The desire for glory when glory is due to God alone, hence vain (empty) glory.

St. Thomas’ three ways glory can be vain

  1. the things for which one seeks glory are vain or petty – WRONG THINGS
  2. the persons from whom one seeks glory are uncertain or lacking in judgment – WRONG PEOPLE
  3. the end for which glory is sought is not to magnify God – WRONG REASONS

It is requisite for man’s perfection that he should know himself; but not that he should be known by others. Vainglory is stated to be a dangerous sin, not only on account of its gravity, but also because it is a disposition to grave sins, in so far as it renders man presumptuous and too self-confident.

Just as by the glory which is in God’s sight man acquires honor in Divine things, so too by the glory which is in the sight of man he acquires excellence in human things. Hence on account of its close connection with excellence, which men desire above all, it follows that it is most desirable.


  • “Let nothing be done through contention, neither by vainglory.” Philippians 2:3
  • “Vanity of vanities, all is vanity.” Ecclesiastes 1:1
  • “Vainglory is the glory that we give ourselves; either for what is not really in us, or for what is in fact in us but not owing to anything we did, or for what is in us and owning to us but which does not deserve to be the cause of a boast.” St. Francis de Sales


  • disobedience: a man refuses to carry out the command of his superiors
  • boastfulness: speaking in such a way as to obtain more glory
  • hypocrisy: manifesting one’s own excellence through falsehoods
  • contention: a man quarrels noisily with another; always have to have it/do it my way
  • obstinacy: intellectual pride, unable to be seen as less than excellent in intellectual areas, a man is too much attached to his own opinion; failing to yield a point well made but not mine?
  • discord: a man is unwilling to give up his own will and agree with others; always against things, never for anything
  • love of novelties: glorifying man’s deeds when they are truly excellent

Self-examination from Episcopalian St. Augustine Prayer book (not exactly Thomistic, but useful)

PRIDE: Pride is putting self in the place of God as the center and objective of our life. It is the refusal to recognize our status as creatures, dependent on God for our existence, and placed by him in a specific relationship to the rest of his creation.


  • Deliberate neglect of the worship of God every Sunday in his Church, or contentment with a perfunctory participation in it.
  • Failure to thank God or to express our gratitude adequately. 
  • Disrespect for God or holy things by deliberately treating the, in thought, word, or deed, in a profane, contemptuous or over-familiar manner, or the attempt to bribe or placate God by religious practices or promises.


  • Dependence on self rather than God, with the consequent neglect of the means of grace – sacraments and prayer. 
  • Dispensation of ourselves from ordinary duties on the grounds that we are superior persons. 
  • Satisfaction or complacency over our spiritual achievements. 
  • Unwillingness to surrender to and abide in Christ, to let him act in and through us. 
  • Failure to offer to God regularly in intercession the persons or causes that have, or should enlist our interest and support.


  • Refusal to recognize God’s wisdom, providence and love. Worry, anxiety, misgivings, scrupulosity, or perfectionism. 
  • Attempts to discern or control the future by spiritualism, astrology, fortune-telling or the like. 
  • Over-sensitiveness: expectation that others will dislike, reject or mistreat us; over-readiness so to interpret their attitude, or quickness to take offense, or unfounded suspicions. 
  • Timidity in accepting responsibility, or cowardice in facing difficulty or suffering. 
  • Surrender to feelings of depression, gloom, pessimism, discouragement, self-pity, or fear of death, instead of fighting to be brave, cheerful and hopeful.


  • Rejection of God’s known will in favor of our own interests or pleasures. 
  • Disobedience of the legitimate laws, regulations or authority of the Church, state, etc., or slow and reluctant obedience. 
  • Failure when in authority to fulfil responsibilities or to consider the best interest of those under us. 
  • Refusal to learn God’s nature or will as revealed in Scripture, expounded in instructions or expert advice, or discernible through prayer, meditation or the reading of religious books. 


  • Refusal to search out and face up to our sins, or to confess and admit them before God. 
  • Disregard of our sins or pretense that we are better than we are. 
  • Self-justification or discounting our sins as insignificant, natural or inevitable. 
  • Self-righteous comparison of ourselves with others. 
  • Refusal to accept just punishment or to make due reparation when possible. 
  • Deceit or lying to escape the consequences of our sins, or allowing another to suffer the blame for our faults. 
  • Shame (hurt pride), sorrow for ourselves because our sins make us less respectable than we like to think we are, or because we fear punishment or injury to our reputation, rather than sorrow for what sin is in the eyes of God. 
  • Refusal to admit we were in the wrong or to apologize, or refusal to accept forgiveness from God or others. 
  • Unwillingness to forgive ourselves.


  • Crediting to ourselves rather than to God our talents, abilities, insights, accomplishments, good works. 
  • Refusal to admit indebtedness to others, or adequately to express gratitude for their help. 
  • Hypocrisy, pretense to virtues we do not possess, or false humility. 
  • Harsh judgments on others for faults we excuse in ourselves. 
  • Boasting, exaggeration, drawing attention to ourselves by talking too much, by claiming ability, wisdom, experience or influence we do not have.
  • Seeking, desiring or relishing flattery or compliments.


  • Insisting that others conform to our wishes, recognize our leadership, accept our own estimate of our worth. 
  • Being overbearing, argumentative, opinionated, obstinate.


  • Pride over race, family, position, personality, education, skill, achievements, or possessions.

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