Consider first, that the vice of vainglory is nearly allied to that of pride, and has for its object an imaginary excellence in the way of glory that is in the way of being known and talked of, praised and esteemed by others. See here, my soul, a dangerous vice, not only with regard to the children of the world, whose thoughts, words, and actions are generally influenced by the love of praise, honour, and esteem, or by the fear of what the world will say or think of them; but even with regard to the children of God, who are daily and hourly exposed to its temptations in the very best of their actions, and of their being quite vitiated and corrupted by this plague. This was the vice of the Scribes and Pharisees, who did all their works that they might be honoured and esteemed by men, and therefore their alms, their fasting, their prayers, and other good works availed them nothing in the sight of God, because vainglory corrupted them all, and at the very time that they were esteemed as saints by the world, made them like devils in the eyes of God. Christians, beware of this pernicious evil; watch and pray continually against it.
Consider 2ndly, that vainglory, which is always dangerous, amounts to the guilt of a mortal sin whenever the affection of the heart is so far set upon human applause, praise, or esteem, as to love it as much. or more than God: or, as St. Thomas of Aquin expresses it, when a person directs his attention in such manner to the glory of man as to make it his last end, to which he refers even the works of virtue, and for the sake of which he does not hesitate to offend his God. In like manner, it is a mortal sin when a person seeks vainglory by committing mortal sin; for example, by swearing, quarrelling, taking revenge, & c., to show his courage or to gain the esteem of being a man of honour, or for fear of being blamed or despised by the world. As also when any person, for the sake of maintaining his esteem, or for fear of being thought less skillful or less knowing, refuses to seek or admit of the assistance or counsel of others; and thus exposes himself to the danger of occasioning some considerable detriment, corporal or spiritual, to himself or to others. In fine, vainglory is a mortal sin whenever a man glories in the gifts and graces of God as if they were his own, and as if he had not received them from God. See, my soul, how many ways this love of worldly honour, glory, and praise which modern worldlings, like the ancient pagans, take for a virtue, is condemned by sound Christian morality as a capital vice, which sends innumerable souls to hell.
Consider 3rdly, the malignity of this vice of vainglory from its being the fruitful parent of a numerous offspring of other pernicious evils, oftentimes worse that itself. St. Gregory reckons up seven daughters of this unhappy mother. 1. Disobedience, which despises the ordinances of lawful superiors for the love of one’s own worldly honour and esteem. 2. Boasting, that is vaunting or glorifying of one’s self, of one’s own talent or performances, and ever loving to be talking of one’s self, a vice as odious and ridiculous as it is common in the conversation of the proud and vainglorious. 3. Hypocrisy, or making a show of godliness or sanctity to gain the esteem of men. 4. Contention or strife, that is, wrangling, brawling, and quarrelling in words, to maintain one’s own opinion, right or wrong, or to defend what one has said or done. 5. Obstinacy in adhering to error rather than to acknowledge one’s self to have been deceived, or to seem to yield or to be overcome. 6. Discord, or disagreement of wills and hearts, by occasion of different pretensions and contest for honour and esteem. 7. Invention of novelties in the way of new opinions, new fashions, or rather innovations, brought in to make one’s self a name or to procure esteem or applause. See, Christians, what a train of evils are daily produced by vainglory. And what are all heresies and schisms but a compound of these same evils, and consequently the productions also of vainglory?
Conclude to keep a strict guard against this dangerous enemy of the soul as it will rob thee of all good and fill thee with all evil. Daily pray with the royal prophet, ‘Turn away my eyes, O Lord, that they look not upon vanity;’ and as often as in thy words or actions thou findest thyself attacked with the suggestions of this vice say with the same prophet, ‘not to us, O Lord, not to us, but to thy name give glory.’