Father Carota has been posting this week about the importance of humility. These posts really have struck us that humbling ourselves to our Lord is the key to salvation. It also really takes the pressure off. There really is nothing more we have to do besides that and God will take care of the rest. Always practice obedience and humility.
Humility Of Heart Part 10
44. Although sin is in itself a great evil—–in fact the greatest of all evils—–still under a certain form it can prove a food to us if we know how to avail ourselves of it as a means of exercising humility. How many great sinners have become great Saints without having done anything more than keep their sins constantly before their eyes, and humble themselves in shame and confusion before God and their fellowmen!
Those words: “Against Thee only have I sinned,” which David carried in his heart, contributed more than anything else to make him a Saint. And the angelic St. Thomas in explaining the verse of St. Paul to the Romans: [Romans viii, 28] “This is the good that profits them that love God, for when they fall from the love of God by sin they then return to Him more humble and more cautious.” [3 par, qu. lxxxix, art. 2 ad 1]
It is in this that the good and wisdom of God is most admirably set forth, that He offers us a means of sanctifying ourselves through our very miseries, and we shall never be able to make the excuse that we could not become Saints because we committed grave sin, when those very sins might have been the means of sanctifying us by urging us to a deeper humility. How great is God’s mercy in thus giving me the means of sanctifying myself only by remembering that I have sinned and by meditating in the light of holy faith upon what it means to be a sinner!
St. Mary Magdalen did not become holy so much by the tears she shed as by the humility of her heart. Her sanctification began when she first began to be humble in the knowledge of herself and of God. “She knew.” [Luke vii, 37]
She advanced in sanctity as she advanced in humility, for when she did not dare to appear before Jesus Christ she remained behind Him, “and standing behind,” [Luke vii, 38] and she completed her career of sanctity by her humility, for, as St. Gregory says, she did nothing all the rest of her life but meditate upon the great evil she had committed in sinning. “She considered what she had done.” [Hom. 20 in Evang.]
45. When we feel ashamed and disturbed at having fallen into sin, this is but a temptation of the devil, who tries to make use of our distress to draw us perhaps into some graver sin.
The sorrow we feel at having offended God does not distress the soul, but rather leaves it calm and serene, because it is a sorrow united to humility, which brings grace with it; but to be distressed and overwhelmed by sadness—–either from the shame we feel at having committed some disgraceful action, or from a sudden recognition of our liability to fall just when we thought ourselves stronger and more faithful than ever—–is simply pride, which is born of an excessive self-love. We have too good an opinion of ourselves, and this is the reason why we are disturbed when we see our reputation injured by others or diminished by our own actions. If I reflect well whenever I am distressed about my own faults, I shall find that my distress is only due to pride, which persuades me by the subtle artifice of self-love that I am better than the just themselves, of whom it is written: ” A just man shall fall seven times.” [Prov. xxiv, 16]
He who is humble, even though he fall through frailty, soon repents with sorrow, and implores the Divine assistance to help him to amend; nor is he astonished at having fallen, because he knows that of himself he is only capable of evil, and would do far worse if God did not protect Him with His grace. After having sinned it is good to humble oneself before God, and without losing courage to remain in humility so as not to fall again, and to say with David: “I have been humbled, O Lord, exceedingly; quicken Thou me according to Thy word.” [Ps. cxviii, 107] But to afflict ourselves without measure, and to give way to a certain pusillanimous melancholy, which brings us to the verge of despair, is a temptation of pride, insinuated by the devil, of whom it is written, he is king “over all the children of pride.” [Job xli, 25]
46. However upright we may be, we must never be scandalized nor amazed at the conduct of evil-doers, nor consider ourselves better than they, because we do not know what is ordained for them or for us in the supreme dispositions of God, “Who doth great things and unsearchable and wonderful things without number.” [Job v, 9]
When Zaccheus thought only of usury and oppressing the poor, when Magdalen filled Jerusalem with scandal, when Paul cursed and persecuted the Christian religion, who would have imagined that they would ever have become Saints? And on the other hand, who would have believed that Solomon, the oracle of Divine wisdom, would die in the midst of wantonness and idols? That Judas, one of the Apostles, would betray his Divine Master and then give himself up to despair? Or that many holy men advanced in sanctity would have become apostates? These are examples which should make us tremble when we reflect upon the unfathomable mystery of the judgment and mercy of God: “One He putteth down, and another He lifteth up.” [Ps. lxxiv, 8] “He hath put down the mighty from their seat, and hath exalted the humble.” [Luke i, 52]
Every Saint can in a moment become a sinner if he is vain of his sanctity; and a sinner can as quickly become a Saint if he is contrite and humbles himself for his sin. How many there are who in the fervor of their prayer “mount up to the heavens” and soon afterwards, at the slightest occasion of sin, they “go down to the depths”! [Ps. cvi, 26] How many there are too who, given up to vanity and stained with the deepest sins, are suddenly changed by having their eyes opened to the knowledge of the truth and who thus attain to Christian perfection! Indeed the high counsels of God are to be adored and not scrutinized, for “The Lord humbleth and exalteth; He raiseth up the needy from the dust, and lifteth up the poor from the dung-hill. [1 Kings ii, 7, 8]
Its impossible to not notice, or to be affected by, the increasing pridefulness and vanity of our friends and family. It is rare to find a person that accepts correction well or is repentant about their sinful ways. This does not bode well for the world or for their eternal salvation. Humility is the glue that hold all the virtues together. Let us all pray fervently for an increase in humility. St. Augustine please pray for us.
Please read the important essay from Father Peter Carota on the importance of humility in your spiritual development.
Humility Of Heart – Part 1
September 22, 2015
IN Paradise there are many Saints who never gave alms on earth: their poverty justified them. There are many Saints who never mortified their bodies by fasting, or wearing hair shirts: their bodily infirmities excused them. There are many Saints too who were not virgins: their vocation was otherwise. But in Paradise there is no Saint who was not humble.
1. God banished Angels from Heaven for their pride; therefore how can we pretend to enter therein, if we do not keep ourselves in a state of humility? Without humility, says St. Peter Damian, [Serm. 45] not even the Virgin Mary herself with her incomparable virginity could have entered into the glory of Christ, and we ought to be convinced of this truth that, though destitute of some of the other virtues, we may yet be saved, but never without humility. There are people who flatter themselves that they have done much by preserving unsullied chastity, and truly chastity is a beautiful adornment; but as the angelic St. Thomas says: “Speaking absolutely, humility excels virginity.” [4 dist. qu. xxxiii, art. 3 ad 6; et 22, qu. clxi, art. 5]
We often study diligently to guard against and correct ourselves of the vices of concupiscence which belong to a sensual and animal nature, and this inward conflict which the body wages adversus carnem[Gal. 5,17] is truly a spectacle worthy of God and of His Angels. But, alas, how rarely do we use this diligence and caution to conquer spiritual vices, of which pride is the first and the greatest of all, and which, sufficed of itself to transform an Angel into a demon!
2. Jesus Christ calls us all into His school to learn, not to work miracles nor to astonish the world by marvelous enterprises, but to be humble of heart. “Learn of Me, because I am meek and humble of heart.” [Matt. 11, 29] He has not called everyone to be doctors, preachers or priests, nor has He bestowed on all the gift of restoring sight to the blind, healing the sick, raising the dead or casting out devils, but to all He has said: “Learn of Me to be humble of heart,” and to all He has given the power to learn humility of Him. Innumerable things are worthy of imitation in the Incarnate Son of God, but He only asks us to imitate His humility. What then? Must we suppose that all the treasures of Divine Wisdom which were in Christ are to be reduced to the virtue of humility? “So it certainly is,” answers St. Augustine. Humility contains all things because in this virtue is truth; therefore God must also dwell therein, since He is the truth.
The Savior might have said: “Learn of Me to be chaste, humble, prudent, just, wise, abstemious, etc.” But He only says: “Learn of Me, because I am meek and humble of heart”; and in humility alone He includes all things, because, as St. Thomas so truly says, “Acquired humility is in a certain sense the greatest good.” [Lib. de sancta virginit. c. xxxv] Therefore whoever possesses this virtue may be said, as to his proximate disposition, to possess all virtues, and he who lacks it, lacks all.
3. Reading the works of St. Augustine we find in them all that his sole idea was the exaltation of God above the creature as far as possible, and as far as possible the humble subjection of the creature to God. The recognition of this truth should find a place in every Christian mind, thus establishing—–according to the acuteness and penetration of our intelligence—–a sublime conception of God, and a lowly and vile conception of the creature. But we can only succeed in doing this by humility.
Humility is in reality a confession of the greatness of God, Who after His voluntary self-annihilation was exalted and glorified; wherefore Holy Writ says: “For great is the power of God alone, and He is honored by the humble.” [Ecclus. iii, 21]
It was for this reason that God pledged Himself to exalt the humble, and continually showers new graces upon them in return for the glory He constantly receives from them. Hence the inspired word again reminds us: “Be humble, and thou shalt obtain every grace from God.” [Ecclus. iii, 20]
The humblest man honors God most by his humility, and has the reward of being more glorified by God, Who has said: “Whoever honors Me, I will glorify him.” [1 Kings ii, 30] Oh, if we could only see how great is the glory of the humble in Heaven!
4. Humility is a virtue that belongs essentially to Christ, not only as man, but more especially as God, because with God to be good, holy and merciful is not virtue but nature, and humility is only a virtue. God cannot exalt Himself above what He is, in His most high Being, nor can He increase His vast and infinite greatness; but He can humiliate Himself as in fact He did humiliate and lower Himself. “He humbled Himself, He emptied Himself,” [Phil. ii, 7, 8] revealing Himself to us, through His humility, as the Lord of all virtues, the conqueror of the world, of death, Hell and sin.
No greater example of humility can be given than that of the Only Son of God when “the Word was made Flesh.” Nothing could be more sublime than the words of St. John’s Gospel, “In the beginning was the Word.” And no abasement can be deeper than that which follows: “And the Word was made Flesh.”
By this union of the Creator with the creature the Highest was united with the lowest. Jesus Christ summed up all His Heavenly doctrine in humility, and before teaching it, it was His will to practice it perfectly Himself. As St. Augustine says: “He was unwilling to teach what He Himself was not, He was unwilling to command what He Himself did not practice.” [Lib. de sancta virginit. c. xxxvi]
But to what purpose did He do all this if not that by this means all His followers should learn humility by practical example? He is our Master, and we are His disciples; but what profit do we derive from His teachings, which are practical and not theoretical?
How shameful it would be for anyone, after studying for many years in a school of art or science, under the teaching of excellent masters, if he were still to remain absolutely ignorant! My shame is great indeed, because I have lived so many years in the school of Jesus Christ, and yet I have learnt nothing of that holy humility which He sought so earnestly to teach me. “Have mercy upon me according to Thy Word. Thou art good, and in Thy goodness teach me Thy justifications. Give me understanding, and I will learn Thy Commandments.” [Ps. cxviii, 58, 68, 73]
5. There is a kind of humility which is of counsel and of perfection such as that which desires and seeks the contempt of others; but there is also a humility which is of necessity and of precept, without which, says Christ, we cannot enter into the kingdom of Heaven: “Thou shalt not enter into the kingdom of Heaven.” [Matt. xviii, 3] And this consists in not esteeming ourselves and in not wishing to be esteemed by others above what we really are.
No one can deny this truth, that humility is essential to all those who wish to be saved. “No one reaches the kingdom of Heaven except by humility,” says St. Augustine. [Lib. de Salut. cap. xxxii]
But, I ask, what is practically this humility which is so necessary? When we are told that faith and hope are necessary, it is also explained to us what we are to believe and to hope. In like manner, when humility is said to be necessary, in what should its practice consist except in the lowest opinion of ourselves? It is in this moral sense that the humility of the heart has been explained by the fathers of the Church. But can I say with truth that I possess this humility which I recognize as necessary and obligatory? What care or solicitude do I display to acquire it? When a virtue is of precept, so is its practice also, as St. Thomas teaches. And therefore, as there is a humility which is of precept, “it has its rule in the mind, viz., that one is not to esteem oneself to be above that which one really is.” [22, quo xvi, 2, art. 6]
How and when do I practice its acts, acknowledging and confessing my unworthiness before God? The following was the frequent prayer of St. Augustine, “Noscam Te, noscam me—–May I know Thee; may I know myself!” and by this prayer he asked for humility, which is nothing else but a true knowledge of God and of oneself. To confess that God is what He is, the Omnipotent, “Great is the Lord, and exceedingly to be praised,” [Ps. xlvii, 1] and to declare that we are but nothingness before Him: “My substance is as nothing before Thee” [Ps. xxxviii, 6]—–this is to be humble.