Within every single person, vainglory finds a
suitable substrate upon which it forms and thrives.
The various favorable hereditary and acquired
traits that man possesses serve as substrates and nourishment for vainglory.
People desire to be complimented for their good looks, for their good judgment, and for their keen
intelligence. People go to great lengths in order to be recognized by others for their popularity, their wealth, and their status. People yearn and diligently seek to be acknowledged as a teacher, a scholar, and an artist. People desire and do
everything in their power to be known as
righteous, prudent, upright, and virtuous.
But does vainglory perhaps flee from man when it does not find within him such substrates and sources of nourishment? Does it perhaps depart when man happens to be void of all the aforementioned positive attributes? No! Even in
such cases, vainglory strikes the imagination and renders man a senseless fool.
People who are unattractive want to look attractive and be considered beautiful; they who are
insignificant, despite their inferiority, want to appear wealthy and distinguished; they who are unlearned still want to be viewed as wise and
educated; they who are full of sins nonetheless
desire to be regarded as righteous and holy.
Vainglory has such tremendous power!
Moreover, this passion is extremely deceptive and underhanded, and it apprehends us almost imperceptibly.
When, for example, a chanter happens to be singing or reading alone in church, then he is
battled by sleep, he can barely project his voice,
he has difficulty annunciating the words, and he
has no desire in his soul for prayer.
If, however, he turns his eyes and notices that
parishioners have come and are filling the church,
immediately sleep vanishes, his voice suddenly becomes loud and melodious, he pronounces
the words clearly, he is filled with great zeal and strength; in one word, he becomes a different person.
What has caused this speedy change?
If you suggest that this change has resulted “from the Right Hand of the Most-High”(Ps. 76:11),
you are mistaken. On the contrary, this is a change
that came about from the right hand of Satan, who imperceptibly waters man with the water of vainglory. This water physically invigorates a person and makes him spring up like a green plant, but simultaneously rots and dissolves the grace of
The same thing applies to every other good work as well. When I hear others speaking about my
valor, or praising my virtue and accomplishments, then I become overjoyed and motivated. When, however, no one compliments me, or speaks well
about me, or acknowledges my efforts, then I become gloomy, slothful, and listless. This is
in fact the spirit of vainglory that is conquering my heart. Unfortunately, I the wretched one remain insensitive and completely oblivious
to all this.
Bishop Nikiforos Theotokis