“The sun shines on all alike, and vainglory beams on all activities. For instance, I am vainglorious when I fast; and when I relax the fast in order to be unnoticed, I am again vainglorious over my prudence. When I am well dressed I am quite overcome by vainglory, and when I put on poor clothes I am vainglorious again. When I talk I am defeated, and when I am silent I am again defeated by it. However I throw this prickly pear, a spike stands upright.” St. John Climacus, The Ladder of Divine Ascent, 22,5.
Let us remember during this blessed period of lent that our fasting, our ascetical practices and all that we do are not simply ends in and of themselves. We pursue these things that we might glory in Christ and in the communion with God which we seek to enter into by a greater participation in the Holy Spirit Who dwells in us. Whether we are indulgent in luxuries or purposefully practicing an austere asceticism, let us glory in neither of these. If I begin to have confidence in my own fasting or in my own meekness then I have become nothing more than idol worshiper. The idol is nothing other than myself. Let us avoid this vainglory that the end and the pursuit of all our practices might be our union with God.