A frog wondered how he could get away from the cold winter weather. Some geese suggested to him that he could migrate with them. The problem was that the frog did not know how to fly. “I have an idea”, said the frog, “two of you geese should hold this strong reed, one on each end, and then I will grab the reed with my strong mouth”.
They did it, and it worked. So, the geese and the frog began their journey. After a while, they passed a small town and the inhabitants came out to see the unusual spectacle. Someone asked: “Who came up with such a brilliant idea”?
This made the frog feel so proud about his idea and said: “it was me”!
His pride was his end, for the moment he opened his mouth, he released himself from the reed, fell into the void, and died.
Sometimes a lack of humility, or an excess of pride, can ruin excellent plans. It does not matter so much if this happens in this mortal life, but for sure this always happens with our supernatural life. Jesus explicitly said this when talking about the hypocrites who were proud of their deeds: they have received their reward (Mt 6:5) and He also says that if we act like them you will have no recompense from your heavenly Father (Mt 6:1).
That is the power of pride; it ruins or cancels supernatural rewards. We are not talking about doing something without a supernatural intention, like when a person gives alms just for vainglory. No, we are talking about having a supernatural intention for an action: I give money to this person because I see Jesus in him: you did it for me (Mt 25:40) but then ruining that intention by being proud of it, and, for example, telling someone out of pride: “you know I found a poor person in the street, and for me that person was Jesus, so I gave money to him, because Jesus said that we should help our neighbors.”
We feel some kind of happiness or joy when we tell others about the good deeds we do. That happiness or joy comes from vainglory and is the reward of pride. By doing this, we get rid of the supernatural merit we gained with the good work we did.
This can happen with works of mercy or charity, but it also can happen with other ordinary tasks of our life. We can receive a supernatural reward or every single action we do, if we perform that action for the glory of God, or because it is God’s Will. However, we can lose that reward when we look for consolation from others.
One very common situation that illustrates this is when we are tired. We start to look for the consolation of compassion from others so we tell someone that I am tired because I did this or that and then we receive some consolation from that person. Or when we have some pain and we want everyone to know that we are suffering instead of silently offering that suffering to Our Heavenly Father who sees in secret (Mt 6:4).