St John Vianney on Pride

CHAPTER 6: On Pride

Pride is an untrue opinion of ourselves, an untrue idea of what we are not. The proud man is always disparaging himself, that people may praise him the more. The more the proud man lowers himself, the more he seeks to raise his miserable nothingness. He relates what he has done, and what he has not done; he feeds his imagination with what has been said in praise of him, and seeks by all possible means for more; he is never satisfied with praise. See, my children, if you only show some little displeasure against a man given up to self-love, he gets angry, and accuses you of ignorance or injustice towards him…. My children, we are in reality only what we are in the eyes of God, and nothing more. Is it not quite clear and evident that we are nothing, that we can do nothing, that we are very miserable? Can we lose sight of our sins, and cease to humble ourselves?

If we were to consider well what we are, humility would be easy to us, and the demon of pride would no longer have any room in our heart. See, our days are like grass – like the grass which now flourishes in the meadows, and will presently be withered; like an ear of corn which is fresh only for a moment, and is parched by the sun. In fact, my children, today we are full of life, full of health; and tomorrow, death will perhaps come to reap us and mow us down, as you reap your corn and mow your meadows…. Whatever appears vigorous, whatever shines, whatever is beautiful, is of short duration…. The glory of this world, youth, honors, riches, all pass away quickly, as quickly as the flower of grass, as the flower of the field…. Let us reflect that so we shall one day be reduced to dust; that we shall be thrown into the fire like dry grass, if we do not fear the good God.

Good Christians know this very well, my children; therefore they do not occupy themselves with their body; they despise the affairs of this world; they consider only their soul and how to unite it to God. Can we be proud in the face of the examples of lowliness, of humiliations, that Our Lord has given us, and is still giving us every day? Jesus Christ came upon earth, became incarnate, was born poor, lived in poverty, died on a cross, between two thieves…. He instituted an admirable Sacrament, in which He communicates Himself to us under the Eucharistic veil; and in this Sacrament He undergoes the most extraordinary humiliations. Residing continually in our tabernacles, He is deserted, misunderstood by ungrateful men; and yet He continues to love us, to serve us in the Sacrament of the Altar.

O my children! what an example of humiliation does the good Jesus give us! Behold Him on the Cross to which our sins have fastened Him; behold Him: He calls us, and says to us, “Come to Me, and learn of Me, because I am meek and humble of heart.” How well the saints understood this invitation, my children! Therefore, they all sought humiliations and sufferings. After their example, then, let us not be afraid of being humbled and despised. St. John of God, at the beginning of his conversion, pretended that he was crazy, ran about the streets, and was followed by the populace, who threw stones at him; he always came in covered with mud and with blood. He was shut up as a madman; the most violent remedies were employed to cure him of his pretended illness; and he bore it all in the spirit of penance, and in expiation of his past sins. The good God, my children, does not require of us extraordinary things. He wills that we should be gentle, humble, and modest; then we shall always be pleasing to Him; we shall be like little children; and He will grant us the grace to come to Him and to enjoy the happiness of the saints.

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13 Responses to St John Vianney on Pride

  1. toadspittle says:

    “Is it not quite clear and evident that we are nothing, that we can do nothing, that we are very miserable? “

    Couldn’t be clearer really, could it?


  2. kathleen says:

    I remember learning that all sin, literally every other type of sin, including Original Sin, come from the sin of Pride.
    And I also recall once hearing in a homily that it is a sin little confessed!! No one likes to admit they are full of Pride….. or perhaps we don’t realise we commit such an ugly sin every time we offend God??


  3. toadspittle says:


    Very good point Kathleen. Fortunately for us on CP&S nobody has the slightest thing to feel proud of.
    Certainly not for being Catholics, these days. Very different before Vat 2, of course.

    No disagreement on that, for sure!

    But Toad could never, and still can’t, see how a perfect being could possibly ever be “offended”.

    Even he, who is as imperfect as they come, is almost impossible to offend, so why should God be so more touchy?

    Mysterious ways, no doubt…


  4. 000rjbennett says:

    Of all the good and true things St. John Vianney wrote, this is one of the best and truest: “(I)f you only show some little displeasure against a man given up to self-love, he gets angry, and accuses you of ignorance or injustice towards him….” The entire essay of pride, though, is one of the most insightful that this good saint wrote.

    I read an autobiography of St. John Vianney recently, and finished it thinking what an astonishing man he was. Now, on this website, having read some the things he actually wrote, I realize that his thinking too was gentle, noble, simple and almost childlike at times, but also wonderfully profound.

    Many thanks to the person who is posting these chapters.


  5. golden chersonnese says:

    Mysterious ways, no doubt…

    Dear Toad, could it be that you might profit from a meditation on the 118th Psalm? Like this one, for instance?

    On that Australian note, CPS readers might be interested in these links to the solemn reception yesterday of the Most Reverend Dr Timothy Costelloe SDB as the new Archbishop of Perth of the Antipodes. Perth has enjoyed an ever increasing number of clergy, particularly while the conservative Archbishop Barry Hickey, just retired, was in charge for 21 years. He hands over to Salesian Archbishop Costelloe, 58, who was an auxiliary in the Melbourne Archdiocese.


  6. golden chersonnese says:

    More links for ++ Perth.


  7. toadspittle says:

    Good to know you are not dead, Godlen. Many of us are, looking at the number of responses on here, these days.
    And yes, Toad could surely profit from a meditation on almost anything, psalms included. psalms particularly, in fact.

    Right now he is meditating on whether or not the Tim Costelloe mentioned here, is the same one (or maybe a Grandson?) of Tim who ran the legendaty and eponymous establishment on 44th Street, New York City – for many years. A hang out of hacks, where there were original drawings by Thurber on the walls, and an original Toad clinging to the bar for dear life, during the late 70’s.

    If it was the same “dude,” as you would call him, remind him he makes a wicked Martini.
    Do not have five! (Or, if you do, hail a rickshaw.) Have one of his Hamburgers, though. Tip top!

    You think not? Oh, well.
    God works, etc., in many strange bars, etc.


  8. toadspittle says:


    This is what life is all about!

    If St. John Vianney had been fortunate, or “liberal” enough to have done a bit of painting – or spent some more time writing – for which he had an undoubted flair – he might have arrived at rather less brutal conclusions.

    But then, he may not have.
    Maybe most of us are damned. Why not?


  9. golden chersonnese says:

    whether Tim Costelloe mentioned here, is the same one . . . who ran the legendaty and eponymous establishment on 44th Street, New York City . . . Toad clinging to the bar for dear life, during the late 70′s.?

    Dear Toad, could’er been, but . . .

    Quite a lot of prominent Tim Costelloes about these days, probly.


  10. toadspittle says:

    Indeed, Godlen, Tom Costelloes seem as common as muck nowadays, as Toad’s old Mum was wont to say.

    This specimen looks and sounds, very nice. Bit young for an Archbishop, fears Toad, but no doubt the new office will swiftly age him, what with lesbians, and pedophiles and “gay marriage” (“Do you Bruce, take Bruce to be your awful married wife?”)* and all.

    And, if he has ambitions to be a Cardinal, he will have to put on another three stone, at least.
    We wish the lad all the best.

    Apropos of very little, Toad recall, that, in his youth as a toadpole, the main “hazards” for Bishops and Archbishops with priests were alcoholism and gambling – in the U.K. at least. Something to consider, possibly.



  11. golden chersonnese says:

    Lovely Toad, I’ve heard it said (by a fairly senior Salesian no less) that the vice of the Salesians is precisely to have no appreciable vices. Extraordinary, but we most of us could ponder upon that. As for Dominicans . . . ?

    I fear you are right to a very important extent about Archbishop Timothy Perthensis Antipodalis He is a very fortunate election for the Christofideles of Perth in my humble book. A life as a hacks’ martini/hamburger maker, primary and secondary school Religious Education teacher and director, Salesian religious, Theology professor, spiritual formator of young clerical aspirants, auxiliary bishop in Australia’s largest diocese, chairman of Catholic education within Australia etc. etc. is not all that boring. And as I think you also saw, there is genuine sanctity in this man – the eyes seem to tell it. And I’ve known him for several decades anyway. As I have the lady bloggist at Australia Incognita, whose meditation on the 118th Psalm you felt the benefit of.

    I’m afraid the honour of the Cardinalate belongs to the See of Sydney in Oz, where Cardinal Pell. a mere 71 years of age, remains enfeoffed. Yes, Toad, His Eminence is indeed a stout fellow, but carries it well as he is well over 6 feet tall. A mountain of a man, actually, very imposing and half an Anglican. Archbishop Dr Timothy may remain svelte, as I feel certain he will remain chief shepherd of Australia’s far west mining boom town (where a little further north you can apparently earn 100,000 pounds annually mucking out stables or something).


  12. toadspittle says:


    “(where a little further north you can apparently earn 100,000 pounds annually mucking out stables or something).”

    Toad read Godlen’s words with mixed emotions.He has been in one way or another, “mucking out” dogs, – including having to bath Rosie wearing rubber gloves (Toad, that is, not Rosie) who had rolled in something unspeakable. The rest was mere day-to-day “doggie eggs” in the yard, a solid bucketful. His reward will not be 100,000 pounds p.a. And it will not be in this world.


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