Sunday, November 25, 2018

How to Battle Vainglory

We must be very vigilant against the spirit of vanity because it hinders all of our intentions with all kinds of allurements.  It impedes the monk's true progress by corrupting all his actions so that, no longer ordered to God, they become motivated by vainglory and the desire to seek to please others. 

For this reason we must constantly examine our thoughts and feelings to see: Are our actions done for God and for our spiritual benefit?  It is necessary to avoid any kind of praise from people and to recall to mind the words of the holy David: "The Lord has scattered the bones of them who please men" (Ps 52:6) in order to drive away any kind of self-flattering temptation that might inspire one to act in order to please others.

Let us be grounded firmly in our thoughts, so that we do all things in accord with God's will. If anyone so conducts himself with his deepest desire, he will be victorious when the temptation of vainglory should rise up against his will out of weakness.  But let him confess by praying to the Lord.  Let him transform such a thought by humbling and debasing himself.  And he who sees all of our heart will forgive us when our soul is totally open before him and we bring every movement of our soul to him.  He will not blame us for having such thoughts.

When we battle the temptation to vainglory we must act in this way: When we feel the stirring to seek self-praise for whatever reason, let us remember our tears and recall the terrifying Last Judgment as we stand before God, by praying some of our special prayers, if we have any that are effective.  If not, let us picture our final departure from this world and thus drive away such shameless vanity.  Still, if we cannot get rid of temptation in this way, let us fear at least the humiliation which will follow such vainglory. For, as St. John Climacus teaches, "He who exalts himself while still on this earth will not escape being humbled even before the life to come."

-From The Monastic Rule, by Nil Sorsky (1433-1508) monk, hermit, and scribe, venerated as a saint in the Russian Orthodox Church

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