I’ve witnessed the most holy, orthodox Catholics have their minds warped by temptation and darkness, where they have fallen into sin they previously believed to be unimaginable. Some of them are still lost, others are on their way back or have recovered.
What this teaches me is that we must always “be on our guard” and be vigilant. No matter how much progress you make in the spiritual life, the moment you abandon grace, be it slowly or in a sudden moment of despair and turmoil, your mind is lost in the insanity of pride and error. And only grace can bring you back; and only the grace of humility can foster such a return. That is a hard one, since the fall from grace is humiliating once one is honest with himself or herself about it.
This also reminds me of the teaching on Mary remaining perpetually in grace. Our Lady never wavered, not because she trusted in her own resolve to be faithful, but rather because she fearfully clung to grace, knowing had she done otherwise she’d be ruined. This is the perpetual humility we all need before God, lest we boast of ourselves. May we magnify the Lord, and pray for all clergy and lay people who are so easily ensnared by the riches of honour. And may such honour that we give to others be devoid of flattery and falsehood, lest we enable their destruction and therefore our own.