Fr. Dale Matson
“Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves” (Phil. 2:3, NASB)
Since it was the end of this year, it was also time to take care of old business before the start of the New Year. It was rather simple to catalogue and recount my sins since the last confession, under the infamous seven deadly sins. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seven_deadly_sins. Some sins on the list are more problematic for me than others. If vainglory is a form of pride, it is the ugliest form of pride. While vainglory is not easy to define, it is easy to describe. I know it when I see it.
In making his escape, Odysseus blinded the Cyclops and told the Cyclops that “no man” had done it to him, when asked by the Cyclops who had blinded him. This was to keep the Cyclops from recruiting his friends in pursuing the men. Later Odysseus yelled back to the Cyclops from his ship as they sailed away. The Cyclops threw giant boulders in the direction of the voice as they sailed away imperiling the ship. Odysseus could not resist setting the record straight by yelling back to shore that it was he, Odysseus that had blinded him. That is an example of vainglory. Vainglory is also the football player celebrating in the end zone after scoring a touchdown. While a professional vitae can be a form of credential, it can also be a historical archive of vainglory.
St. Paul had been shown the glory of the third heaven yet was careful in describing himself as the “least” of the apostles (1 Cor. 15:9). He would only glory in the cross. (Gal. 6-14, KJV). Let him who boasts, boast only in the Lord. (1: Cor. 1:31)
The problem is once again the almighty ego. Am I working for my glory or the glory of God? What is the underlying reason for the goal setting and the accomplishments? Is this sometimes why God brings our schemes crashing down like the log chute in Zorba the Greek? The local priests even gave their blessing prior to this “splendiferous crash”. There was a formal confession to our “Bishop in Residence” JDS about this and a host of other misplaced efforts (missing the mark).
There was also a less formal confession prior to this via email as my friend, another priest, and I commiserated. “That's the problem. There is too much aspiration and goal setting, for my sake. I spend too much time checking to see whose paying attention. Too much need of adoration. Too much need for "atta boys". Too much who’s up and who’s down? Too much score keeping and not enough of God's glory in it. Why is there is so much time spent buttressing my own ego? Forgive me Lord.”
“…those who have never been driven to the point of seeing that their own achievements are nothing, and God’s grace everything, and that real religion begins only on the other side of the line where everything human has broken down; who have not recognized the subtle desperate hold that self lays upon the soul, making it’s very piety a barrier to Christ, and its morality an offense in God’s sight; who have never stared into the eyes of moral defeat, nor know the joy which comes when God floods a life and God’s power takes control, nor felt the consuming passion of a Christ filled man to impart his joyous secret to all the world. A Man In Christ James S. Stewart