Vainglory is taking credit for good actions.
Vainglory is doing the right thing for the wrong reason. John Cassian
tells us it is very difficult to detect our vanity since we are generally under a cloud of self-delusion. Vainglory is a secondary
thought. It is not about what I am doing but about what I think when I do something.
"Vain" refers to nothingness,
illusion, and emptiness. Usually people who are afflicted by vainglory actually perceive themselves through what others think
of them. It is often difficult for spiritual directors to detect vainglory. Often people afflicted with vainglory become leaders.
Unfortunately this causes self-delusion to abound with them and their followers.
Vainglory is the opposite of dejection.
Vainglory and dejection are the reverse sides of the same coin. If someone places themselves ahead of others, they eventually
lose any sense of discrimination. They can no longer distinguish the grace of God from their own efforts. Vainglory replaces
God with the self as the object of worship. It is impossible to exaggerate the importance of "glory" in antiquity. Some would
say that Glory is the experience of God's presence. For Glory to communicate itself we need to have a sense of adoration and
reverence. Vainglory takes what is God’s, which is Glory.
Often it is a person who has practiced virtue for a
long time that has the "thought" of vainglory. It tells the virtuous person to start to attribute the good life to them and
not to God. Vainglory is doing the right things for the wrong reason and it is also an end stage. Cassian says to combat vainglory it is good that someone talk to an experienced elder about their thoughts
so that the beginning thoughts of vainglory do not take a foothold. Watchfulness of thoughts is crucial so that the thoughts
can be edited, redirected or changed. Prayer is an obstacle to thoughts of vainglory.
Thoughts are neither good nor
bad; they just are. Elation and dejection can make things seem good that are not good. To rise and fall emotionally on what
we perceive as good or bad is vain. We combat vainglory by giving glory to God and being grateful for everything. It is essential
that we stay vigilant and pray.
"Watch and pray." (Matthew 26:41)