Tag Archives: Father Juan José Gallego

Sunday Devotional: Whoever wishes to come after me must deny yourself

Mark 8:27-35

Jesus and his disciples set out
for the villages of Caesarea Philippi.
Along the way he asked his disciples,
“Who do people say that I am?”
They said in reply,
“John the Baptist, others Elijah,
still others one of the prophets.”
And he asked them,
“But who do you say that I am?”
Peter said to him in reply,
“You are the Christ.”
Then he warned them not to tell anyone about him.

He began to teach them
that the Son of Man must suffer greatly
and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes,
and be killed, and rise after three days.
He spoke this openly.
Then Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him.
At this he turned around and, looking at his disciples,
rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind me, Satan.
You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do.”

He summoned the crowd with his disciples and said to them,
Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself,
take up his cross, and follow me.
For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it,
but whoever loses his life for my sake
and that of the gospel will save it.”

“Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself”.

The above reading from Mark 8 wasn’t the only time when Jesus warned us about narcissism — the excessive love of self that expresses itself as selfishness, self-preoccupation, entitlement, and pride. In Mark 9:33-35, too, chastising the Apostles who were arguing who among them was the greatest, our Lord said in no uncertain terms:

“If anyone wishes to be first, he shall be the last of all and the servant of all.”

The late author Christopher Lasch, in The Culture of Narcissism: American Life in An Age of Diminishing Expectations, maintained that narcissism is the disorder of our time. Indeed, the decade of the 1990s is given the sobriquet of the “Me Decade.”

Some are of the opinion that contemporary Western culture itself is narcissistic:

  • Psychiatrist Richard Fitzgibbons observed that the “predominant character weakness in our culture is that of selfishness”.
  • James F. Masterson, M.D., described American society as “signifying the virtual apotheosis of the interested self.”
  • Psychiatrist Alexander Lowen, in Narcissism: Denial of the True Self, said that in his forty years as a therapist, he (and others in the psychological profession ) had seen a marked change in the personality problems of those who came to him for consultation. Instead of the neurotic guilts, anxieties, phobias, and obsessions of earlier times, Lowen increasingly encountered narcissistic individuals saddled with depression, a lack of feeling, an inner emptiness, and a deep sense of frustration and unfulfillment.

Narcissism being “the disorder of our time” is due in no small measure to the increasing secularization, irreligiosity, and outright satanism of contemporary culture. As Fr. Juan José Gallego, the exorcist for the archdiocese of Barcelona, Spain, explains, the Devil’s favorite sin is pride.

See “Satanism as a new political movement in America” and “Satanism is now a cool thing in California, esp. Hollywood“.

C.S. Lewis, too, called pride “the great sin” and wrote that “it was through Pride that the devil became the devil: Pride leads to every other vice: it is the complete anti-God state of mind.”

Like all narcissists, Lucifer’s choice to love himself more than God only condemns himself to misery. As poet John Milton so perfectly captured the fallen angel’s eternal misery in Paradise Lost:

Which way I fly is Hell; myself am Hell.

And what’s the antidote to narcissism?

Once again, Jesus had already given us the answer:

To love God with our whole heart, our whole mind, our whole soul, and with all our strength.

May the peace and love of our beloved Lord Jesus Christ be with you this glorious Sunday,

~Eowyn

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Sunday Devotional: Narcissism, the first and greatest sin

James 3:16

Where jealousy and selfish ambition exist,
there is disorder and every foul practice….

Mark 9:30, 33-35

Jesus and his disciples…came to Capernaum
and, once inside the house,
he began to ask them,
“What were you arguing about on the way?”
But they remained silent.
They had been discussing among themselves on the way
who was the greatest.
Then he sat down, called the Twelve, and said to them,
“If anyone wishes to be first,
he shall be the last of all and the servant of all.”

The above two Scripture readings are both warnings about Narcissism, the excessive love of self that expresses itself as selfishness, self-preoccupation, entitlement, and pride. The latter is “an excessively high opinion of oneself; conceit; arrogance” and as such, is rooted in an excessive love-of-self, which is narcissism.

Indeed, in a recent interview, Father Juan José Gallego, the exorcist for the archdiocese of Barcelona, Spain, says the Devil’s favorite sin is pride. C.S. Lewis, too, called pride “the great sin” and wrote that “it was through Pride that the devil became the devil: Pride leads to every other vice: it is the complete anti-God state of mind.”

In Sin of the Angel, Thomistic philosopher Jacques Maritain more fully described what happened.

According to Maritain, the instant after an Angel is created, he must choose either to love God more than himself, or he refuses the grace with which he initially was gifted and elects to love his own self more. In the case of Lucifer, the second choice was made. By “a disordered act of the will—knowing that he does evil and willing evil”—Lucifer falls in love with himself, despite knowing full well God is infinitely greater than all created beings, such that every similarity he may have with God “fades before the dissimilarity.” Furthermore, Lucifer also perfectly understands that he must love God above all, a love that requires him to submit his will at “whatever sacrifice it may impose on a creature’s nature.”

Despite knowing all that, Lucifer still selects to love “without measure” his own grandeur and, in so doing, effectively elevates himself to be “like God.”

The sin of narcissism of Lucifer, therefore, was the very first sin. It was also the sin of our first parents.

After God created the first man and woman, Genesis recounts, they were settled in “a garden eastward in Eden,” an earthly paradise that amply provided for their needs, being lush with “every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food.” Our first parents were told they were free to eat from any of the trees save one, the tree of knowledge of good and bad. But God counseled them in no uncertain terms that if they were to disobey his command, they “shalt surely die.”

But the Devil appeared in the form of a serpent and said to Eve, “You certainly will not die! No, God knows well that the moment you eat of it your eyes will be opened and you will be like gods who know what is good and what is bad.”

The sin of Adam and Eve was thus more one of pride than of simple disobedience. Imagine the overweening conceit that could prompt creatures to breach the explicit command of their Creator—that inconceivably awesome being who made the universe, who is the uncaused cause, the alpha and the omega, omniscient, omnipotent, infinite, with no beginning and no end.
James 3:16 warns that “Where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every foul practice,” as seen in the consequences of Lucifer’s and our first parents’ sins.

We are familiar with the consequences of Adam and Eve’s Fall. In the case of Lucifer, Maritain observed that when the seraphim commits his first sin, “his interior order would have been shattered.” Henceforth, “he has no rule other than himself; and an endless proliferation of all sorts of other sins would have followed thereafter.” Truly, as Ecclesiasticus 10:13 records, “pride is the beginning of sin.”

And so, from his first sin of grandiose narcissism, other sins rapidly followed: pride, deception, envy, contempt, and eventual rebellion. Coveting God’s powers and perquisites, Lucifer is consumed with jealousy because, notwithstanding his own magnificence, he knows how little he is in comparison with his Creator. Towards the remaining angels who freely choose fidelity to their Creator, Lucifer has only disdain, holding himself to be “better than the other Angels, whose obedience he contemns.” And so Lucifer rebels. For as Milton explained in Paradise Lost, “To reign is worth ambition though in Hell: Better to reign in Hell, than serve in Heav’n.”

Both Maritain and Thomas Aquinas emphasized that in choosing evil “in full light,” Lucifer reveals to us the frightening and infinite power of free will. Having elected evil with complete knowledge, the seraphim has no excuse for his disobedience and accordingly is denied redemption. Nor does he ask for forgiveness: Having made his choice, he harbors no regrets. As Maritain put it, once the angel loses his innocence, “he does nothing but sin” and, in so doing, “freely fixes himself in evil.”

But like all narcissists, Lucifer’s choice to love himself more than God condemns himself to misery. As Milton so perfectly captured it: Which way I fly is Hell; myself am Hell.”

And what’s the antidote to narcissism?

The antidote is the Greatest Commandment of all:

To love God with our whole heart, our whole mind, our whole soul, and with all our strength.

For this is how much He loves us, wretched little beings that we are:

May the peace and love of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you!

~Éowyn

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