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  • Sarah Raad

Pride

“If Saint Peter had said humbly to Jesus: ‘Give me the grace, I beg You, to follow You even to death,’ he would have received it immediately.” (Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus).

The Denial of Saint Peter (Caravaggio)

The other day I was trying to be good. I mean I was literally trying not to sin at all. My mission that day was sanctity. I wanted to be a saint… All in one day…


It was a very noble intention of mine…


That day, I thought I would do my best to refrain from shouting impatiently at my children (as they were dragging their feet). I thought I would refrain from speaking one uncharitable word that day (no gossip, no complaints, no irritated huffing or puffing while I waited in line). I thought I would do good-deeds to all. And to top it off – I was going to fast that morning… In short, I thought that I would be a patient model of charity for an entire 12 to 24 hours…


With hindsight, I believe that the fasting was possibly the root of all my problems – and that was the first thing that I changed that day – because I am truly a horrible person when I am hungry!


As you can imagine, my resolution lasted – in practice – exactly 45 minutes… I literally fell apart in less than an hour. I could not even restrain myself for one entire hour out of the day. And it got me to thinking… Why?


Why does it seem that the harder I try to be good, the more difficult it is for me to be good?


I recently read a beautiful explanation written by Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face, which recounted the experience of Saint Peter – who failed to follow Christ to death during His Passion and Death…

“I understand very well why Saint Peter fell. Poor Peter, he was relying upon himself instead of relying only upon God's strength. I conclude from this experience that if I said to myself: "O my God, You know very well I love You too much to dwell upon one single thought against the faith," my temptations would become more violent and I would certainly succumb to them. I'm very sure that if Saint Peter had said humbly to Jesus: ‘Give me the grace, I beg You, to follow You even to death,’ he would have received it immediately.”

And I have been thinking about the resilience required to be good… You see that temptation that Saint Peter experienced, is the same temptation that I faced that day. And just as Saint Peter failed – hoping to stay firm in his resolve – because he relied on his own strength, so too do I fail…


You see, of myself I am nothing – it is no coincidence, that the greatest of all sins is the sin of Pride and the greatest of all virtues is the virtue of Humility… For it is pride at the ROOT of all sin – because it is when we rely on our own strength that our true weaknesses are revealed. How much easier a target are we for the Evil One than when we try to stand alone – outside the shadow of the Blessed Lord, King of the Universe… After all, the temptation of Eve involved the false promise of the Evil One while she stood alone, and his promise was that eating of the Tree would assure her knowledge and therefore equality with God…


And though her innocence was lost and her knowledge grew, Eve became less worthy and less equal after her sin than before… And this is why the sin of pride is the ultimate deception – because it convinces the sinner that they are more on their own than they could be under the protection of God…


And so it is, that Original Sin was the sin of Pride – because Eve’s pride in wishing to know all things herself, caused her to sin the sin of disobedience… And that sin led not only to the fall of all humanity, but to the fall of Saint Peter, and to my own fall too, the other day – in fact, that sin leads to all other sins…


For how could one such as I ever dare to think that I could do anything without the power (and the Grace) of my Beloved Lord?


For with prayer, I stand on Holy Ground where everything is clear. Here. At the Foot of the Cross.

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