The Proud man literally does not understand who God is

by Br. Alexis Bugnolo

Saint Augustine, in his book, On the Creed, in his sermon To Cathecumens, ch. 1, n. 2, comments on a truth which if we do not understand, we cannot be saved.

This truth regards God’s own limitation.

That God have limitations seems a self-contradiction.  But this contradiction only appears in a mind which knows not God or does not understand in what divinity consists.

For the Muslim, God can do anything, even deceive.

But for the Christian, our God is essentially different.

And this difference is seen in a limitation, which is actually the hallmark of true divinity.  A limitation which Lucifer did not comprehend, and which Saint Michael and the Holy Angels ever contemplate.

As St. Augustine says, in the above referenced passage: “This alone God cannot do: what He does not will do do”. Or as Peter Lombard explains in his First Book Sentences, Distinction 43: “But that must be understood thus: ‘this alone God cannot do: what He does not want, namely, Himself to be able to do”.

Amazingly, God is limited. He limits Himself. He constrains His own Will. He cannot do all things, because He wills not to do all things.

Another way of understanding this is that God, the true God, is infinite GOODNESS, TRUTH, UNITY, BEAUTY.  And as such, God’s Power is only to accomplish those things which are in accord with His own Nature, and thus He never does what contradicts Himself.

And this high truth is the key to immortality.

Because we cannot be saved unless we live according to God’s laws. For He promises salvation only to the believer in Christ, the obedient to the Holy Spirit, the faithful in all things.

And this is not an exterior rule for us alone. It is the same rule for God. For we cannot attain to live with God forever, if we refuse to live with God in time. And to live with God means to live according to the rule which He has placed about Himself: never to will to do what He does not will to God.

All sin, thus, begins with prevarication.  Prevarication occurs when we transgress God’s will. We go against it. We break His laws. We sin.

This spirit which leads us to act thus, is pride. The most difficult of all vices to uproot because it lacks most of all an appearance, being totally negative and formless.

Pride causes us to shut the eyes of our mind to the existence of God’s laws, to open our heart to the desire to do what we will, regardless of what God wills. Pride gives license to sin in darkness, in denial and in a deliberate ignoring of the truth.

And thus pride blinds.

And in blinding it separates us from God Who is the guiding Light of all rational creatures.

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Let us uproot pride, then, by being mindful of God: by praying habitually, keeping mindful of His laws, and by fearing more than all else that power which we have, to turn away from God and pretend He does not exist.

There is no eternal life for the proud, because since eternal life only exist with God and in God, those who chose to live according to the pretense that He does not exist, or would will what He does not will, are in death rewarded to meet the god which they imitated in live.

And such a god is not the true God, nor is such a place Heaven.


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One thought on “The Proud man literally does not understand who God is”

  1. Both in ancient pagan cultures and medieval Christian allegory, the peacock was a symbol of the “shrieking demons of pride” in their “poisonous grove” of vainglory and delusions of matchless, permanent superiority. For Golden Age Greek humanists, tragedy was the natural, logical result of “Hubris” (blind pride) which the gods inevitably punish with disaster. Pride (the trait of merciless, self-worshipping tyrants who see people as property, objects, tools of power) was personified by the Roman Empire. Megalomaniac Nero, for example, burnt down Rome, then condemned Christians for the crime and “justified” what was to be three centuries of their persecution as “haters” and “enemies of the State.” The Flavians built the Colosseum, a House of Death dedicated to Roman pride, and replicated everywhere around the Empire. Roman rulers mastered the art of keeping power. Keeping the populace numb and dumb was the bottom line. All public access to shows, games, races, snacks and drinks, and the unending variety of massacres, was free. The wider and deeper the footprints of the Roman boot on three Continents, the more numerous and cruel were the forms of “entertainment.”
    In Dante’s Inferno, “the Proud,” the tyrants who worshipped power, the heartless, cold-blooded traitors to country, the betrayers of God, sit encased in the ice of their tears, forever frozen by Satan’s fanning (peacock) wings in the lowest circle of hell.

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