Pull self-love out by the roots and plant in its place love for Jesus Christ. That is the secret of effectiveness and happiness.
Although you say you follow Him, in one way or another you always make sure that it is “you” who do things, according to “your” plans, relying on “your” strength alone. —But the Lord said: Sine Me nihil! — without Me you can do nothing.
They ignored what you call your “rights”, which I translated for you as your “right to be proud”. What a grotesque figure you cut. Because your attacker was powerful you could not defend yourself and you felt the pain of a hundred blows. And despite it all, you have not learned to humble yourself.
Now your conscience accuses you, calling you proud… and cowardly. —Give thanks to God because you are beginning to catch a glimpse of your “duty to be humble”.
All the time it is you, you, you. —And you will never be effective until it is him, him, him, so that you act in nomine Domini — in the name and with the strength of God.
How can you pretend to follow Christ, if you only revolve around yourself?
An impatient and disordered anxiousness to climb up the professional ladder can mask self-love under the appearances of “serving souls”. It is a lie — and I really mean that — when we seek to justify our actions by saying that we must not miss certain opportunities, certain favourable chances.
Turn your eyes back to Jesus; he is “the Way”. During his hidden years, there were also “very favourable” chances to advance his public life — when he was twelve years old, for instance, and the doctors of the law were in amazement at his questions and at the answers he gave. But Jesus Christ fulfils the Will of his Father, and he waits. He obeys!
—Do not lose that holy ambition of yours to lead the whole world to God, but when those ideas present themselves (they might show perhaps a desire to desert) remember that you too have to be obedient and work away at that obscure job, which does not seem at all brilliant, for as long as God asks nothing else of you. He has his own times and paths.
Those who enjoy privilege thanks to money, ancestry, rank, position or intelligence… and abuse it by humiliating those who are less fortunate, show that they are fatuous and proud.
Pride sooner or later ends up humiliating a man in front of others, however much of “a man” he is, since he will have been acting like a vain and brainless puppet, moved by satan’s strings.
Through presumption or simply through vanity, many people run a black market to raise their own personal worth artificially.
Positions… Who’s in, who’s out? —What does it matter to you? You have come, you tell me, to be useful, to serve, with complete availability. Behave accordingly.
You comment and criticise… Without you, it seems, nothing is done properly.
—Don’t be angry if I tell you that you are behaving like an arrogant despot.
A friend of yours, loyally and charitably, points out to you, on your own, certain things which tend to mar your behaviour. You then become convinced that he is mistaken: he doesn’t understand you. If that false conviction, born of your pride, remains, you will never change.
—I pity you: you lack the decision to seek holiness.
Malicious, suspicious, devious, mistrustful, grudging… these are all adjectives which you deserve, even though they might annoy you.
—You must put things right. Why is it others always have to be bad… and you good?
You feel lonely… you complain… everything annoys you. —That is because you are isolated from your brothers by your selfishness, and because you do not come closer to God.
You are always seeking people’s obvious attention! But, above all, that they should pay more attention to you than to anybody else.
Why do you always think that everything you are told has a hidden meaning? By being so touchy you are limiting the action of grace all the time. And do not doubt that grace comes to you by means of those who fight to match their deeds to Christ’s ideal.
For as long as you are convinced that others should always be paying you all their attention, and for as long as you delay the decision to serve (to hide yourself and disappear from view), your dealings with your brothers, colleagues and friends will be a constant source of disappointment, ill-humour…: of pride.
Detest showing off. —Reject vanity. —Fight against pride, every day, at every moment.
The proud, poor creatures, have to suffer a thousand silly little things which their self-love makes out to be enormous but are unnoticed by others.
Do you think that no one else has ever been twenty years old? Do you think they were never restricted by their parents when they were under age? Do you think they avoided the problems, however great or small, that you come up against? No. They went through the same things that you are going through now, and they matured, with the help of grace. They trod down their selfishness with generous perseverance, gave in when they should, and remained loyal — with calm humility — without being arrogant or hurting anyone when they should not have done.
Ideologically you are very Catholic. You like the atmosphere of the hall of residence. A pity the Mass is not at twelve, and the classes are not in the afternoon, so you can study late in the evening after one or two drinks. That “Catholicism” of yours does not come up to the real thing: it remains simply bourgeois.
—Don’t you see that you can’t think like that at your age? Leave behind your laziness and your self-worship… and adapt to the needs of others, to the reality around you, then you will be taking your Catholicism seriously.
A person who had donated a statue of a saint to a church said: “This saint owes everything that he is to me.”
This is not just a caricature. You also think — at least that is how it looks from your behaviour — that you fulfil your duties towards God just by wearing some medals or practising certain pious customs, more or less as a routine.
If only they could see the good things I do!… —But don’t you realise that you are carrying them around like trinkets in a basket for people to see how fine they are?
Furthermore, you must not forget the second part of Jesus’ command: “that they may glorify your Father who is in heaven.”
“To me, with the admiration I owe myself”, he wrote on the first page of a book. And many other miserable souls might easily print the same thing on the last page of their life.
How sad it would be if you and I were to live or end up like this.
—Let us make a serious examination of conscience.
Never adopt a superior air towards Church matters, or towards your fellow human beings, your brothers… On the other hand that attitude might be necessary in your social behaviour, when it is a matter of defending the interests of God and those of souls, for then you would not be acting out of superiority, but out of faith and fortitude, which we will practise with a calm and humble confidence.
It is indiscreet, childish and silly to say nice things about others and praise their good qualities in front of them.
—In this way vanity is encouraged, with the risk of stealing glory from God, to whom everything is due.
Make sure that your good intentions are always accompanied by humility. Because good intentions often go together with harsh judgements, almost amounting to an incapacity to yield, and a certain personal, national or party pride.
Do not be disheartened when you become aware of your mistakes. React against them.
—Sterility is not so much a consequence of one’s faults, especially if one repents, as a consequence of pride.
If you fall, get up with greater hope… Self-love alone is incapable of understanding that an error, when put right, helps us to know and to humble ourselves.
“We are no use.” —A pessimistic and false statement. —If we want to, with the help of God, which is the first and fundamental requirement, we can become useful, as a good instrument, for many enterprises.
It made me think when I heard that hard but true saying from a man of God, when he observed the haughtiness of a miserable creature: “He wears the same skin as the devil — pride.”
And there came to my mind, in contrast, a sincere desire to wrap myself in the virtue taught by Jesus Christ when he said, Quia mitis sum et humilis corde — I am meek and humble of heart. It was the virtue which attracted the gaze of the Most Holy Trinity to his Mother and our Mother: the humility of knowing and having the feeling that we are nothing.