Pride was the root sin and has been a chronic problem since humanity’s origins. But excessive self-regard and self-reliance have surged in modern culture, Archbishop Alexander Sample said July 5 during a homily livestreamed from St. Mary Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Northwest Portland.

“This seems to be the age of narcissism,” the archbishop said, counting himself among those who struggle with thinking about themselves too much. “Pride and narcissism bring evil, suffering, sin and death to the world. They don’t give life. They only destroy.”

When Jesus told his followers to be like little children so they could enter the Kingdom of God, it was an appeal to receptivity, not a call for ignorant acceptance, he said, adding that those in the culture with a prideful bent tend to criticize religious people as gullible. He countered that believers do not suspend human reason.

“We have every rational reason to believe in all that God has given us,” the archbishop said, explaining that once we know God by reason we naturally accept the truths God reveals. Some revelation cannot be comprehended by human reason, but does not contradict human reason, the archbishop said.

Telling viewers that he was trained as an engineer, he said that science, reason and faith fit together. He mentioned great minds of the church such as St. Augustine, St. Catherine of Siena, St. Thomas Aquinas and St. Teresa of Avila.

“These people were not ignorant,” he said. “They were incredibly gifted intellects. They could hold faith and reason together. This is what we all must do.”

At the livestreamed Mass June 28, Archbishop Sample called it difficult but essential to put God above all things, even one’s dearest human relationships.

“We are called to imitate Jesus and take up our cross,” he said, explaining that the unexpected result of self-giving is true happiness and peace. He cited the 16th century Spanish mystic, St. John of the Cross, who wrote that the only way into the thicket of God’s love and mercy is through the thicket of suffering.

“People want a Christ without the cross,” the archbishop said. “That is not possible.”