spiritual pride

What is meant by spiritual pride?

When you want to be noticed for how holy you are. When you think you are holier than someone else. When you think you know better than God…just to name a few.

St John of the Cross sums it up nicely in my opinion:

“Some souls suffer from another kind of spiritual anger. They watch over others with a kind of restless fervor, perpetually annoyed by the transgressions they perceive. The impulse arises to reprove the other souls in an angry way. Sometimes they even indulge this nasty urge, elevating themselves as masters of virtue. This is all quite contrary to spiritual meekness.”

Excellent and to the point. And I’m feeling like I have done this sooooo many times…confession today, anyone?:eek::smiley:


On a larger scale, how does institutional religion escape this, Catholics think they are right and have the fullness of truth, the Jewish faith think they are right, Islam thinks it is right…etc. and none of them believe that they are suffering from spiritual pride because they think they are right. Isn’t that spiritual pride?:confused:

I struggle with spiritual pride myself which is really weird since I have really bad depression. You wouldn’t think that someone who was depressed would have pride as well but I do. Well, at least I wouldn’t think that. I guess pride and depression seem kind of contradictory but then again the human mind is a very complex thing.

Holly, I also struggle with spiritual pride myself. But I find it hard to break out of it. For example, if i think differently from a catholic ( i was born and raised catholic) or challenge its teaching I become demonized as a cafeteria catholic or liberal catholic, or worse told I’m going to hell. This creates shame, simply for having my own opinion. Over the years i have distanced myself from the church, although i have been trying to make my way back in, but the blocks are still there. I think that when a religion says they are right about everything with no openness to change and no flexibility, it contradicts humility. So when i try to re-engage with the church I feel I bump into this imaginary wall that keeps me out, because I know I have a difference of opinion with some of its teachings and don’t want to be demonized. :shrug:

It is not pride to recognize the truth of a thing. Thus, to assent to the truth of the Catholic Faith and to witness to the Truth - who is God revealed in Christ - is living authentically. To say that there is no truth is to live relativistically and with a false humility. True humility rejoices in the truth while knowing its dependence on the One Who Is True. Pride, otoh, leads to the self-worship of one’s own predilections.

But the Church doesn’t say it is right about everything, now, does it? It does, however, say that it is right about Christ’s Self-revelation and what He has given to the Church to proclaim regarding Faith and Morals for our salvation. That doesn’t contradict humility, but, otc, strengthens how one can live in imitation of our humble Savior (Who, after all, declared Himself to be the Way, the Truth, and the Life).

Jesus Christ Divine Mercy to St. Faustina

1563 The greatest misery does not stop Me from uniting Myself to a soul, but where there is pride, I am not there.

Sometimes I wonder if there is any virtue in being one of the bitter faithful. Perhaps we (yes, I am one) are no better than the cavorting sinners. At least the sinners are being honest with themselves.

Oh, to have fidelity and to praise God for this grace! It’s a hard lesson to learn; I guess that’s why life takes so long.

I suppose it is difficult not to fall into the sin of spiritual pride to a degree when we see how un-Godly the world around us truly is. A Christian obviously draws a conclusion that a life of serving God is better than leading a life of not serving God. From this we can easily be tempted to think since I follow God I am therefore better and more holy than that guy over there who doesn’t care about God. I struggle with this distinction all the time.

I think this is exactly why Jesus gave us so many pictures of an allegedly inferior person demonstrating greater faith than those who were thought of as righteous. Church leaders. The only time I remember Jesus getting upset over sinners was in the case of the moneychangers; other than that Jesus never raised his voice to sinners to tell them they were sinners, but he raised his voice aplenty at those who would criticize those very people. He constantly and enthusiastically attacked pretenses, haughty attitudes, condescension, etc. more than crimes of temptation or flesh. (And no I am not suggesting sinful behavior does not matter. :rolleyes: )

That’s why Jesus tells us that thought crimes and physical crimes (being angry with brother v. murder) are mystically similar. He didn’t tell us that so we can be more paranoid that now we’re going to have Thought Police or something. I’m sure He told us that to level the field between the righteous and the sinners. For example, with the adulteress, there could have been people there ready to throw stones who a) wish they had been with her, b) actually had been with her, c) be gleeful in administering punishment, d) they themselves are adulterers but didn’t get caught, e) they are guilty of worse sins so it makes them feel better about themselves to stone the whore. Of course, they all had sins. I see Jesus using a strategy of putting us all in the same boat, because truly each of our actions influences the outcome of each other. If we attain perfect humility, then we will be able to look at each other as true peers. We are different parts of the body so some of us do this, others do that. But none is better in God’s eyes.

On spiritual pride and judging each other, I like the song Brother’s Keeper by Rich Mullins. Here is an excerpt:


Are we submitted to the will of God? If we are not, we are living in pride.

What is the will of God? His will is not only for us to hear and profess the teachings that God gave to us through His Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, but to obey.

How are we able to obey the teachings of our Lord Jesus Christ? We ourselves are not able to obey. “Without me (Jesus) you can do nothing”.

The bump you are feeling is the universal resistance of being submitted to the will of God;
and spiritual depression is oftentimes, the lack of faith in the One who is able to conform us to the will of God.

Pride pursues us in every thought, word, or deed that is contrary to the will of our Father in heaven. The only solution is “to be crucified with Christ, so that we no longer live, but that Christ lives in us.” “Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am meek and lowly of heart, and you shall find rest unto your souls”.

God’s peace


A Biblical example can be found in today’s EF mass Gospel reading.

Luke 18:

10 Two men went up into the temple to pray: the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican.

11 The Pharisee standing, prayed thus with himself: O God, I give thee thanks that I am not as the rest of men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, as also is this publican.

12 I fast twice in a week: I give tithes of all that I possess.

13 And the publican, standing afar off, would not so much as lift up his eyes towards heaven; but struck his breast, saying: O god, be merciful to me a sinner.

14 I say to you, this man went down into his house justified rather that the other: because every one that exalteth himself, shall be humbled: and he that humbleth himself, shall be exalted.

Although most people are not going to say, I’m glad I’m not like so-and-so, a lot of times we have underlying spiritual pride which we might not be aware of. Sometimes the desire and zeal to help save souls can lose some of its purity and devolve into just pride.

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