Pride: Part 1


Pride: Part 1


The Lack




The Spirit





as taught by


God the Father in His Words

Our Lord Jesus Christ in His Lessons

Our Lady of Emmitsburg in her Messages

The Saints of the Church

and in

The Catechism of the Catholic Church

(Compiled by Michael T. Sullivan, MD)




“..It is pride that changed angels into devils;

it is humility that makes men as angels.”

(St. Augustine)


God had a Plan.  His Plan was a pure and holy Plan—a plan devoid of sin.  In His generosity He gave both angels and man free will—a gift which allowed for selfishness to enter into the world and alter His Plan.  Sin was able to establish its reign, and its roots penetrated the very core of  the angelic spirits as well as humanity.  Pride is the very root of all sin.


PRIDE is defined “as an inordinate esteem of oneself. It is inordinate because it is contrary to the truth. It is essentially an act or disposition of the will desiring to be considered better than a person really is. Pride may be expressed in different ways: by taking personal credit for gifts or possessions, as if they had not been received from God; by glorying in achievements, as if they were not primarily the result of divine goodness and grace; by minimizing one's defects or claiming qualities that are not actually possessed; by holding oneself superior to others or disdaining them because they lack what the proud person has; by magnifying the defects of others or dwelling on them. When pride is carried to the extent that a person is unwilling to acknowledge dependence on God and refuses to submit his or her will to God or lawful authority, it is a grave sin. The gravity arises from the fact that a person shows contempt for God or of those who take his place. Otherwise, pride is said to be imperfect and venially wrong.” (Fr. John Hardon's Modern Catholic Dictionary)


Pride looks down on God because it envies His glory, His power and His authority.  St. John Vianney, the 19th century French priest and mystic speaks about that relationship between pride and envy, and the Catechism of the Catholic Church affirms that relationship and offers the only antidote:  humility:


“Envy, my children, follows pride; whoever is envious is proud.  See, envy comes to us from Hell; the devils having sinned through pride, sinned also through envy, envying our glory, our happiness.  Why do we envy the happiness and the goods of others?  Because we are proud; we should like to be the sole possessors of talents, riches, of the esteem and love of all the world!  We hate our equals, because they are our equals; our inferiors, from the fear that they may equal us; and our superiors, even God, because they are above us….”  (St. John Vianney, 1815-1819)


Catechism of the Catholic Church

V. The Proliferation of Sin

1865    Sin creates a proclivity to sin; it engenders vice by repetition of the same acts. This results in perverse inclinations which cloud conscience and corrupt the concrete judgment of good and evil. Thus sin tends to reproduce itself and reinforce itself, but it cannot destroy the moral sense at its root.

1866    Vices can be classified according to the virtues they oppose, or also be linked to the capital sins which Christian experience has distinguished, following St. John Cassian and St. Gregory the Great. They are called “capital” because they engender other sins, other vices. They are pride, avarice, envy, wrath, lust, gluttony and sloth…..

2539    Envy is a capital sin. It refers to the sadness at the sight of another’s goods and the immoderate desire to acquire them for oneself, even unjustly. When it wishes grave harm to a neighbor it is a mortal sin….

2540    Envy represents a form of sadness and therefore a refusal of charity; the baptized person should struggle against it by exercising good will. Envy often comes from pride; the baptized person should train himself to live in humility….

2094  One can sin against God’s love in various ways:

indifference…,ingratitude...,lukewarmness…, and spiritual sloth…. The hatred of God comes from pride. It is contrary to love of God, whose goodness it denies, and whom it presumes to curse as the one who forbids sins and inflicts punishments.

“It is better to be humbled with the meek,

than to divide spoils with the proud.

(Prov 16:19)



While not all sins are pride, it can lead to all sorts of sins, notably presumption, ambition, vainglory, boasting, hypocrisy, strife, and disobedience. Pride strives for perverse excellence. It despises others and, depending on its perversity, even looks down upon God. (Fr. John Hardon's Modern Catholic Dictionary)

As we explore the journey of Pride through our human spirit, we should also early on define that antidote—that virtue—which is the “foundation of all the other virtues; thus, in the soul in which humility does not exist, there can be no other virtue except in mere appearance.”  (St. Augustine)

HUMILITY isthe moral virtue that keeps a person from reaching beyond himself. It is the virtue that restrains the unruly desire for personal greatness and leads people to an orderly love of themselves based on a true appreciation of their position with respect to God and their neighbors. Religious humility recognizes one's total dependence on God; moral humility recognizes one's creaturely equality with others. Yet humility is not only opposed to pride; it is also opposed to immoderate self-abjection, which would fail to recognize God's gifts and use them according to his will.”   (Fr. John Hardon's Modern Catholic Dictionary)


“The Lord is near unto them that are contrite of heart;

and He will save the humble of spirit.”

(Ps 33:19)


Pride:  In General Terms

“…But if you will not hear this,

my soul shall weep in secret for your pride.

Weeping it shall weep, and my eyes shall run down the tears,

because the flock of the Lord is carried away captive….”

(Jer 13:17)


In His Lessons to the world through Gianna Talone Sullivan, Our Lord acknowledges the destructive force of human pride which in itself inhibits man from offering that very vice to Our Lord, placing it at the Foot of His Cross.  No matter how long and how thoroughly He has spoken to humanity through Sacred Scripture, through the Church and through His prophets and messengers, so few listen, but rather go about their business in disbelief and disobedience.  Following the poisonous venoms spewed forth by the evil one, humanity far too often succumbs to the poison of envy and pride, leading to a hatred which squelches all intimacy with their Creator: 


“…Because of My people’s pride, and pride is always last to be  offered up to Me, My people want to be ‘gods’ themselves and rulers of their lives.  It is because of this that there are so many destructions of kingdoms—man-made kingdoms….If My people would put their pride in Me, their Lord, there would be no destruction!


“To do this you need humbleness and humility, which you cannot receive without giving Me your heart….This lesson on pride will be one that many will choose not to grasp, because accepting it and offering Me their pride will conflict with the kingdom of pride they have created within themselves, their kingdom of ‘I am god and only I can rule.’  The reason for the wars you create is because of your pride in yourselves, instead of pride in Me, your only God….”  (JOM, Vol I, #50, April 9, 1989, Pride)


“…My people do not listen to Me….They pray to Me for events to happen; and when they do, they act in disbelief….We have now allowed My Mother all that she wishes, and my people still look on in disbelief….Her words are of love, prayer, thanksgiving and encouragement.  My words are of mercy, forgiveness, love and respect….You people cannot handle all I wish to give and teach you because of your pompous ego and pride.  When you do listen, then you do not obey!...”  (JOM, Vol I, ,#53, May 30, 1989, Pride—Ego)


“…My works of Love and Mercy are continually judged falsely and are scandalized by others.  This is because of the poisonous venoms of resentment, jealousy and pride continue to seep into the wicked who thrive on self-love….That is why the prince of darkness, Satan, was hurled down from the heavens.  His pride and jealousy caused him to boast in self-righteousness and self-love to the point that he would have no glory shared with any human being.  He wanted all for himself.  From the poison of envy, pride and jealousy grew an incurable hatred which resulted in death….”  (JOM, Vol V, #10, Mar. 26, 1995, Poisonous Venoms or Refreshing Waters?)


“…There is so much hatred in your world that love is growing cold….I want people to be intimate with Me, but intimacy is inversely related to self-centeredness and self-image.  The greater their selfishness and pride, the less they are intimate.  The greater their love, the less they are self-centered, and the more they are intimate….”  (JOM, Vol II, #29, Dec. 23, 1989, Mother of All Children)


“…As I live, says the Lord God,

I will deal with you according to your anger and your envy

which you have exercised in your hatred….

I will make Myself known among you when I judge you,

and you shall know that I am the Lord….”

(Ez 35: 11-12)


Our Lady of Emmitsburg reaffirms that God has a Plan, but sadly admits that so many of her children have little interest in it.  All the enticements of the world seem to inhibit so much of humanity from maturing in God’s Love and surrendering with childlike confidence to His Will.  It is that indifference to His Will, or even worse, a sense of superiority over it, that extinguishes the opportunity for change in so many.  If man does not see any need to recognize his weaknesses and, with the help of God’s grace, to use them to grow in holiness, then those pillars of pride will remain, and those pillars of God’s grace will never be actualized. Thus, humanity will bring about its own fall before God can shed His Mercy a final time in an attempt to allow all of His children to share in the eternal victory in the heavens:


“…God the Father has a tremendous Plan too, especially for this country.  As you have seen, there are idolatry and greed at all different levels.  Very few people are truly reaching out and helping their neighbors.  Many give, only desiring what it may gain for themselves….”  (Private OLOE, April 26, 2006)


“…Conditions and restrictions molded into your lifestyle, along with the need to control, inhibit you from maturing in God’s Love and surrendering with total trust and childlike confidence to His Will….Realize how you judge someone when that person does not meet your standards, and how your pride will not accept or permit a person to change.  When you perform an act as such, you are proclaiming by your actions and thoughts to be superior to God.  By not allowing people to forget, you do not allow mercy to unfold and love to mature in its entirety….”  (Public OLOE, Feb. 5, 1998)


“As you know, I will always extend an opportunity to change; and my Son in His most merciful Love will always accept, even to one’s last breath, a “yes.”  My point to you, however, is that by the time they reach this circumstance, their eyes are clouded, their minds confused, their hearts hardened, and their will wrapped in torment by pillars of pride….”    (Private OLOE, Sept. 25, 2008)


“…God loves you in your weakness and invites you to trust in Him so that you can grow in holiness and humility.  If you seek to love as God loves and to do His Will, God can turn your human weakness into a strong pillar to house great graces and virtues.  But if you have repugnance for your weakness, avoiding God’s Mercy, you will weaken, and vices of self-pride and lack of patience will prevent God’s pillar of graces to rest with you….And if people avoid God’s Mercy and Love, love and mercy will cease to exist; and the greatest enemy against man will be man….”  (Public OLOE, May 11, 1995)


“…This is the time of tremendous turmoil.  In this turmoil there will be great victory, not as you might expect it to be, because first the humanity of this country must fall.  In their sorrow they will know that the cause of their sin is pride and vanity. But God will have mercy on them and lift them up.  In His victory, as He raises all those souls to Himself, you shall see great glory in the heavens….”  (Private OLOE, Mar. 16, 2003)


“Greater love than this no man hath,

that a man lay down his life for his friends.”

(Jn 15:13)


There is no human being ever created that had a more intimate experience of both the Love and suffering of Our Lord than His Mother.  She saw the results of what can happen when pride blocks both humility and submission to God’s Will.  She also understands through her own suffering the necessity of sharing the cross with her Son.  That same responsibility falls upon all of us in one way or another; but although many are invited, She tells us that few respond. Rather, we often scatter because of our pride, thus losing the opportunity to grow in virtue by enduring those hardships.  Our Lady of Emmitsburg then sadly shares the reality of what those will experience who persecuted her Son and mocked His Mother—they will see what they could have had:


“…There has never been a Love more abused than that of my Son’s, Who even took on your sins because of His Love for you.  The sword that pieced His Heart for sake of love is painful indeed.  No servant is greater than his master.  Difficulty arises when pride prevents you to humble yourself to the submission of love…..You cannot give of yourself unless you love and serve in union with Him, or it will become apparent that your love is merely superficial and of human origin.  Your love must be of Jesus….”  (Public OLOE, Feb. 26, 1998)


“…Those who are called to my Son can only mimic and walk His Way through His Cross.  As He suffered, you too must come to Him through your suffering.  The crosses He has given to you, you shall bear with strength, fortitude and perseverance….As you do this, you are not only purified, but you shall become One with Him, in Union with the Triune God where all grace shall abound within you….There are many invited, but there are very few who respond; because when they are invited, things initially go well.  But then as tribulations and purifications unfold, or persecutions and humiliations present in their lives, just as my Son experienced, many run away frightened and scatter because of their pride, their vanity and their own righteousness….”  (Private OLOE, May 1, 2003)


"…There are many times in your lives that you may be challenged or that you may experience hardships, suffering, injustices, unkind words and uncharitable acts.  When these happen, they are all for your betterment and growth in my Son.  Be humble and accept what you receive from others; and perhaps reflect within yourselves on those areas in which you can grow more in virtue, the areas of self-pride, vanity and self-righteousness.  And always look to my Son.  He will turn those areas into the most beautiful and glorious virtues in Himself….”  (Public OLOE, Nov. 21, 2004)  


“Those, of all faiths, who are chosen by God because they have given their “fiat,” are well taken care of.  Those, who do not take seriously my words and who have not followed through, and those who have persecuted my Son through mockery of me, will be revealed in the essence of Light; and they will see what they could have had….” (Private OLOE, Sept. 25,2008)


“…What could I have done like to what you have done?...”

(Judges 8:3)




“…When I turned to all the works that my hands had wrought

and to the toil at which I had taken such pains:

Behold!  All was vanity and a chase after wind,

with nothing gained under the sun….”

(Eccles 2:11)


There is a common thread that runs between the definitions of Pride and Vanity, but also some subtle differences.  Pope Francis I provides a somewhat humorous, but also thought provoking analogy that helps him to reflect on that difference when he says, An example I often use to illustrate the reality of vanity, is this: look at the peacock; it's beautiful if you look at it from the front. But if you look at it from behind, you discover the truth....Whoever gives in to such self-absorbed vanity has huge misery hiding inside them....” (Pope Francis I)


The Modern Catholic Dictionary defines VANITY is “an inordinate desire to manifest one's own excellence. It differs from pride, which is the uncontrolled desire for self-esteem, in that vanity primarily seeks to show others what a person has or has achieved. A vain person looks for praise from others and may go to great lengths to obtain it. More commonly, vanity is associated with an exaggerated importance attached to multiple details, especially external appearances, which in no way contain the value attributed to them. It is ostentation in fashion, wealth, or power regarded as an occasion of empty pride.  Thus, where pride, though sinful, may have some foundation in fact for whatever one prides oneself on being or having done, vanity is the idle effort to obtain recognition or respect for what a person does not have a rightful claim to….It is an inflated pride and, as such, is venially sinful.” (Fr. John Hardon's Modern Catholic Dictionary)

“Vanity of vanities!  All things are vanity!”

(Eccles 1:2)


Our Lord in His Lessons to the world does not mince words about the state of His people and the effects vanity has on the soul.  Vanity blinds people to the Truth, allowing them to place value on themselves and their fellow human beings, rather than on the acceptance by God Himself.  This misguided search for human acceptance will bring every man and woman to that day when the veil will be lifted and the Truth fully revealed.  It is then that all will judge themselves in the light of God’s Love, “self’ will be exposed, motives will no longer be hidden, and pain will be the tool of both God’s Justice and Mercy:


“…My people are vain.  There is no humility or self-denial.  My people do not renounce themselves and ask for My Spirit to purify and sanctify them—vanity!  Woe to those who seek My knowledge out of curiosity, instead of seeking My knowledge with humility and with a lack of pride….Your external treasures are short-lived.  The body spoils and decays, but your soul lives!...Vanity and seeking external stimuli as your treasure will only kill your soul!...Vanity inspires the evil one, but self-denial slays him!...Know it is better not to speak if your words lack humility, are full of pride, and question disrespectfully….Take heed of My words.  Your vanity is killing your soul….”  (JOM Vol I, #74, Aug. 8, 1989, Vanity)


“…Truth cannot be defined by words.  Truth is the living breath of My Spirit.  It is putting into action prayers of mercy and charity….You can have examples and explanations on how to live to find truth, but the word ‘truth’ itself is Me, for I am Truth!...Put aside your vanity and pompous acts, and live in My Truth.  Live in Me, the Truth of the living Spirit!...”  (JOM, Vol I, #76, Aug. 10, 1989, Truth)


“…I am asking for devotion and commitment to prayer through the love of your heart, not through spiritual vanity.  Pray for spiritual emptiness so that true devotion to Me can exist.  Many practice their devotion when they feel spiritually comforted.  This is spiritual vanity, placing value on yourself, imposed on you by you!  How few there are who are devoted to Me in emptiness, because few people risk the trouble to themselves to follow Me and grow through the aches and pains of darkness where My Truth of purification and cleansing lies.


“I come to My people in two ways:  one in the form of comfort, the other in trials.  I deem fit what is merited for them.  I rebuke their vanity and vices, or I exhort and comfort them with virtue….


“…Be devoted to Me and seek My acceptance, not the acceptance created by the standards of mankind.  I tell you this because the day is coming when the Son of Man will give you a warning of the bitterness of chastisement, where each man and woman across the world will see the judgment of themselves….


“…If you seek acceptance and weight the importance of spirituality based on the standards of mankind and its vanity, your judgment will be hard because your judgment will be the one you make against yourself.  If you seek acceptance of Me and are devoted to Me with all the painstaking steps I lead you through now for purification, you will see that My path is not rock or narrow, but is a royal thoroughfare of Love leading to eternal freedom….The day is coming, and it is coming soon, when the chastisement sent from My Father cannot be escaped….Do not wait, or it will be too late….”  (JOM, Vol IV, #9, Nov. 24, 1991, Devotion)


“…Enlighten your mind and spirit through enthusiasm, but be careful that your motives are not self-pleasing through vanity, instead of pleasing for the heavens….Sorrows and burdens will come, and they will pass….All trials and sufferings end….Many start out enthused to conquer.  Few realize that the way to conquer is to be conquered first by God.  The pleasures of ‘self’ must be conquered; and due to your human natures, they can only be conquered in the midst of pain!....”  (JOM, Vol IV, #59, Aug. 14, 1992, Motives)


“…A sinner is caught in his own vanity,

and the proud and the evil speakers shall fall thereby….”

(Sirach 23:8)


Through her understanding of the inclination in all her children to be quick to claim spiritual expertise when they may still be vain novices on their spiritual journey, Our Lady of Emmitsburg warns of those obstacles which inhibit God’s grace of true discernment and wisdom from being realized:


“…When people become active in prayer and have gained some knowledge, by the grace of God, oftentimes they may think they know how to counsel others and be quick to answer questions of the spiritual world.  This is dangerous and can result in spiritual vanity….God grants the grace of discernment and wisdom to a chosen few, at His liking, and it is a great gift indeed.  Those who have this grace do not wonder whether they have received it, and yet are not quick or eager to give advice or counsel on spiritual matters…Obstacles to discernment and prayer come from two angles.  Firstly, vain or sinful thoughts can turn them away from prayer; or secondly, beautiful and complimentary thoughts can turn them away from true discernment to focus on their own thoughts, and the soul loses its communion with God….”  (Public OLOE, May 7, 1998)

“…Today there will be a storm, for the sky is red and lowering.

You know then how to discern the face of the sky,

and can you not know the signs of the times?...”

(Mt 16:3)




“…He is exceedingly proud.

His pride and his arrogance and his indignation

are more than his strength….”

(Isaias 16:6)


Webster’s Dictionary defines ARROGANCE as "an insulting way of thinking or behaving that comes from believing that you are better, smarter, or more important than other people."


Our Lord in His Lessons speaks of people using their mask of superiority and falsified importance to justify their not sharing what they have or know with their fellow man, thus causing an atmosphere of rejection.  However, He warns that this denial of others their dignity can only result in the denial of the arrogant by their Father:

“…Many people put on their mask of superiority and importance!  They think they are better than their neighbor because they know something their neighbor does not, but they will not share it either.  So many of My people feel rejected because of this type of arrogance.


“I tell you, it is not I who reject My people.  It is My people who reject their fellow neighbors because they think they are more superior—a falsified importance created by man….I share my words with you to teach you and for you to share with one another….When you hide what you know from your fellow brothers and sisters, they only feel rejected…If you deny your neighbors the dignity an acceptance due to them, My Father shall deny you, for you are denying acceptance of Him….”  (JOM, Vol I, #72, July 29, 1989, Share My Words)


“…They claim to know God,

but by their deeds they deny Him.

They are vile and disobedient

and unqualified for any good deed…”

(Titus 1:16)


Looking back over the 2nd half of the twentieth century up to the present day, we can see through the private revelations of Our Lady, both Church-approved and yet-to-be approved, an initial enthusiasm and fervency; but as time has gone by and the contents of the messages have become more challenging, indifference and back-sliding have become apparent.  Our Lady of Emmitsburg asks her children to ponder both faith and Truth, and not to be deceived by the pride and arrogance which has allowed evil to infiltrate into almost every aspect of life.  However, she takes this one step further when she acknowledges the fact that this same pride and arrogance could lead to one falsely presuming God’s forgiveness in the absence of repentance, or it could  actually deceive someone into believing that their very sinfulness outweighs God’s Mercy, thus leading them into rejecting God’s Mercy and salvation.  Finally, she asks, “Are you ready?”


“…It is my duty as your Mother to point out to you that you are content when you hear words from Heaven which appeal to your liking and needs, but ignore and put off to fallacy any challenges or words you do not desire to hear.  Perhaps, little children, you should humble yourselves and ponder what faith is and how it represents God’s Truth at all costs…. Be gentle and show acts of love and charity to others, or you will not be able to recognize any sign from Heaven because of your own pride and arrogance.  This only leads to affliction and self-destruction….”  (Public OLOE, July 20, 2000)


“…The world is in a troublesome time.  Evil has subtly infiltrated into the minds of people through many means….Throughout history, in different eras, evil has penetrated to the core of humanity, but never to the extent that it has today….I have given messages of hope and spiritual preparation.  Many people did not listen nor did they care.  Indifference and arrogance highlighted and exposed their ignorance.  Now these people will learn the Truth through their own difficulties and sufferings…People may reject God’s grace and push Him aside, but ultimately they will come to know the Truth of His Love and what they could have attained….”  (Private OLOE, Nov. 9, 2008)


"…Put on the garment of your new self, embroidered with Love and Mercy.  Do not despair and never refuse to ask forgiveness from God.  Be mindful not to sin against the Holy Spirit….If you believe your sin is so great that God cannot forgive you, then you are in danger of blasphemy and are rejecting salvation.  Neither should you be so presumptuous that Jesus will forgive you that you avoid asking for forgiveness.  Your attitude and behavior must be one of humility and meekness….We are closing in on this current age.  Are you ready to celebrate His Love in the next age?…"  (Public OLOE, Dec. 3, 1998)



“…Scatter the proud in thy indignation,

and behold every arrogant man and humble him…..”

(Job 40:6)



The End

“The Spirit of Pride”

Part 1