Look What I Have Done!

Fr. Stephen Powley | 13 May 2022

Christ is Risen!!

The passion of pride darkens the soul completely and leads to its utter downfall.” (St. John Cassian, 360 –435). That huge mule deer buck in our photo had absolutely nothing to do with the growth of his antlers! I put that caption in the photo to remind us how often we can get so very full of ourselves over something that we actually had little to nothing to do with. That passion of pride is indeed a “tricksy” thing.

What makes pride such a wicked enemy is that we often don’t even realize its presence.  St. John Cassian gave us this description of pride: “a most sinister demon, he attacks the perfect above all and seeks to destroy those who have mounted almost to the heights of holiness.  Just as a deadly plague destroys not just one member of the body, but the whole of it, so pride corrupts the whole soul, not just part of it.  The passion of pride darkens the soul completely and leads to its utter downfall.” 

Here’s a simple story from an unknown author that shows how spiritual pride can come in catching us unawares:

A voyaging ship was wrecked during a storm at sea and only two of the men on it were able to swim to a small, desert like island.  The two survivors, not knowing what else to do, agreed that they had no other recourse but to pray to God.  However, to find out whose prayer was more powerful, they agreed to divide the territory between them and stay on opposite sides of the island.

The first man prayed for food.  The next morning, that first man saw a fruit-bearing tree on his side of the land, and he was able to eat its fruit. The other man’s parcel of land remained barren.

After a week, the first man was lonely and he decided to pray for a wife. The next day, another ship was wrecked, and the only survivor was a woman who swam to his side of the land. On the other side of the island, there was nothing.

Soon the first man prayed for a house, clothes, more food.  The next day, like magic, all of these were given to him.  However, the second man still had nothing.

Finally, the first man prayed for a ship, so that he and his wife could leave the island. In the morning, he found a ship docked at his side of the island. The first man boarded the ship with his wife and decided to leave the second man on the island.  He considered the other man unworthy to receive God’s blessings, since none of his prayers had been answered.

As the ship was about to leave, the first man heard a voice from heaven booming, “Why are you leaving your companion on the island?”

“My blessings are mine alone, since I was the one who prayed for them,” the first man answered. “His prayers were all unanswered and so he does not deserve anything.”

“You are mistaken!” the voice rebuked him. “He had only one prayer, which I answered.  If not for that, you would not have received any of my blessings.”

“Tell me,” the first man asked the voice, “What did he pray for that I should owe him anything?”

“He prayed that all your prayers be answered.”

The truth of the matter is that we honestly have nothing to be prideful about.  As the story of the two shipwrecked men illustrates, the very blessings in our lives (even the fact that we are still alive) may not be the fruits of our own prayers, but those of someone else praying for us. There is no doubt of that being the case in my own life.

One last thought: Perhaps we could even be the one praying for someone else!!  The blessings in that person’s life could be through our prayers.

God’s blessings to you as you ponder this truth!!

In our Risen Lord,

Fr. Stephen

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