“For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the pride of life, is not of the Father but is of the world” (1 John 2:16). As the last installment in our threefold concupiscence reflection, we now focus upon the pride of life. The Church has always understood this “pride of life” to relate to the devil who strived to make himself like God. He then offered that very same temptation to Adam and continues to offer it to you and me.
When our hearts are not firmly united to God, the holy desires that God places there are quickly lost. In fact, they are stolen! We read from St. John that the evil one “...comes only to steal and kill and destroy” (John 10:10). The devil craves to consume our desires and send us counterfeit ones in their place. It’s God himself who both gives us our holy desires and nourishes them so if we are not united to God, those desires quickly fade.
We see this clearly played out and illustrated in the parable of the Sower and the Seed, this time relating to the seed that fell upon the footpath, “and the birds came and devoured them” (Matthew 13:4). Christ himself gives us the interpretation, “When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what is sown in his heart; this is what was sown along the path” (Matthew 13:19).
Today, we enter into our third and final examination of conscience, according to the pride of life. Be honest and authentic. Once again, no fronts or masks. Keep in mind that God already knows your heart as well as all the answers.
Do I go to Mass every Sunday?
Do I begin and end each day in prayer?
Do I have specific times of prayer throughout the day?
Do I frequently pause to unite myself to God throughout the day?
Do I go to Confession at least once/year?
Can I name all of the Ten Commandments?
Do I read Scripture on a regular basis?
Do I frequently read spiritual books and/or watch spiritual programming?
Do I have spiritual conversations with my family and friends on a regular basis?
Is my faith involved in every aspect of my life?
Do I refuse or resist admitting my weaknesses?
Do I rank myself better than others?
Am I stubborn or arrogant?
Do I assume I am right and others are wrong without ensuring I actually understand them or their ideas?
Am I overly concerned about what others think of me?
Is pride your Pharaoh? Do you live your daily life practically on your own, without a true and utter dependence upon God? If you have discovered your Pharaoh, your source of bondage, name it. Renounce it. Plan to get to confession and begin the process of freedom. Looking back over these last three days, if you haven’t found anything yet and are still searching for your Pharaoh, go back and take a deeper look. If you still come up empty, then consider yours to be pride.
Pride is the mother of all sin. There exists an element of pride in every sin we commit. We choose what we think is best and turn from the ways of God saying, “My will be done” rather than “Thy will be done.” I will make this one easy for all of us; we all have pride. In some cases, it’s rather hidden but it’s there. As we progress along we will learn how to undo and counteract this destructive pattern.
As in prior days, we conclude our examination of conscience by listening to the gentle and personal calling of our Lord:
“Where are you? Where is your heart? I love you. I am close to you even in your sin. You may run and hide from me but I will never run from you. You may be weary of your sinfulness but I will never grow weary. You may be lost but you can be found. You may be blind but I can give you new sight. Your heart may be wounded but I have come to heal and restore. I have already taken your sin and shame and obliterated it. I have come to set your heart free. I have come to give you a new heart. I have come to give you my heart. My light will shine through your wounds. Will you trust me? Will you enter into my heart? I ask you a third time, like my beloved Peter, do you love me?”