Pride and willful sin


Benedict J. Groeschel puts together an anthology of writings from past spiritual masters in his The Journey Toward God. Some of his remarks are helpful as I reflect on why I willfully choose to sin, on why I commit “high handed sins” (to use the words of Moses). I think I need to go back and reflect on the problems and solutions for pride in James 5 and 1 Peter 5. Humility seems to be one of the core requirements to have a growing intimacy with Christ.

Groeschel writes, “Therefore each time that we are humbled by falling into sin, it is certain that we must previously have exalted ourselves by some act of pride…”53 He also quotes Guardini, “Sin is blindness: and so I beseech you, my redeemer, rid me of the error of arrogance. Teach me to see who I am and who you are. Move my heart that it may feel what you have done.” (Monsignor Romano Guardini 9)

Groeschel later writes about the problem of willful sin, the nature of evil, and how a heart once hardened does not easily escape from sinful habits and patterns. He quotes St. Dorotheos of Gaza, “So it is with our evil desires; insofar as they are small to start with, we can, if we want to, cut them off with ease. If we neglect them as mere trifles they harden, and the more they harden, the more labor is needed to get rid of them. But if they grow to any degree of maturity inside us, we shall no longer be able to remove them from ourselves no matter how we labor unless we have the help of the saints interceding for us with God.” 59

Sounds like James 1:13-15 and 4:1-3! Lord, you have allowed me to see the evil that results from my independence, my self-will, my pride. Deliver me this day as I submit to you.

I don’t know if St. Dorotheos is referring to the saints who help those who are trapped in sin ala Galatians 6 or to the the canonized saints of the church. If the latter, then I would need to beg to differ! Regarding the former, I am very much aware of how much I need the grace that community offers in my pursuit of holiness.

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