From the Baltimore Catechism:
PRIDE - The inordinate seeking of one’s own excellence. It is opposed to the virtue of humility. It is the source of presumption, ambition, vainglory, and boasting.
From a teaching I once did on Capital Sins:
CAPITAL SINS: Pride
aka Perfectibility of Man, Progress, Prosperity Gospel, . . .]
Pride is the sin; the basis for all the rest. Pride puts oneself in place of God. It is the sin of Satan, and the sin of Adam and Eve. Pride states: I am the master of my fate; I am the captain of my soul.
Saint Paul reminds us that we have no basis for our pride. What have you that you did not receive? If then you received it, why do you boast as if it were not a gift? [1 Cor 4:7]
The Greeks feared Pride as Hubris; it is the precursor to destruction in their tragedies. The Book of Proverbs [16:18 ] says the same: Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.
Archbishop Sheen offers eight manifestations of Pride:
- Atheism, which denies our dependence upon God.
- Intellectual Vanity, which thinks it encompasses all knowledge.
- Superficiality, which judges others by their appearance, dress, wealth.
- Snobbery, which sneers at others to support its own superiority
- Vainglory, which seeks fame in the trappings of society.
- Presumptuousness, which causes one to value oneself too highly, to seek rewards rather than to make a contribution.
- Exaggerated Sensitiveness, To be unable to hear of ones faults.
Pride is an especially vulnerable point of one who would be holy. The Pharisees were holy men. However they focused on how far they had come; not on how far they had to go. The Pharisee gloried in his advancement over the Publican [Lk 18:9-14] and missed the call to go further.
Pride is also the vulnerability of the reformer. One sets out to improve the lot of the poor, but comes to believe that if one tries hard enough he can cure all the world’s ills. Heaven on Earth will come not from man’s efforts but by God’s action.