Pride, sometimes called vanity or hubris, is considered the fundamental sin and the mother of all vices. The first sin ever committed was an act of pride when Satan refused to recognize God as his Lord. Likewise, pride was the snare that seduced all of humanity in Adam and Eve as they turned towards their own ambitions to seek a life without God. St. Thomas Aquinas defines pride as “an excessive desire for one’s own self which rejects subjection to God.” But why is this so dangerous? The answer lies in the book of Genesis. We hear that God created man and woman in His own “image and likeness” (Gen. 1:26). In other words, our very existence as a human person is based on God’s own existence. To understand ourselves and what is most basic to our nature, we must know how God exists and the essence of His being. St. John the Apostle gives us a succinct definition: “God is Love” (1 Jn. 4). At first glance, this is a seemingly simplistic assertion. Yet, if we read it with the appropriate lens, its profundity shines forth. Before all else, God is Trinity; three divine persons so united in love that they are inseparable in essence. The Father continually gives Himself to the Son, the Son continually gives Himself to the Father and their love is so utterly complete that it manifests itself as a third person, the Holy Spirit. With this in mind, the genius of St. John’s definition becomes clearer. In saying that God is love, the apostle is summarizing how the Trinity exists. In three words, he is able to capture the source of all wisdom, goodness, justice and peace…to love. As St. Francis of Assisi says so beautifully, “It is in giving that we receive.” The basis of all reality and the origin of all existence is not domination, power or might; it is selfless giving. Sacrificial love is the root of divinity. The most basic attribute of human nature is to love, to seek the good of the other. We are most ourselves when we are given away. St. John Paul II referred this human phenomenon as the “logic of gift.” Now we know why pride is the most horrible vice. It inherently contradicts our human nature. To be selfish is anti-human, it is the most inhumane activity anyone can commit. Likewise, it feeds all other sins. We are greedy, lustful, gluttonous, lazy, wrathful and envious because we are selfish. Pride and selfishness blinds us to reality and turns our gaze inward at the cost of the world’s goodness and the dignity of other human beings. If we want to grow in holiness, then it must start with uprooting pride. We must ask Jesus to turn our eyes from our own desires so as to look upon the cross. Only then can the journey of sainthood truly begin.
The Seven Deadly Sins: Pride