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Spiritual Pride

“‘When I lived in the outside world, I was preparing to become a monk. I kept the fasts strictly. Every day I made at least a thousand full-length prostrations. But when I came to the monastery, all of this came under the direction of my confessor, Fr. Leonid, and he reduced the number of prostrations from a thousand to fifty. But fairly soon afterwards, I went to Fr. Leonid and humbly asked him to reduce the number even further, because I couldn’t do them. The Elder reduced them to 25. But after a few days I felt unable to do even these. I was tormented by the thought: How was it possible for me to do more than a thousand prostrations easily and happily when I was living in the world and now it was impossible for me to do even twenty? And Fr. Leonid said to me: – While you were in the world and doing what you wanted, the enemy was helping you. What you did made you proud and made you think you were something. There’s no room for self-satisfaction here. Because here you don’t do your own will but that of somebody else. You practice obedience. You’re humbled. This is why it’s difficult. But now you benefit. Because you see how weak you are. And if you want, you can set proper, firm foundations’.” (Stelios Koukos)

“To rejoice only in the fact that they [the 70 disciples] were able to work miracles and crush the herds of demons was possibly likely to produce in them the desire of arrogance. The neighbor and relative of this passion constantly is pride. Most usefully the Savior of all rebukes the first boasting and quickly cuts away the root that sprang up in them—the shameful love of glory. He was imitating good farmers who, when they see a thorn springing up in their parks or gardens, immediately tear it up with the blade of the pickax before it strikes its root deep.” (St. Cyril of Alexandria)

“It may be tempting at times to fantasize about having achieved great heights in any endeavor, including the Christian life. Our calling is nothing less than to become like God in holiness as partakers of the divine nature by grace, but the more that we assume we are quickly and easily fulfilling that vocation, the further we will be from acquiring the mature and honest faith necessary to receive our Lord’s healing mercy. In order to have such faith, we must cultivate the humility to see and confess our weakness like the father in today’s gospel reading [Mark 9:16-30].” (Fr. Philip LeMasters)

“One day, the Elder said to me: ‘Christians must avoid pernicious religiosity: both the feeling of superiority because of their virtue as well as the sense of inferiority over their sinfulness. A complex is one thing; humility’s another. Melancholy is one thing; repentance is something else. One day, I was paid a visit by a secular psychiatrist who attacked Christianity because, according to him, it created guilt and melancholy. I answered that I agreed that some Christians, through their own erroneous thinking or that of others, were trapped in the sickness of guilt. I then told him that, by the same token, he had to accept that people living in a secular manner were also trapped in an even worse sickness, that of pride. If you’re close to Christ, religious guilt is dispelled through confession and repentance; but the pride of secular people who are far from Christ never disappears’.” (St. Porfyrios Kavsolkalyvitis)

“Yet this simple step [recognizing our gifts] is complicated by a common misconception that it is prideful to acknowledge that one is good at something. This is only prideful if we think ourselves superior because of our abilities. We must recognize our gifts, but we must acknowledge them as divinely given.” (Archimandrite Vassilios Papavassiliou)


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