How do I rid myself of pharisaism?

If I have constant problems with hypocrisy and believing myself to be better than others, what can I do for a constant reminder of humility? Even when I pray about the matter I still manage to think that since I pray, I am better than others or since I recognize my fault I am better. If I don’t think it, then I certainly act like it. What can I do?

First of all, keep in mind that you are not responsible for thoughts you do not will. If you deliberately and knowingly choose to entertain bad thoughts, then you become responsible.

A helpful means of addressing your problem might be to give others every benefit of the doubt you possibly can. For example, if you see what appears to be a liturgical abuse, try to tell yourself that it may have been done out of lack of knowledge, or it may have been done inadvertantly, or that perhaps you may be mistaken that it is indeed an abuse. Try very hard not to put it down to malicious intent. This can also be done when those you know engage in what are objectively immoral actions, when Church leaders say or do things that mystify you, or when friends and relatives disappoint you for whatever reason.

This isn’t to say that you excuse sin; only that you be slow to attribute incorrect actions to sinfulness. Every person can objectively determine whether particular actions constitute grave matter, but only each individual for himself, perhaps with the assistance of a confessor or spiritual director, can discern whether they have the necessary full knowledge and full consent for mortal sin.

**Recommended reading:

Problems in the Church** by Jimmy Akin (article)
God Help Me! These People Are Driving Me Nuts by Gregory K. Popcak (book)
Introduction to the Devout Life by St. Francis De Sales (book)

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