by Rev. Robert E. Lucas
from The Word, December 1962
In Arabic folklore, there is a tale that as the tares and the wheat grow, they show which God has blessed. The ears that have been blessed bow their heads and acknowledge every grain, and the more fruitful they are, the lower their heads are bowed. The tares which God has sent as a curse lift up their heads erect, high above the wheat, but they are only fruitful of evil.
Pride, in any form is an enemy of man. Pride deceives us and insists we have no faults, are better than others and that we should hold ourselves above our fellow man. Pride makes us think that all our talents, all our blessings emanate from ourselves and our own efforts and abilities. Pride discounts God and inflates the individual.
It is true that we should have reasonable pride in our appearance, our family, our home, school, and above all, in our Church. It is a healthy pride when we try to excel in our work, when we try to do better or to better ourselves. Of course, here too, the motive is important. We must make God our partner in our endeavors and in our successes.
Pride is the first sin that was committed in heaven and on earth. It was the voice of Lucifer that cried out: “I will ascend into heaven. I will exalt my throne above the stars of God.” (Isaiah 14: 13) It was the cause of the downfall of our first parents, Adam and Eve, because they thought they could be like God.
It is easy for us to think we are better than everyone else. With pride, other sins begin to creep into our lives and before we realize it, we are infested with all sorts of dangerous vices. Let us remember that from pride all perdition took its beginning.
We cannot come to Christ with pride in our hearts and souls. Christ’s admonition concerning pride, “Everyone who exalts himself shall be humbled,” provide us with direction on how we are to conquer pride. What are we to do if this sin betrays itself in our lives? Are we to pass it up and allow it to continue until it gets so powerful that it will master us completely; that it will throw our spiritual life completely into disproportion; or will we crush it before it leads to our inevitable destruction? The life of Christ can be our greatest inspiration. As we meditate upon His forty days of fasting and prayer before His public ministry, we will recall His great humility. Let us watch Him during His most trying times particularly during His passion and death. Look at our Lord in the Garden of Gethsemane and listen to His prayer: “Not My will, but THINE be done.”
The lives of those whom the Church has placed before us to venerate as saints are living proof that man can emerge triumphant over the human weakness of sin. How well, they who have received their crown of glory realize the emptiness of earthly fame and prestige. When we realize how much God dislikes pride and all other sins that are a result of it, we will come to understand why God plunged Lucifer into everlasting damnation; we will become cognizant of the reason for the confusion of tongues consequent to the erection of the tower of Babel; we will readily perceive why Goliath fell to David; why Christ rebuked the scribes and pharisees with divine righteous criticism.
When we look upon pride as a force that will drive us to our destruction and upon humility as a virtue designed to make us right with God, for it teaches that all good comes from Him, then we will begin to travel along the road to a happy and blissful eternity. Humility is truth and pride tries to level untruth with the truth, which is utterly impossible.
Just as the drug addict craves and desires more dope, the individual who hungers for praise and honor cannot be cured unless he goes to the sanatorium of humility. There he will find the cure that is necessary to rid himself of the horrible disease which results in human destruction if not checked. The supreme lesson in humility was taught us when our dear Lord carried the Cross for us, as He submitted to ridicule and torture, as He died the humiliating death of the Cross. We should constantly strive to remember that we came from nothing, that we are nothing, and that we can do nothing without the grace of God.
St. Nina, Equal-to-the-Apostles - January 14
O handmaid of the Word of God, who in preaching equaled the first-called Apostle Andrew, and emulated the other Apostles, enlightener of Iberia and reed-pipe of the Holy Spirit, holy Nina, pray to Christ our God to save our souls.
Kontakion of St. Nina, Tone 2
Let us sing praises to the chosen of Christ, Equal-to-the-Apostles and preacher of God's word, the bearer of good tidings who brought the people of Katralina to the path of life and truth, the disciple of the Mother of God, our zealous intercessor and unwearying guardian, the most praised Nina.