aware of their own fervor and diligence in their spiritual works and devotional exercises, this prosperity of theirs gives rise to secret pride — though holy things tend of their own nature to humility — because of their imperfections; and the issue is that they conceive a certain satisfaction in the contemplation of their works and of themselves.
From the same source, too, proceeds that empty eagerness which they display in speaking of the spiritual life before others, and sometimes as teachers rather than learners. They condemn others in their heart when they see that they are not devout in their way. Sometimes also they say it in words, showing themselves herein to be like the Pharisee, who in the act of prayer boasted of his own works and despised the publican (Luke 18:11)…. They see the mote in the eye of their brother, but not the beam which is in their own.
If you are reading this, pray for me. Pray that I do not imitate Christ in the wrong way. Pray that I bear with the equality of our fellow men & women, that I do no wish to impose my domination on them. Pray that I live with them in humble submission to the divine law.