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False Piety (2)

A wise man once said: "you can always recognize a hollywood actor in a crowd, he is the one who has nothing to say when people stop talking about him". This is also a fairly good description of our second type of false piety. This is what I like to call the "super humbles" ("SH"). These are (not surprisingly) often the most prideful people you will ever meet. It is their habit to make sure that they constantly are pointing out how holy they are. They too have a difficult time when others are not talking about them.

An SH, as mentioned above, is actually a very prideful person -- which means that you can spot them easily by just recognizing how proud they are about their humility. The point should be obvious. Those who have fallen into this practice have found a way to continue to focus on themselves and make others think that they are focusing on holiness. Even if we are pursuing perfect holiness, we should be doing it for the right reasons.

It is very different for someone to say, "I am not worthy" to receive something, and another to say it in such a manner as to prompt others to be impressed with you. They will also often mention their own failings; not as an aspect of true humility where someone knows their own weakness. The SH will never mention a sin that is something serious, but it will always be merely something mild that everyone is subject to ("I am not worthy of God's grace" or "I am so bad at praying enough").

The most obvious way that one can recognize an SH is because they usually do not mention an actual sin that they committed ("I lied", "I failed to attend Mass on Sunday"). They will, instead, focus on portraying a proper attitude toward sin, while never actually confirming that they have sinned ("I really need to work harder at being kind" or "I need devote myself more fully to daily fasting"). We all know that we need to be more holy, but the SH says this so that others will think that he already is more holy because of how much desire he has for holiness.

Of course, to make certain that the attention is drawn to themselves, the SH will seek ways to express disapproval of anything that runs against their behavior. This is especially seen in the way that an SH will speak about those who truly are devout. They may not directly attack someone with genuine devotion to the Lord, but they will be quick to express disapproval of them in some manner. We all speak against that which we consider to be unworthy or unholy. For the Sh, though, this is a necessity in spite of the fact that true devotion is usually recognized by all.


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