Historical setting: 584 C.E. Ligugè
Brother August explains, “Brother Joel gave so much guidance to take me through a sin which to others might have been considered personal pride. I’d so easily learned the spiritual moments of true prayer as art in carving stone. But Brother Joel noticed my tethers of pride were to be found, not in the sales, but in the presentation I made of my art to others whom I wished to have in my circle of love.”
“And pride is sin?” I ask, inviting a nuance I’ve considered for centuries.
“Of course. Everyone knows it is sin. Paul said so. And Rule #57 of Benedict saw the pride in the pricing of the art because throughout The Rule the measure is always based on how something is observed by the earthly witness who would be the abbot or the bishop. So a monetary price on something in a symbolic way defines worth, but The Rule doesn’t really address the bond between Creator God and creative artist. And placing a value in coin was nothing about my issue with pride.”
I affirm, “I’ve read enough of The Rule to notice it has so much more to say about the opinions, judgments and punishments of earthly observers than it has to say about the ever-present love of God. So I would assume the rule would speak only in observable symbols of pride, such as wealth, rather than a deep in the heart kind of pride or humility.”
August affirms, “Yes, I wanted to use my art to gain the appreciation by others, though not in the form of money. In fact, my need for this affirmation from others was beyond even my human-to-God prayer. It was something that stroked and tantalized my sense of pride, as much as any kind of lust could do. And Brother Joel pointed out, the problem with nurturing personal pride isn’t the money part or the lusty part; it is, he said, that my pride fitted over me like a coat of armor, shinning my whole form into something others notice, but also keeping me from actually connecting with others in the way of God’s love. Brother Joel noticed it was my pride that separated me from my earthly brothers. I so much wanted them to be amazed by my art, not because I believed myself superior in a prideful way, but because my strong armor of pride was protecting me from humiliation by them. Pride and humility are both the sides of the same coin.”
(Continues Tuesday, August 3)