A farmer went out with his little boy, Tobias, into the cornfield, to see if his corn was nearly ripe. "Father," said the boy, "how is it that some stalks bend so low to the earth, but others hold their heads so upright? The latter must surely be very fine ones, and the others, which bow so low before them, must be very inferior." His father plucked a couple of ears : "Look," said he, "at this ear, which bends itself so modestly, it is full of the finest
grains; but this, which holds itself so proudly aloft, is quite barren and empty." A mincing air and haughty tread speak a weak heart and empty head.
The proud man refuses to give God the honor that is due Him. All natural and supernatural goods which we possess are gifts of God. If one ascribes to himself the good which he has, he is unjust towards God, and sins by pride. This kind of pride is very common. People ascribe everything to their own application, to their own skill, and deny to have received anything from God, so that they may not be obliged to give thanks to God. Thus the farmer says : "It is no wonder that I have good crops, I have prepared my ground well. There is no mystery in my prosperity."
The business man says : "I understand my business ; I am a shrewd business man and a good financier." These proud persons do not consider that with all their diligence they could not accomplish the least thing if God withheld His blessing. If any one on account of his good works seeks honor and praise from men, he does God a great injustice ; for God demands that men, whose chief end is to praise and glorify God, should occupy themselves in glorifying Him. Let us therefore guard against seeking our own glory in anything, but rather have God's glory in view in all our actions.
St. Rose of Lima was very beautiful in feature and form. But she looked upon beauty as a dangerous gift, because it easily leads to vanity, and she avoided everything that might attract notice. She even destroyed the delicate color of her skin by rubbing it with a sharp drug. Her beautiful hair she cut off. When misfortune suddenly befell her parents her devotion to them led her to try to think of a means to help out. She planted her garden with flowers, made bouquets, and sent a servant out to sell them on the market-place. The proceeds she gave to her mother. Rose permitted no pride to come to her mind. Therefore she did not hesitate to take service as a maid in the household of a man named Gonsalvus. She worked busily at her task, day and night, without, however, interrupting her communion with God. The poor and the sick of the city she visited diligently, but she scorned to make worldly calls merely for social pleasure. St. Rose had neither pride of mind nor of body. She did not think that she was better nor more virtuous than others; she was not vain of her physical beauty ; when her parents had become poor she did not hesitate to serve as a maid for their sake. And because she was not proud she was active in visiting the poor and the sick of the city. He who is proud does not do that, for with pride goes hardness of heart towards our fellow being. He who is proud makes life unbearable
for himself and for others, and at last comes to a fall.
Everything we have is loaned to us by God and we keep it only as long as God wills. God resists the proud. On account of pride Lucifer was cast out of heaven. Pride drove our first parents out of paradise, and plunged the whole human race into the misery of sin. Pride confused the tongues of the workers on the Tower of Babel. Pride brought the plague down on the legions of David.
A certain ruler in the East, whose name was Saladin, lay at the point of death. Seeing his end approaching, he commanded one of the courtiers to ride through the whole city, bearing on the point of his spear the winding-sheet which was being prepared for him, and in which he would soon be wrapped, and at the same time cry with loud voice, saying: "This is all that the great Saladin, the terror of his enemies, the mighty potentate of the East, can take with him to the grave, out of all the riches and treasures he possessed'."
My dear boys and girls, as we brought nothing into this world when we came into it, so also, when we depart out of it, we can take nothing with us. Why then should we be proud? Remember where you are, and sigh. Where is your soul? In a body which is subject to a thousand frailties. Where is your body? Upon an earth upon which the curse of God rests; in a valley of tears from which countless sighs and) groans daily ascend to heaven. How can we be proud ? What can dust be proud of ? Whither does our body go ? Into the grave, where it will moulder and return into its original dust.
The adorable Son of God chose for His mother a poor maiden of Galilee, for His foster-father a poor carpenter, for his palace a stable; He lived thirty years as the reputed son of a carpenter. He who was God became man to teach us that we are but men. The saints served God with fidelity, practiced all virtues, rendered great service to men—and yet they were little in their own eyes, and no vain thought found room in their hearts. Mary, the Mother of God, calls herself the handmaid of the Lord. St. John the Baptist deems himself unworthy to loose the latchet of the shoes of our Saviour. Looking at such examples, should we not banish all pride from our hearts ?
Frequently think of the awful consequences which pride draws after it; consider your lowly state, and keep the example of Jesus and His saints before you eyes, that you may learn of them to be meek and humble of heart.
Source: Story Sermonettes for the Children's Mass, Imprimatur 1921