Examples and Folly of Vanity

August 16, 2021 • 2 min

From Introduction to the Devout Life, page 103
By St. Francis de Sales

"Borrow empty vessels not a few,” said Eliseus to the poor widow, “and pour oil into them.” (4 Kings, iv. 3)

To receive the grace of God into our hearts they must be emptied of vain-glory.

As the castrel, a bird of the hawk kind, by crying and looking on the birds of prey, affrights them by a secret property peculiar to herself, which makes the dove love her above all other birds, and live in security with her, so humility repels Satan, and preserves the graces and gifts of the Holy Ghost within us; and therefore all the saints, but particularly the King of Saints and his Mother, have always honoured and cherished this blessed virtue more than any other moral virtue.

We call that glory vain which we assume to ourselves, either for what is not in us, or for what is in us, but does not deserve that we should glory in it.

The nobility of our ancestors, the favour of great men, and popular honour, are things not in us, but either in our progenitors, or in the esteem of other men.

Some become proud or insolent on account of riding a good horse, wearing a feather in their hat, or being dressed in a fine suit of clothes. But who does not see the folly of this? for if there be any glory in such things, the glory belongs to the horse, the bird, and the tailor; and what meanness of heart it must be to borrow esteem from a horse, from a feather, or some ridiculous new fashion?

Others value themselves on account of a well-trimmed beard, curled locks, soft hands; or because they can dance, sing, or play; but are not these effeminate men, who seek to raise their reputation by such frivolous and foolish things?

Others, on account of a little learning, would be honoured and respected by the whole world, as if everyone ought to become their pupils, and account them their masters. Such persons are, therefore; called pedants.

Others strut like peacocks, contemplating their beauty, and think themselves admired by everyone. All this is extremely superficial, foolish, and impertinent; and the glory which is raised on such weak foundations is justly esteemed vain and frivolous.

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