Jeff Cook, author of Seven: The Deadly Sins and the Beatitudes , has offered some brief meditations for us to ponder during Lent this year.
During Lent, we will meditate together on the Seven Deadly Sins and use this list as an aid in confession as we prepare ourselves for Holy Week, Good Friday and the Easter announcement of resurrection.
John Milton’s classic Paradise Lost begins with Satan falling from the presence of God into a dark world. Looking around, Satan affirms himself by saying, “Better to reign in Hell than serve in Heaven.”
Some move toward the void of hell—not because reality is too ugly or painful, but because the kingdom of heaven is about others and not one’s self. The ancients called this attitude of persistent self-focus pride. Pride is the natural love for myself magnified and perverted into disdain for others. Augustine called pride the foundation of sin, for “pride made the soul desert God, to whom it should cling as the source of life, and to imagine itself instead as the source of its own life.”Unlike the other sins, pride appears when I am at my best. Pride capitalizes not just on my failures but even more so on my successes. When I choose to abstain from base desires, gluttony and lust may be defeated but not pride. Whether I share wisdom or withhold it, give money or refrain, pray or remain silent—pride is always there as a false light to bask in. No matter what I do, pride loves to hold up my reflection as an idol to be cherished. Those hell-bound because of pride do not travel downward; they travel inward, cocooning themselves behind a mass of vanity, personal rights, and defensiveness. Such self-obsession is the defining mark of a disintegrating soul.
To those of us who struggle with pride Jesus said, “Blessed are you who realize that you are in fact lacking what makes you alive. Heaven is here and it has come for you” (paraphrase of Mt 5:3).
(Excerpt from Seven: the Deadly Sins and the Beatitudes by Jeff Cook)