Catholics/Pride

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Question
Father,
I don't go to church as much as I should, but now I'm an adult and have a three year old son called Henry I try to take him as much as I can when my shifts allow.

I think it was mentioned in a mass recently about pride and it being one of the deadly sins. Although I knew that previously, it got me thinking why.

For me pride is a good thing. In my younger days in the army I wanted to look good on parade due to pride. It was pride and fear of failure that kept me going on route marches when I was tired and had to lug a heavy backpack around a training area.

I'm now a policeman and its pride that stops me falling asleep during night shifts and its the reason that I want to keep my paperwork out to date etc.

So why is pride considered to be a sin? I probably knew the answer when I was a kid, but its been bugging me for a few days now!

Thanks

Mark Smith

Answer
The meaning assigned to Pride is going to determine whether or not it is to be considered one of the seven deadly sins.

The term "Pride" is often used interchangeably with the term "Hubris" Used in this sense it refers to an unhealthy, exaggerated and inflated sense of one's personal status or accomplishments. This is psychologically unhealthy because it is a form of arrogance.  It is sinful because it leads to a false sense of security in one's spiritual life.  One starts relying on one's own powers instead of that of God.  In this sense, Pride becomes self-centered.  

Used in a positive sense Pride means a satisfied sense of attachment towards the choices one has made or a group of people one identifies with.  When you talked about your work as a policeman you were using the word in this sense.  This is not sinful.  In fact this is healthy.  Here you know who you are and what you represent.  In other words this sense of pride is other centered because it is not only concerned with your work as a policeman, but those you work with.  You want to make your team look good, not just yourself.  

Saint Augustine defined Pride as "The love of one's own excellence."  I might suggest it can be defined as "Faith in one's own excellence."  Again, in this sense Pride is sinful precisely because it directs our hearts away from God onto self and the accomplishments of self. Whenever we put our Faith in self as opposed to God we are not living the life of God and cannot be saved.  That is why Pride is one of the deadly sins. I causes us to forget that we depend on God for everything, and that our lives are meant to be a reflection of the Glory of God, not our own glory.  

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Father Dave Bechtel

Expertise

I am a Catholic priest in good standing and in active ministry in the Diocese of Scranton PA. I can answer most any question about the Catholic Faith, however my area of specialization is Systematic Theology. Systematic Theology is a branch of theology that focuses on the fundamental tenants of the Faith and the Dogmas of the Faith. I have specialization on the Reformation and Catholic vs. Protestant theology/issues and answering Protestant challenges to the Faith.

Experience

I was ordained in June of 2008. Since that time the thrust of my ministry has been specialized. In my first assignment I was an assistant pastor. A year later I was sent to work in education. I spent six (6) years in education and have now assumed my first pastorate. While education was the thrust of my ministry, nevertheless I continued to have a hand in parish ministry, hospital chaplaincy and prison chaplaincy. Now that I am out of education I will obviously be focusing more on parish work than specialized ministry. I have two years of formal Clinical Pastoral Education and prior to ordination I successfully pursued Board Certification for health care ministry through the NACC. My certification needs to be renewed and I plan to seek dual certification in health care ministry (NACC and APC) when I renew my certification. I have a breadth of experience working with Protestant ministers and collaborating with them to achieve the goals of hospital pastoral care and chaplaincy. These ministers run the spectrum from the liberal to the conservative.

Education/Credentials
Bachelors of Science-- University of Scranton PA Masters of Arts Theology--- Saint Mary's Seminary and University Baltimore MD Masters of Divinity--- Saint Charles Borremeo Seminary Philadelphia PA Board Certified Chaplain (up for renewal)

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