Aquinas’ Answer

News: Commentary
by Paul Brock III  •  •  May 17, 2022   

Getting rid of pride

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The fundamental defect hindering us from becoming more fully human is pride. Thus, only when pride is diminished can man allow himself to truly grow spiritually.

Pride is one of the chief vices, and it's understood by many to be the chief vice. Nonetheless, because vices destroy specific virtues, one must practice the opposing virtue in order to effectively counter the specific vice. But many choose not to conquer their bad habits, and, as a result, "evil men and seducers shall grow worse and worse" (1 Timothy 3:13). Conversely, for those who choose the virtuous life, "the Lord hears and delivers them out of all their troubles" (Psalm 34:17).

St. Thomas Aquinas

Saint Thomas Aquinas teaches that "pride does not corrupt every virtue, but only humility [conquers pride]" (ST, II–II, q. 162, a. 2). So in order to diminish pride, the answer is to practice humility. 

Humility expels pride, Aquinas teaches, and is "said to be the foundation of the spiritual edifice ... first among virtues ... [and] the first step towards God" (ST, II, q. 161, a. 5).

Aquinas also tells us that where the pride, self-love and ego elevates the creature above the Creator, humility "properly regards the reverence whereby man is subject to God" (ST, II, q. 161, a. 3).

Although today's culture attempts to make God subject to man, there is a natural and human inclination that reveals this not to be the case. From the alcoholic atheist to the daily-Mass-going Catholic, placing self over the Almighty is always illogical.

The difference between the two is that reality will be unclear, and even blinding, for the alcoholic atheist who is tangled up in the culture.

In order to diminish pride, the answer is to practice humility. 

This blinding effect that sin and vice hold on man is spelled out, once again, by Aquinas, who says, "Since man has from nature an inclination to virtue ... from the very fact that a man sins there results a diminution of that good of nature ... [but] even in the lost the natural inclination to virtue remains" (ST, I-II, q. 85, a. 1-2).

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Instead of recognizing the painful, enslaving and distressful effects of acting against one's own nature, the mental health system doesn't even acknowledge the true nature of man, and so it renders itself incapable of providing the very thing it claims to offer, which is human well being.

Well being, according to the American Psychological Association, consists in having an "overall good physical and mental health outlook." But what is mental health? The APA defines it as "a state of mind characterized by emotional well being ... and a capacity to establish constructive relationships and cope with the ordinary demands and stresses of life."

So while traditional morality has always equated well being with virtue, modern psychology equates it with merely feeling good. Moreover, this godless system also equates human well being with coping, that is, getting rid of stress in whatever way possible.

The mental health system cannot see objective right and wrong.

Because there is no recognition of the soul with the mental health system, getting rid of stress always consists in some sort of temporal "fix." But when the soul is ignored, so too is the afterlife.

Fixated only on this world, the mental health system cannot see objective right and wrong. The mental health industry is fixated only on increasing the ego, which is what drives the industry's worldly agenda.

The Crucifixion

In order to decrease the ego, humility is needed, and this is what opens one up to human perfection (the goal of life).

This humility is embodied by God Himself through the Incarnation. Although infinitely superior to man, God lowered Himself down to man. And not only did He bring Himself down to man, but He hid His divinity and actually subjected Himself to man — all for the good of man. This willful subjection hit its peak at Calvary, where God's humility and love redeemed the sins of mankind.

As God Himself willingly lowered Himself for man, so too must man humbly lower himself. Christ was not only condemned by the men He was trying to save, He embraced His condemnation and suffered it well. So too must man accept the humiliations of life for God's greater glory.

Go Premium and watch the fifth episode of Church Militant's brand new series Mental Health: Catholic Perspective to learn more.


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