by Boudreaux, Florentin, 1821-1894
Angels of heaven, pride ruined the fair creation of earth. Man had been exceedingly favored by his Maker ; his nature had been adorned with marvellous gifts and enriched with surpassing grace. His place was at the head of the visible creation ; he was born the king of the earth and the lord of all its wealth. He stood in Paradise, a noble work of God’s wisdom and power, the favored child of heaven, the destined heir to the vacant thrones in God’s heavenly kingdom. He was happy in his immortal life and imperishable vigor; blessed a thousandfold in the world of beauty and wealth, which was spread out before him ; but infinitely more blessed in the assured hope of what was awaiting him hereafter. But the suggestion came from the envy of the fallen angel, that a more elevated position might be attained in despite of God; honors were within reach which the Sovereign Creator had denied to man. “Break the commandment of God ; rebel against His yoke ; eat the fruit which He has forbidden you to touch; and your eyes shall be opened and ye shall be as God.” (Gen. iii.)
And, oh ! how eagerly the bait was snatched ! How willingly was Lucifer obeyed in the hope of ascending higher, of becoming wiser, more powerful, happier than God had willed us to be ! Pride was the beginning of all sin. Pride is the deep wound inflicted on our nature by Lucifer. Pride is the inheritance which Adam left to his unfortunate children. The inordinate desire of excellence, of distinction, of praise and glory, such is the ruling passion of our nature. “ Excelsior ” is the motto, the watchword of fallen, but not humbled, man. To rise higher and higher still, is the one grand struggle of man’s life. We started in rebellion against God at the very dawn of our existence, and our whole history has been but a long series of proud rebellions against Him, against His law, against all authority derived from Him. And, yet, “ what hath our pride profited us, or what advantage hath our boasting brought us?” ( Wis . v.)
Like unfledged birds, foolishly leaping from the nest before they can support themselves on the air, we have fallen into an abyss of degradation. We are the mere wrecks of what God had made us. We have not a single gift or excellence or merit, which might serve as a pretext for our self-glorification. We are “ wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked.” ( Apoc . iii.)
Deep and deadly are the wounds we bear in our nature : blindness in our intellect, concupiscence in our will, decay and death in our body. And though we are thus fallen and degraded, shorn of our glory and robbed of every supernatural good, yet, this has not opened our eyes to acknowledge our ruin ; it has not sufficed to make us humble, to break our rebellious spirit and subject it to the punishment which it has deserved. Such, then, is the ruin which the love of the Sacred Heart of Jesus undertakes to restore ; such the wound which it proposes to heal. As pride had been the origin of all sin, so must humility l*e the beginning of all grace. As pride had banished us from Paradise, humility must admit us again within its blissful precincts.