Pride, poverty of the soul
Publish date 26-08-2020
A brother tormented by doubts and bad thoughts went to an elder and begged him to release him from his affliction. It doesn't suit you, replied the elder. But he was so desperate and begged that the old man prayed intensely, and grace freed his brother from his inner war. But immediately, as soon as he returned home, he fell prey to pride and presumption. He then went to the old man so that his old thoughts and lost humility would return to him.
This story of the desert explains with an example a statement of St. John Chrysostom: "Pride is the evil that takes us when we do good", or of another of St. Maximus: "When the other passions doze off, it awakens the pride". Pride, the elder brother of vainglory, the hyperfanìa of the Greeks (imagining of being who knows, the same root of the modern fan) is the demon of the perfect, that is, of those who set out along the narrow, good way, following the Lord , overcoming the most elementary temptations one by one. Pride awaits them at the gate to attack them on two fronts. You are better than the others, you see it, look at what a beautiful journey you have made, the tempter insinuates into the ear of the proud, and in the other whispers: and it's all thanks to you ... And in this way he cares, compromising in one fell swoop his relationship with others and his relationship with God.
The proud man is continually striving to demonstrate his superiority, he believes that only he is right and that he can always teach something to others, whose defects he is mainly inclined to see. He is a critic who tends to make irony of his neighbor even with acidity and contempt, sometimes even offending or attacking him. Even if only mental or vocal, aggression is her lifestyle. With God he has a relationship of denial or revolt, the same impiety as Satan, comments Chrysostom, who in the end is atheism: the proud believe that they possess the exclusive image of God, which instead denies in others.
Extreme poverty of the soul that does not know itself and mistakes its darkness for light: "nobody knows each other better than those who believe they are nothing".
The proud man is a moròs, a poor person suffering from dementia, who only conceives of opposition relationships, never complementarity with others in view of a common good (which does not interest him).
In the end, he gets the exact opposite of what he wanted: he is a lonely man, shunned, turned in on himself, suspicious to the point of persecution. His only interlocutor is his self: pride has handed him over to terrible philautia. We have reached the core of invisible evil, says John Climacus, that only He who is eternally Invisible can heal: "men can heal the lustful, angels the bad, but the proud can only be healed by God".
NP March 2015