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The Pope Speaks on ENVY AND VAINGLORY

(TAKEN FROM THE HOLY FATHER’S CATECHESIS ON VICES AND VIRTUES AT THE WEDNESDAY GENERAL AUDIENCE, STARTING IN DECEMBER, 2023.)

We now turn to envy and vainglory. Envy, already present in the story of Cain and Abel, is a destructive force fuelled by resentment towards others, and can lead to deadly hatred. We would like to impose our own selfish logic on God; instead, the logic of God is love. The good things he gives us are meant to be shared. This is why Saint Paul exhorts Christians, “Love one another with brotherly affection; outdo one another in showing honor” (Rm 12:10). Here is the remedy for envy!

Vainglory is marked by an inflated self-esteem, a craving for constant praise and frequently prone to using other people for one’s own ends. It goes hand-in-hand with the demon of envy, and together these two vices are characteristic of a person who aspires to be the center of the world, free to exploit everything and everyone, the object of all praise and love. They have no empathy and take no notice of the fact that there are other people in the world besides them. Their relationships are always a means to an end, characterized by dominating the other. To heal the vainglorious, spiritual teachers do not suggest many remedies. For in the end, the evil of vanity has its remedy in itself: the praise the vainglorious person hoped to reap from the world will soon turn against him or her.

Saint Paul’s example of boasting of his weakness rather than achievements offers an effective way for overcoming vainglory. May we, like him, know that God’s grace is sufficient, since his power is made perfect in weakness, and all the more gladly boast of our weaknesses, that the power of Christ may set us free for a more generous love of others.