Mandeville, LA – [Editor’s note: On Wednesday, 20 July, 2016, Texas Senator Edward Rafael Cruz addressed the convention that had just nominated Donald Trump and upbraided Trump, refused to endorse him and proclaimed himself the sole “constitutional candidate”. Cruz’s act of prideful ambition is well describe by Padré Gaetano Maria de Bergamo in Humility of Heart. – M.C.] “Ambition is a vice which makes us seek our own honour with inordinate avidity.48 Now, as this honour is a mark of respect and esteem, given to meritorious virtue, and to him who is of superior degree, and as it is certain that we have no merit of ourselves, because everything we receive comes from God, it is not to ourselves, but to God alone that such honour is wholly due.
Moreover, as this honour has been ordained by God as a means to render us capable of helping our neighbour, it is certain that all such honour must be used by us in fulfilment of this end. Two things therefore are needful to enable us to flee from ambition. The first is that we should not appropriate merit of the honour, and the sec- ond is that we should confess that this same honour is due wholly to God, and is only dear to us in so far as it can serve our neighbour. If therefore we are wanting in one of these two things, we commit the sin of ambition.
He is ambitious therefore who seeks to have some office or position, whether in the world or in the Church, when he has not the requisite virtue and knowledge to maintain it, and who schemes and plots to be put before others who are more worthy than he.
He is ambitious who desires to be esteemed, hon- oured and revered more than his position merits, and as if he were of higher rank than he is, to be honoured as an eloquent preacher or as a clever writer, or in any profession to which he may belong, although in reality he can only be classed amongst the indifferent and mediocre.
He is ambitious who, without a single thought for the glory of God, or of serving his neighbour, desires or seeks some worldly or ecclesiastical office, simply with a view to his own temporal welfare and for the advance- ment of his family, or wishes to gain the honour of some high office or bishopric, “from the love of power,” as St Augustine says, “and from pride of place.”49
Jesus Christ shows a special hatred for this vice in several places in His gospel,50 and the Fathers argue from this that the ambitious man is in a state of mortal sin; and it is easy for the most spiritual persons to commit this sin, as St Ambrose says: “Ambition often makes criminals of those whom no vice would delight, whom no lust could move, whom no avarice could deceive.”
The worst of ambition is that few people have any scruples about it, and the reason is that by this vice con- science is depraved, because it is united to this passion and seldom recovers its integrity.” Excerpted from Humility of Heart available in paperback here.