Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Fifth Week after Epiphany.
"The way that leads to God-practical counsels for those who aspire after true piety" by Abbe A Saudreau, translated by Leonora L.Yorke Smith. R&T Washbourne, Ltd, London 1911.

44. Voluptuousness is the most degrading of all the passions, but it is not the hardest to cure or the most dangerous. Separation from, and, above all, the deceptions and treacheries of those by whom he believed himself to be loved, may bring a man back from the idolatry of the creature to the true God. Sickness may compel the sensualist to control his gross inclinations; serious reverses may detach the avaricious from wordly possessions. At times also the example of virtous lives may make the debauchee enter into himself; the drunkard, his health undermined by excess, groans over his fatal tendency; a wholesome feeling of shame takes possession of those who have been weak enough to yield to all these vices, and occasionally, at any rate, they will conceive a longing to escape from their degradation. But pride, the fatuous admiration for his own qualities, the idolatry of the 'me' - who will cure this grave disease? The proud man is satisfied with himself; he perceives none of his faults, he sees no reasone for wishing to alter his life.
The pride man is his own idol; he holds to it even more tenaciously than the miser to his gold, than the sensualist to the pleasures of the table, or the man caught in some guilty entanglement to the object of his infatuation. Those who carry their incense to other idols admit by this very fact that something is wanting in themselves, and that they require to seek it outside. The proud man, on the contrary, will in no wise admit his own poverty, or owe anything to any other creature. Troubles and obstacles which often daunt other sinners and check their rebellion only irritate the proud man, and strenghten, instead of weakening, his pride. For he kicks against humiliations, and inflates himself the more if anyone seeks to belittle him.
45. What a terrible disorder pride becomes when, from never being resisted, it develops to the point of deserving the name of idolatry! He indeed is a self-wrshipper who makes himself the centre of everything, who feasts himself upon the contemplation of his fancied qualities, judging his fellow-creatures severely, despising them, and considering himself superior to everyone. Nothing can undeceive them. All those who come near him are disgusted with his self-sufficiency, his ridiculous presumption; but he remains none the less pleased with himself. He is so enamoured of self, he makes so little of all that is not self, that even God is of small account in his eyes. Such is his confidence in his own industry and talents that he feels no need of the Divine assistance. One would think that he could dispense with God - that he aspires to usurp His place, and direct the affairs of the world. If annyone points out to him that God's designs may be in opposition to his private aims, and that all his efforts may therefore be in vain, the thought revolts him. There exists within him a germ of that pretension of Lucifer: "I will ascend above the height of the clouds; I will be like the Most High."(Isa. XIV, 14).
He adores himself, and he also wishes to be adored. That people should think about him, should occupy themselves with him, is a joy to him; to be admired and loved is a yet greater delight. But still he is not satisfied. He demands that others ahould be subject to him, for he has a thirst for power. In order to be really contended, he must be able to impose the laws of his will and the decrees of his own wisdom upon others.