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10128Sections 116 - 120: Humility of the Heart - by Fr. Cajetan Mary da Bergamo

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  • john_jacob_email
    Jan 16, 2014

      116. Nothing is so contrary to true humility as to seek one's own esteem in the exercise of good works. Do you sometimes do good from motives of human respect, in order to be seen-----esteemed? "Take heed," Christ says to you, "that you do not your justice before men, to be seen by them." [Matt. vi, 1] You are merely robbing God of glory, when from the gifts He has given you, you reserve some of the glory for yourself. Examine your intentions; are they purely directed to the glorification of God?

      And granted that in doing good you do not seek the esteem of men, do you sometimes do this in order not to lose the good graces and favors of others, conforming to their spirit, which is to live according to the usage of the world in the forgetfulness of God? This is also loving the glory of the world more than the glory of God, and is a fault which is greatly opposed to humility, and which was condemned in those chief men among the Jews who believed in Christ, but from fear of the Pharisees and out of respect to their opinion did not dare to confess Him, "for they loved the glory of men more than the glory of God." [John xii, 43]

      117. Have you perhaps a conscience which is timorous by reason of many scruples? If such be the case, examine yourself, and you will probably find that the true reason of your scruples lies in your self-love, that is, in your pride.

      You are indocile and you do not know how to submit to that which your directors tell you to do; and St. Thomas teaches that this is an effect of pride, "because docility is the beautiful daughter of humility and disposes the soul to obedience."

      How is it when we read the lives of the Saints we do not find that they were agitated by these scruples? The Saints were humble, and where humility is there also is tranquility of mind. We know that many scrupulous persons have been cured of their scruples, which were considered almost incurable, by no other means than by saying to God with their whole heart: "I accuse myself of pride; I am sorry for my pride, and I ask Your help in order to amend my great pride."

      But if you find that you are scrupulous less from indocility than from cowardice, go for advice once more to St. Thomas, who teaches that this cowardice also comes from pride, because in judging one's own sufficiency we set our own judgment in opposition to that of others.

      Do you wish to enjoy the peace of a quiet conscience, and also of certain spiritual consolations which are a great help in aiding you to do willingly all that is necessary to lead a devout life and to be ever more fervent in the service of God? I cannot give you better advice than this: Give yourself to humility, and God will fill your soul with ineffable consolation. "And my spirit hath rejoiced," says the Blessed Virgin in her canticle; and she adds, for your instruction, that this exultation was sent to her by God because of her humility: "Because He hath regarded the humility of His handmaid." [Luke 1, 48]

      118. If you have a sincere wish to save your soul, you must take those means which God has ordained for you, and the principal and most essential one is humility, as is shown in holy Scripture: "For Thou wilt save the humble people." [Ps. xxxiii, 10] "And He will save the humble of spirit." [Ps. xvii, 28] "Glory shall uphold the humble of spirit." [Prov. xxix, 23] And how do you esteem this humility? How do you practice it? How fervently do you ask God for it? Do you hold it to be of precept, or only of counsel which you are at liberty to choose or reject at will? The entrance to Paradise is not only narrow but low, therefore Jesus Christ said: "Unless you become as little children, you cannot enter into the kingdom of Heaven." [Matt. xviii, 3] And into this kingdom he alone can enter who "shall humble himself."

      There is always danger on the journey towards our heavenly home for those who hold their heads high, and it is safer to keep them bowed low. This is a general rule for all.
      St. John of Chrysostom warns us: "When our Lord said, 'Learn of Me, because I am meek and humble of heart,' it was not merely to monks that He spoke, but to all classes of men."

      Humility of heart was not commanded by Jesus Christ only to religious, but also to seculars whoever they may be and without any exception.

      Examen on Humility Towards our Neighbor

      119. ACCORDING to the doctrine of Saint Thomas the first act of humility consists in subjecting ourselves to God, and the next is to subject-----that is to say to humble-----ourselves to our neighbor for the love of God; as the Holy Ghost says through St. Peter: "Be ye subject therefore to every human creature for God's sake"; [1 Peter ii, 13] and the same Holy Spirit exhorts us through St. Paul to excel each other in humility. "In humility let each esteem others better than themselves." [Phil. ii, 3]

      120. Now as your neighbor can be either your superior, your equal or your inferior, it is certain that you must practice humility first of all towards your superior which is of precept, for, as St. Peter says, such is the will of God: "For so is the will of God." [1 Peter ii, 15]

      Do you show to your superiors and betters that obedience and reverence which your state exacts? How do you receive their reprimands? Do you feel that humility of heart towards them "with a good will serving" [Eph. vi, 7] which St. Paul enjoins? There is a humility necessary for the imitation of Christ, "Who humbled Himself, becoming obedient unto death." [Phil. ii, 8] There may sometimes be an excuse of impotence or inadvertence in not obeying those whom God has set over you, but to refuse to obey is always an act of inexcusable pride. As St. Bernard [citing St. Thomas] says: "To be unwilling to obey is the proud effort of the will."