Humility of Heart by Fr. Cajetan Mary da Bergamo
Thoughts and Sentiments on Humility - Part 8

50. Humility is charitable, interpreting all things for the best and pitying and excusing the faults of others as much as possible. For this reason St. Peter, wishing to exhort us to love and have compassion upon our fellow-creatures, also exhorts us at the same time to be humble: "Having compassion one of another, being lovers of the brotherhood-----humble," [1 Pet. iii, 8] for there can be no charity without humility, and therefore to censure and criticize too readily the actions of our neighbors and to judge and speak ill of them are vices which are directly opposed to the virtue of humility. Who has given me the power to judge my brethren? When I thus constitute myself their judge and in the tribunal of my thoughts condemn first one and then another, I am usurping an authority I do not possess and which belongs to God alone: "For God is Judge." [Ps. xlix, 6] And if this is not pride, what is pride? In punishment of such arrogance God often permits us to fall into the very faults that we have condemned in others, and it is well for us to remember the teaching of St. Paul: "Wherefore thou art inexcusable, O man, whosoever thou art that judgest. For wherein thou judgest another thou condemnest thyself." [Rom. ii, 1] There is always some pharisaical pride in the heart of him who judges and speaks evil of others, because in belittling others he exalts himself. It is in vain that we try ahd cover our evil-speaking under ,the veil of some good motive; it must always be the result of pride which is quick to find out the weaknesses of others while remaining blind to its own.

If we are guilty of pride let us try and amend and not flatter ourselves that we possess the smallest degree of humility, until by our good resolutions carefully carried out we have mortified our evil tendency to speak ill of our neighbor. Let us hearken to the Holy Ghost: "Where pride is there also shall be reproach, but where humility is there also is wisdom." [Prov. xi, 2]

The proud man is scornful and arrogant in his speech; and the humble alone knows how to speak well and wisely. If there is humility in the heart it will be manifested in the speech, because "A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good." [Luke vi, 45]

51. But in order to acquire humility, it is necessary also to be prudent in not speaking well of oneself. "Let. another praise thee," says the inspired word, "and not thy own mouth, a stranger and not thy own lips." [Prov. xxvii, 11]

It is very easy for us to fall into this fault of praising ourselves "Until it becomes a habit, and with this habit so opposed to humility how can we be humble?

What good qualities have we of our own for which we can praise ourselves? All the good that is in us comes from God, and to Him alone we must give praise and honor. When, therefore, we praise ourselves we are usurping glory which is due to God alone. Even though in praising ourselves we sometimes refer all to the honor of God, it matters little; when there is no absolute necessity it is better to abstain from self-praise, for although we refer all to the glory of God with our lips, our ingenious and subtle self-love cannot fail to appropriate it secretly. And even speaking depreciatingly of ourselves there may lurk some hypocritical pride in our words, such as was mentioned by the sage of old when he said: "There is one that humbleth himself wickedly, and his interior is full of deceit." [Ecclus xix, 23]

Therefore we can never watch over ourselves enough, because there is nothing that teaches us so well to know the pride of our heart as our words, with which we either reveal or hide the depravity of our affections. And this is the characteristic of the proud, according to St. Bernard: "One who boastfully proclaims what he is, or lies about what he is not." [Epist. lxxxvii]

Let us bear in heart and mind this precious advice given by Tobias to his son: "Never suffer pride to reign in thy mind or in thy words." [Tob. iv, 14] The words of a proud man are nauseous, whether he speaks of himself or others, and they are hated both by God and man: therefore we should detest this vice, not only from the Christian but also from the human standpoint.
"So let us be confident, let us not be unprepared, let us not be outflanked, let us be wise, vigilant, fighting against those who are trying to tear the faith out of our souls and morality out of our hearts, so that we may remain Catholics, remain united to the Blessed Virgin Mary, remain united to the Roman Catholic Church, remain faithful children of the Church."- Abp. Lefebvre
Thoughts and Sentiments on Humility - Part 9

52. God has Himself given us the means of obtaining this humility of heart, in the remembrance of death and by meditation upon it. Death is the best teacher of truth; and pride-----being nothing but an illusion of our heart-----clings to a vanity which it does not recognize as vanity; and therefore death is the best means by which we can learn what vanity is and how to detach our hearts from it.

Our self-love is wounded at the thought that we must soon die, and when we least expect it, and that with death everything comes to an end for us in this world; but at the same time this reflection weakens and humbles our self-love. Unfortunately, we do not think of death with that seriousness which we ought to give to it.

If I knew for certain that I had to die within a year, I imagine that I should grow more humble from day to day at the thought that each day was bringing me nearer to my death. But who can assure me that I have one year to live-----I, who am not certain to live to the end of the day?

O my God, true light of my soul, keep alive within me the remembrance of my death. Tell me often with Thine own voice in my heart that I must die, perhaps within a year, perhaps within a month, perhaps within a week; and thus I shall remain humble. In order that the thought of death may not be unfruitful to me, excite within my soul now that knowledge and those feelings which I shall have at that last hour of my life when the blessed taper is placed in my hands "in the day of trial." [Wisd. iii, 18] Make me know now as I shall know then what vanity is, and then how can I ever be arrogant again in the face of that most certain truth? "Vanity of vanities, and all is vanity." [Eccles. i, 2] Job was always humble even in in the days of his prosperity: "My days shall be shortened and only the grave remaineth for me."
[Job xvii, 1]

53. Another humiliating thought lies in the remembrance of the judgment to come. Saints tremble at the thought that they will be judged by a God in Whose presence not even the Angels are immaculate. They tremble, although they have nothing to be judged except their good works. And what will become of me, therefore, who am guilty of so many sins?

Therefore if I esteem myself and seek to be esteemed by others either as more virtuous or less sinful than I really am, it is certain that such a desire can only arise from my own hypocrisy, by which I appear before the eyes of men under a false disguise, leading them to believe that I am one thing when I am really another, because I know that they cannot see what is going on in my heart; but a time will come when God will reveal my wickedness to the whole world: "I will show thy nakedness to the nations, and thy shame to kingdoms." [Nahum iii, 5] And then I shall appear as I really am. And what will they say of me who have been deceived by my false dissemblings?

O my soul, be humble and forget not that the more thou art exalted in thy own esteem the more wilt thou be shamed and confounded at the judgment day. For then, as says the prophet, "Man shall be humbled," [Isa. v, 15] and only the humble will be able to glory "in his exultation." [Jas i, 9] Remember that according to the saying of Isaias, the day of judgment has been appointed especially to humble the proud: "Because the day of the Lord of hosts shall be on every one that is proud and high-minded, and he shall be humbled," [Isa. ii, 12] and thou shouldest regard as though specially directed to thyself that prophetic voice from God which says: "Behold I come against thee, O proud one, saith the Lord, for thy day is come, the time of thy visitation. And the proud one shall fall, he shall fall down, and there shall be none to lift him up." [Isa. 1, 31]

Ah, how can I indeed esteem myself more than others when we have all to appear as criminals, miserable and naked, before God's judgment seat? So writes St. Paul in his Epistle to the Romans: "But thou, why judgest thou thy brother? And why dost thou despise thy mother? For we shall all stand before the judgment-seat of Christ." [Rom. xiv, 10]
"So let us be confident, let us not be unprepared, let us not be outflanked, let us be wise, vigilant, fighting against those who are trying to tear the faith out of our souls and morality out of our hearts, so that we may remain Catholics, remain united to the Blessed Virgin Mary, remain united to the Roman Catholic Church, remain faithful children of the Church."- Abp. Lefebvre
Thoughts and Sentiments on Humility - Part 10

54. O my soul, humble thyself in the remembrance that there is a Hell, not considering it only in the abstract, nor even as a contrivance for the punishment of sinners in general, but regard it rather as a place specially prepared for thyself, and deserved by thee more than once!

For there the proud will be cast headlong, and I should be there with them at this moment, eternally insulted and tormented by devils, had I not been preserved therefrom by the mercy of God. Millions of Angels have been imprisoned there for having committed one sole sin of pride and that only in thought. Ah, my soul, continue thus in thy pride and thy false self-esteem, guarding thy own susceptibilities and oblivious of the rights of others, and "thou shalt be brought down to Hell;" that place of torment awaits thee, and there below thy pride shall indeed be humbled. Thou who delightest now in thy own proud thoughts shalt there be thrust into flames of fire, and thou who now wishest to be above all shalt then be below all. For there below thou wilt have to face a God Who bears an infinite hatred to the proud and is infinitely angry with them. And as it is a truth that the humble shall be exalted in Heaven, it is also a truth that the proud shall be humbled and cast down into Hell.

"And the rich man also died"; thus writes St. Luke of a proud man who was "clothed in purple and fine linen." And the rich man died-----that is the end of all humanity and vanity; and "he was buried in Hell" [Luke xvi, 22] -----that is the end of all pride. The grave is the end of man; Hell is the end of the proud.

55. But above all the thought of eternity should keep us humble. Taking it for granted that I am mistaken in practicing humility in this world, and in giving place to others, I know that my mistake is small because everything below comes quickly to an end; but if I am deceiving myself by living in reckless pride, my mistake is great because it will last for all eternity. But even if I am living in humility, I must still fear because I can never be sure whether this humility which I think I possess is true humility or not; how much more then should I fear if I am living in open pride? So be it, O my soul! satisfy all thy proud desires: be thou esteemed, praised and honored by all the world; possess knowledge, riches and pleasure without adversity, without opposition, without any obstacles to trouble thee or restrain thy vicious passions. And then? And then? I pray thee in this to imitate the proud Nabuchodonosor, who even in the fulness of his power thought of "what should come to pass hereafter." [Dan. ii, 29] All is vanity that hath an end; and we are doomed to enter into that eternity which hath no end; therefore what will be the end of the vanity of thy pride? The most ignominious humiliation:. and most bitter lamentations that will last for ever and ever.

On this side the grave all things pass away, but on the other side what will become of me? Quid futurum post hæc? To this I give no thought; and to speak the truth this is the reason why I am dominated by vanity, because I give so little thought to eternity. King David was most humble of heart because he he was filled with the dread of eternity: "And I meditate in the night with my own heart: Will God then cast off for ever." [Ps. lxxvi, 7, 8] Whenever the world offers thee honors, fame and pleasure, remember, my soul, to say within thyself: And then? And then? "Remember what things have been before thee." [Ecclus xli, 5]

How many of those who were conspicuous amongst the proud of this world have overcome their pride and acquired humility by one single serious thought of eternity! The words of the prophet have always been and will always be found true: "And the ancient mountains were crushed to pieces, the hills of the world were bowed down by the journeys of His eternity." [Hab. iii, 6]
"So let us be confident, let us not be unprepared, let us not be outflanked, let us be wise, vigilant, fighting against those who are trying to tear the faith out of our souls and morality out of our hearts, so that we may remain Catholics, remain united to the Blessed Virgin Mary, remain united to the Roman Catholic Church, remain faithful children of the Church."- Abp. Lefebvre
Thoughts and Sentiments on Humility - Part 11

56. There is one kind of pride which is more abominable in the eyes of God than any other, and it is that, says Holy Writ, which belongs more especially to the poor. "A poor man that is proud My soul hateth." [Ecclus xxv, 4] If the pride of one who is rich in merit, talents and virtues-----treasures most precious to the soul-----is displeasing to God, still more displeasing to Him will it be in one who has not these same motives for pride, but who on the contrary has every reason to be humble. And this, I fear, is the pride of which I am guilty.

I am poor in soul, without virtue or merit, full of iniquity and malice, and yet I esteem myself and love my own esteem so much that I am troubled if others do not esteem me also. I am truly a poor, proud, miserable creature; and the greater my poverty, the more my pride is detestable in the eyes of God. All this proceeds from not knowing myself. Grant, O my God, that I may say with the prophet: "I am the man that see my poverty." [Lam. iii, 1] Make known unto me, O Lord, mine own wretchedness, that of myself I am nothing, know nothing, and possess nothing but my sins, and deserve nothing but Hell. I have received from Thee many graces, lights and inspirations, and much help, and yet with what ingratitude have I responded to Thy infinite goodness! Who more sinful, who more ungrateful, and who more wicked than I? The more Thou hast done for me, the more humble I ought to be, for I shall have to render unto Thee a most strict account of all Thy benefits: "And unto whomsoever much is given, of him much shall be required." [Luke xii, 48] And yet the greater Thy goodness, the greater my pride. I blush with shame, and it is the knowledge of my pride that obliges me now to be humble.

57. It is easier to be humble in adversity than in prosperity, and it is impossible to say how much temporal happiness influences man to be proud. "They are not in the labor of men"; [Ps. lxxii, 5] thus the Prophet-King speaks of sinners, and adds: "Therefore pride hath held them fast." [Ps. lxxii, 6]

Adversity counterbalances our self-love and prevents its growth, for on the one hand it makes known our frailties to us, the more so when it is unexpected and grievous, and on the other hand it compels us to turn our thoughts to God, implore His mercy, and humble ourselves under His hand, as did the prophet: "In my affliction I called on the Lord"; [Ps. xvii, 7] "And as one sorrowful so was I humbled." [Ps. xxxiv, 14] Therefore, if we know not how to bear our tribulations with cheerfulness, let us at least endure them with patience and humility.

Oh, how precious are those humiliations by which we acquire, and learn to exercise, humility! It is then that we ought to exclaim with the psalmist, "Thou hast humbled the proud one, as one that is slain"; [Ps. lxxxviii, 11] or else, like King Nabuchodonosor when he came to his senses, and humbly exclaimed: "Therefore I do now praise and magnify and glorify the King of Heaven, because them that walk in pride He is able to abase." [Dan. iv, 34] Afflictions are not wanting in this vale of tears, but there are few who know how to use them as a means of becoming humble. Grant of Thy mercy, O my God, that I may be amongst those few!
"So let us be confident, let us not be unprepared, let us not be outflanked, let us be wise, vigilant, fighting against those who are trying to tear the faith out of our souls and morality out of our hearts, so that we may remain Catholics, remain united to the Blessed Virgin Mary, remain united to the Roman Catholic Church, remain faithful children of the Church."- Abp. Lefebvre
Thoughts and Sentiments on Humility - Part 12

58. We must not be too apt to flatter ourselves that we possess any special virtue. Our chastity may be the result of a want of opportunities or temptations: and in like manner our patience may proceed from a phlegmatic temperament, or be dictated by worldly, and not by Christian, wisdom. This can be said of many other virtues in which we are liable to make the same mistake.

We must study this doctrine well, that the true Christian virtues are "born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God"; [John i, 13] that is, that they are not the work either of the desires, passions or reason of man, but proceed from God as their first principle, and return to God as their last end. This knowledge is necessary for us, so that we may not imagine ourselves to be virtuous when we are not, nor think ourselves better than others when we see them falling into some sin.

We should ever learn lessons of humility from the faults of others, and say: If I had found myself in like circumstances, and had had the same temptation, perhaps I should have done worse. If God does not permit great temptations to assail me, it is because He knows my weakness and that I should succumb to them; with eyes of compassion He sees what I am, "a weak man." [Wisd. ix, 5] And if I do not fall into sin, it is not by my own virtue, but by God's grace. Let me therefore abide in humility, and it is to my advantage, because if in my pride I count myself greater than others, God will abandon me and suffer me to fall, and will humble me through those very things for which I wish to exalt myself. Listen to the advice of St. Augustine: "I make bold to say that it is profitable for the proud to fall, in order that they may be humbled in that for which they have exalted themselves." [Serm. liii, de Verb. Dom.]
"So let us be confident, let us not be unprepared, let us not be outflanked, let us be wise, vigilant, fighting against those who are trying to tear the faith out of our souls and morality out of our hearts, so that we may remain Catholics, remain united to the Blessed Virgin Mary, remain united to the Roman Catholic Church, remain faithful children of the Church."- Abp. Lefebvre
Thoughts and Sentiments on Humility - Part 13

59. Whenever it happens that we do good to the souls of others, either by instruction or good advice, or by our discourses and good example, it is then more than at any other time that we should consider ourselves bound to be humble for this reason, which is founded on faith and truth: God chooses things most vile, most weak, most base and most worthy of contempt in this world for the fulfilment of His great purposes, and this is a truth revealed by the Holy Ghost through the mouth of St. Paul: "But the foolish things of the world, and the weak things of the world, and the base things of the world, and the things that are contemptible, hath God chosen." [1 Cor. i, 27, 28]

Therefore it follows that if God has made me His instrument to sow good seed in the souls of others, that they may bring forth fruit unto everlasting life, which is the most wonderful work that proceeds from His mercy and omnipotence, I must in consequence count myself in truth amongst the vilest and most contemptible things of this world. "And the base things of the world and the things that are contemptible and things that are not." This is an article of faith.

If a soul were to be lost through my bad example or advice, I should certainly be the author and cause of its destruction, but if a soul should be saved either by my word or deed I cannot attribute the glory to myself, because the salvation of that soul will have been wholly the work of God: "Salvation is of the Lord." [Ps. iii, 9]

The gifts of knowledge, wisdom and eloquence and even of working miracles, are graces that are called gratis datæ and are sometimes even given to the wicked. Sanctifying grace alone which is given to him who lives in humility and charity is that which renders the soul precious in the eyes of God; but no one is sure of possessing it.

60. As Paradise is only for the humble, therefore in Paradise everyone will have more or less glory according to his degree of humility. God has exalted Jesus Christ in glory above all, because He was the humblest of all: being the true Son of God He yet elected to become the most abject of all men. And after Jesus Christ the most exalted of all was His holy Mother, because being superior to all in her dignity as Mother of God she yet humbled herself more than all by her profound humility. This rule, dictated by the wisdom of God, applies to all the other Saints who are exalted in their glory in Heaven in proportion to their humility on earth.

Holy Writ says truly that "Humility goeth before glory." [Prov. xv, 33] Job had said the same: "For he that hath been humbled shall be in glory." [ Job xxii, 29] But the Saviour of the world spoke more plainly still when, having shown that humility was necessary to enter the kingdom of Heaven, He called unto Him a little child, and said: "Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, he is the greater in the kingdom of Heaven." [Matt. xviii, 4] And, oh, how precious humility must be when God recompenses it with eternal glory! Oh, my soul, lift up the eyes of thy faith to Paradise, and consider whether it be not best to be humble in our short existence here on earth, so as to enter with joy into the immeasurable glory of that happy eternity? "For that which is at present momentary, worketh for us above measure exceedingly an eternal weight of glory." [Cor. iv, 17] Recommend thyself with all thy heart to that God, "Who setteth up the humble on high." [Job v, 11]

61. The proof of true humility is patience: neither meekness of speech, nor humbleness of bearing, nor the giving up of oneself to lowly works, are sufficient indications by which to judge if a soul is truly humble. There are many who bear all the appearance of exterior humility, but who are angered at every slight adversity, and resent any little vexation which they may encounter.

If under certain circumstances we show toleration and patience in bearing an insult, in suffering a wrong in silence without indignation and anger or resentment, it is a good sign, and we may begin to conclude that we have some humility; but even then patience can only be an infallible sign of true humility when it proceeds from the recognition of our own unworthiness and when we tolerate the wrong because we know that we ourselves are full of faults and are deserving of it.

And how do we stand in regard to this patience, O my soul? O my God, how much pride I find even in my patience! Sometimes I suffer a wrong, but at the same time I feel that I am wronged. I suffer an insult, but consider that I do not deserve it: and if others do not esteem me, yet I esteem myself. Is there humility here? Not a vestige of it!

The holy fathers attribute to Jesus Christ the words which the prophet says of himself: "For I am ready for scourges" [Ps. xxxvii, 18], because by reason of our iniquities which He had taken upon Himself He considered Himself deserving of all the penalties and opprobrium of the world. Here is the pattern of true humility.

Very different is the patience of the philosophers and stoics, and the patience of worldly people from that of true Christians. The stoics taught great patience in their writings and by their example, but it was a patience that was the outcome of pride, self-esteem and contempt for others. The worldly-minded, it is true, bear the many anxieties and afflictions of their own state of life with patience, but it is a patience that proceeds from interested motives or the necessity of worldly prudence. Christians alone possess that patience united to humility which receives every adversity with submission to the Divine will: and this is the patience which is pleasing to God; for, as St. Augustine says: "That which a man does from pride is not pleasing to God, but that which he does from humility is acceptable to Him."

62. The following thoughts may sometimes trouble us: Who knows whether my past confessions have been good? Who knows whether I have felt real sorrow for my sins? Who knows if my sins have been forgiven? Who knows whether I am in the grace of God? Who knows whether I shall obtain the grace of final perseverance, and who knows if I am predestined to be saved? But it is not God's intention that this uncertainty should cause us these anxieties and scruples. In His infinite wisdom He has hidden from us the mysteries of His justice and mercy, so that our ignorance should prove a most efficacious help to keep us in humility. Therefore the profit we ought to derive from such thoughts is this: to live always in fear and humility before God, to do good diligently and to avoid evil without ever exalting ourselves in our self-esteem above others because we do not know what our doom may be. "Serve ye the Lord with fear." [Ps. ii, 11] "Fear the Lord all ye His Saints." [ Ps. xxxiii, 10]

Such is the Divine will towards us, manifested through St. Paul. God expects us always to be humble, whether it be for that which He reveals to us or for that which He withholds from us. When we read the Holy Scriptures, we find many prophecies proceeding from the Holy Ghost that terrify us; but many others that console us. When we read the writings of the holy fathers we find in them some judgments that are very terrible, and some that are very lenient. When we read the theological works of the scholastics we find in them opinions upon the subjects of grace and predestination that alarm us and others that encourage us. Why is this? The Providence of God has thus disposed it, so that between hope and fear we might remain humble.
"So let us be confident, let us not be unprepared, let us not be outflanked, let us be wise, vigilant, fighting against those who are trying to tear the faith out of our souls and morality out of our hearts, so that we may remain Catholics, remain united to the Blessed Virgin Mary, remain united to the Roman Catholic Church, remain faithful children of the Church."- Abp. Lefebvre
Thoughts and Sentiments on Humility - Part 14

The mysteries of grace and predestination would no longer be mysteries if we were capable of grasping them with our understanding. To pause and consider whether God has forgiven our sins or not, and whether we are living in a state of grace, or whether we are predestined, etc., is in itself an act of temerity and pride, inasmuch as we are seeking to know the hidden judgments of God Who does not wish us to know them so that we may remain in humility. "Be not highminded but fear," says St. Paul. [Rom. xi, 20]

63. I ought to be most grateful to anyone who helps to keep me in humility by subjecting me to humiliations of word and deed, because he is co-operating with the Divine mercy to fulfill the work of my eternal salvation. And although he has no thought of my salvation when he offends me, he is nevertheless an instrument thereof, and all the evil comes from me if I do not make a good use of it. St. Ambrose says of David when he was insulted by Semei with vituperations and stoning, that he "held his peace and humbled himself," [Lib. 1, Offic., cap. xviii] keeping his mind fixed on this one thought: "The Lord hath bid him curse me." [2 Kings xvi, 10] We are grateful to the surgeon who bleeds us, even though he may not be thinking of our health but of this particular office of his profession. Therefore if we understood this, not as Stoic philosophers but as good Christians, we ought to be grateful to those who humiliate us, for although they have no intention of making us humble but only of humiliating us, yet in reality this humiliation helps us to acquire humility if such be our desire.

The benefit is a real benefit, although he who confers it has no intention that it should be so. An insult is only an insult in the intention of the man who gives it, and the humiliation belongs only to him who receives it; and it is a most sure means of acquiring and practicing humility, if he knows how to receive it in a Christian spirit.

To this end God permits us to be humiliated at itimes so that we may give a proof of our virtue "in the furnace of humiliation," [Ecclus. ii, 5] and the teacher of this wise rule goes on to say: "Humble thy heart and endure." [Ecclus. ii, 2]

64. Everything depends upon the way in which we take things. To rule our life by the maxims of the world, is certain to inspire pride; and it is equally certain that to rule ourselves by the maxims of the Gospel will inspire humility. According to the world we should repulse an insult with anger and resentment, but according to the Gospel we should accept it with a humble, prudent and meek patience. "This saying is hard." [John vi, 61] But how much patience do we not exercise to please the world! Patience that is often bitter and hard! And shall it therefore be a "hard saying" that we are to have patience and humility in order to please God? Ah, miserable soul of mine, let us attend to the things of this world, the thoughts and ideas and scruples of this world, its obligations and opinions, its politics and loves and caprices! I know well that humility can only be laborious and wearisome in such an atmosphere, so full of worldliness, for as Holy Writ says: "Humility is an abomination to the proud." [Ecclus. xiii, 24] But let us rise above the world and its opinions, and in the light of the eternal truth of faith we shall find that this virtue is not only easy but sweet and pleasing, because all that Christ has told us is true, and after having exhorted us to learn humility from him, "Learn of Me for I am meek and humble of heart," He immediately added, "For My yoke is easy and My burden light." Truth cannot lie; it is we who refuse to listen to it. We are ruled by the world, and so to hear humility spoken of is a "hard saying." But let us remember that it is a "true saying." For if we are not humble we cannot be saved.

Great is the kingdom to which we aspire, says St. Augustine; but humble is the way which leads to it: "Excelsa est patria, humilis est via." Of what use is our longing for Paradise if we will not walk in the path of humility which is the only way that leads to it? "Why does he seek his native land who refuses to follow the way that leads to it." [Tract. 78]
"So let us be confident, let us not be unprepared, let us not be outflanked, let us be wise, vigilant, fighting against those who are trying to tear the faith out of our souls and morality out of our hearts, so that we may remain Catholics, remain united to the Blessed Virgin Mary, remain united to the Roman Catholic Church, remain faithful children of the Church."- Abp. Lefebvre
Thoughts and Sentiments on Humility - Part 15

65. When I consider the words which Jesus Christ addressed to His heavenly Father in prayer, saying that He did not pray for the world," I pray not for the world" [John xviii, 9]-----and again that, when praying for His disciples that His prayer might be more efficacious, He emphasized the fact that they were not followers of the world, "They are in the world, but they are not of the world"-----I confess that no words of our Saviour in the whole Gospel terrify me more than these. For I perceive that it is necessary for me to separate myself from the world, so that Jesus Christ may intercede for me. And if I am a lover of the world, I shall be excommunicated by Jesus Christ and shall have no part in His intercessions and prayers. These are the words of Christ Himself: "I pray not for the world, but for those who are not of the world."

Let us really understand these words: that Jesus Christ excludes us from His kingdom if we belong to the world, that is to say if we wish to follow the maxims of the world which are nothing but vanity and deceit and fill man with pride; the maxims of the world which the prophet says "turn aside the way of the humble." [Amos ii, 7] Meanwhile Jesus Christ is our advocate with the Father in so far as, renewing our Baptismal vow, we renounce the world and accept the maxims of the Gospel which are true and tend to make man humble. To serve both God and the world is impossible, because we could never please both-----"he will hold to the one and despise the other." [Luke xvi, 13]

To pretend to serve God and the world is the same as to imagine that we can be both humble and proud at the same time. Vain dream!

66. The most familiar meditation which the seraphic St. Francis was in the habit of making was this, first he elevated his thoughts to God and then turned them towards himself: "My God," he would exclaim, "Who art Thou? and who am I?" And raising his thoughts first to the greatness and infinite goodness of God he would then descend to consider his own misery and vileness. And thus ascending and descending this scale of thought from the greatness of God down to his own nothingness the seraphic Saint would pass whole nights in meditation, practising in this exercise a real, true, sublime and profound humility, like the Angels seen by Jacob in his sleep on that ladder of mystical perfection "ascending and descending by it." [Gen. xxviii, 12]

This should be our model that we may not err in the exercise of humility. To fix our thoughts solely on our own wretchedness might cause us to fall into self-distrust and despair, and in the same way to fix our thoughts solely on the contemplation of the Divine goodness might cause us to be presumptuous and rash. True humility lies between the two: "Humility," says St. Thomas, "checks presumption and strengthens the soul against despair." [2a 2æ<>, qu. clxi, art. 1 ad 3]

Distrust yourself and confide in God, and thus distrusting and thus confiding, between fear and hope, you shall work out your salvation in the spirit of the Gospel. We should first reflect upon the infinite mercy of God, so as to excite our hope, as King David did: "Thy mercy is before my eyes," and we should then reflect on His justice, so as to keep ourselves in the fear thereof: "O Lord, I will be mindful of Thy justice alone." [Ps. lxx, 16] And also in turning our thoughts to ourselves we should first reflect upon man as being the work of God created to His image and likeness, so as to give God the glory; then we should reflect upon the sinner in man which is our work and which ought to make us deeply dejected. "Man and sin," say St. Augustine, "are as it were two distinct things. What savours of man God made, what savours of the sinner man made himself. Destroy what man has made that God may save what He has made." [Tract xii, in 10]

67. Self-knowledge is a great help for acquiring humility; but in the midst of the many passions, faults and vices of which we are aware, to recognize our own pride is the most useful of all. For this vice is the most shameful of all, and even in our confessions it is more difficult for us to say truthfully: "I accuse myself of being proud and of not trying seriously to correct this fault" than to accuse ourselves of many other sins. This knowledge of our pride is most humiliating; for where certain other vices may be pitied and excused for some reason or other, pride can never be pitied or excused, being a sin which is diabolical and odious not only to God but to men-----as the inspired word says: "Pride is hateful before God and men." [Ecclus. x, 7]
Let us therefore examine ourselves daily on this point; let us accuse ourselves of it in our confessions; and acknowledging our pride in this manner will be an excellent incentive to become humble. Let us pray to Jesus Christ that He may do for us as He did for the blind man whom He healed, and ask Him to put the mud of pride upon our eyes so that we may be made to see. Let us say to God: "Thou art my God, that God Who 'raiseth up the needy from the earth and lifteth up the poor out of the dunghill,' [Ps. cxii, 7] grant that this pride which is my great sin may through Thee serve as an instrument by which I may attain to a virtuous humility!"

68. Let us consider the things of this world in which we are apt to take a vain delight. Onc may pride himself on his robust health and bodily strength, another on the science, knowledge, eloquence andother gifts that he has acquired through study and art. Another prides himself upon his wealth and possessions; another upon his nobility and rank; another upon his moral virtues, or other virtues which bring him spiritual grace and perfection : but must not all these gifts be regarded as so many benefits proceeding from God, for which we must render an account if we do not use them to resist temptation and conform to the ordination of God? We are debtors to God for every benefit that we receive, and are bound to employ these gifts and to trade with them for the glory of God like merchants to whom capital is entrusted. When we consider how many benefits, both of body and soul, we have received from Him, we are compelled to admit that there are so many debts which we have contracted towards Him, and why should we glory in our debts?

No prudent merchant, if he has large debts, would go and proclaim the fact in the marketplace and thereby lose his credit; and how can we expect to gain credit by boasting of the many debts we owe to God? Debts so heavy that we run the risk of becoming bankrupt on that day when our Lord and Master will say: "Pay what thou owest." [Matt. viii, 28]

From the benefits we receive of God we should learn lessons of humility rather than of pride, following the teaching of St. Gregory: "The more strict the account that a man sees he must give of his duties, the more humble should he be in the performance of them,". [Hom. ix in Evang.] Our desire to boast of the favours we have received of God only demonstrates our ingratitude, and we have more cause to humble ourselves for being ungrateful than to glory in the benefits thus bestowed upon us.
"So let us be confident, let us not be unprepared, let us not be outflanked, let us be wise, vigilant, fighting against those who are trying to tear the faith out of our souls and morality out of our hearts, so that we may remain Catholics, remain united to the Blessed Virgin Mary, remain united to the Roman Catholic Church, remain faithful children of the Church."- Abp. Lefebvre
Thoughts and Sentiments on Humility - Part 16

69. The true reason for which God bestows so many graces upon the humble is this, that the humble are faithful to these graces and make good use of them. They receive them from God, and use them in a manner pleasing to God, giving all the glory to Him without reserving any for themselves. This is like the faithful steward who appropriates nothing that belongs to his master; and thus deserves that praise and reward given to the fai thful servant mentioned in the Gospel: "Well done, thou good and faithful servant,because thou hast been faithful over a few things I will place thee over many things." [Matt. xxv, 21]

O my soul, how dost thou stand in regard to this faithfulness towards God? Art thou not like those servants to whom their master daily entrusts money now to buy one thing, now another, and who each time keep back a small coin for themselves, until little by little they become unfaithful servants and great thieves? In like manner, our pride renders us unfaithful servants when we attribute to ourselves that praise which is due only to a gift that is entrusted to us by God and which ought to be ascribed unreservedly to Him.

O Lord, Thou seest all my thefts and I am overwhelmed with astonishment that Thou dost still trust me! Considering my unfaithfulness I am not worthy of the smallest grace, but make me humble and I shall also be faithful.

It is certainly true that he who is humble is also faithful to God; because the humble man is also just in giving to all their due, and above all in rendering to God the things that are God's, that is, in giving Him the glory for all the good that he is, all the good that he has and for all the good that he does; as the Venerable Bede says: "Whatever good we see in ourselves let us ascribe it to God and not to ourselves." [ Apud D. Th. in Cat. to 5]

70. To give thanks to God for all the blessings we have received and are continually receiving is an excellent means of exercising humility, because by thanksgiving we learn to acknowledge the Supreme Giver of every good: and for this reason it is necessary for us always to be humble before God. St. Paul exhorts us to render thanks for all things and at all times: "In all things give thanks"; [1 Thess. v, 18] "Giving thanks always for all things." [Ephes. v, 20] But that our thanksgiving may be an act of humility it must not only come from the lips but from the heart with a firm conviction that all good comes to us through the infinite mercy of God. Look at a beggar who has received a considerable gift from a rich man, with what warmth he expresses his gratitude! He is astonished that the rich man should have deigned to bestow a gift upon him, protesting that he is unworthy of it, and that he receives it, not through hisown merit, but through the noble kindness of the giver, to whom he will always be most grateful. He speaks from his heart because he knows his own miserable condition of poverty and the benign condescension of the rich man. And should the thanks we give to God be less than the thanks which are given from man to man? When one man can thus thank another, ought we not to blush with shame that there should be men who feel more humility of heart towards their fellow-men than we do towards God?

O my God, I thank Thee with all my heart for these benefits which I have received through Thy goodness alone, which I have not deserved and for which I have never given Thee thanks till now! It was through pride that I failed to give Thee the thanks due to Thee, and it is through pride that I have enjoyed all Thy gifts as if I had not received them at Thy hands. I detest my pride, and with Thy help I will remember to give Thee thanks at all times and for all things: "I will bless the Lord at all times," [ Ps. xxxiii, 1] praise, bless and thank Thee for all Thy mercies for ever and ever: "The mercies of the Lord I will sing for ever." [Ps. lxxxviii, 1]

71. The important point is that our heart should be humble, because this is what Christ seeks in us above all things. It is useless to mend the case and hands of a watch unless we also adjust the wheels and works, and in the same way it is useless for anyone to be modest in attire and bearing if there be no true humility in the heart.

We ought to apply our Saviour's sayings to ourselves: "Thou blind Pharisee, first make clean the inside of the cup and of the dish, that the outside may become clean," [Matt. xxiii, 6] and learn from the teaching of St. Thomas that "from our interior disposition of humility proceed signs in words, deed and manner by which that is manifested without, which is within." [2a 2æ, qu. clxi, art. 6]

I admit the truth of that which was so often repeated in Holy Writ, that humility is a special gift of God, and that no one can possess it of himself "except God gave it"; [Wisd. viii, 21] but at the tribunal of God there will be no excuse for us for not having possessed humility, because we have been taught that we could obtain it by persevering prayer, and, if we have not used this means to obtain it, it will be our fault that we have not asked God for it, and therefore our fault that we have not obtained it. Our Saviour in His Gospel says: "Ask and you shall receive." [John xvi, 24] If you want anything of Me, ask and you sha1l be heard. And can this virtue cost us less than the simple effort of asking it of God with great insistence? Therefore do not let us cease to ask for it and by the very method of obtaining it our hearts, our looks, our words, our movements, our bearing, and even our very thoughts will all be humble: "For from the heart come forth thoughts." [Matt. xv, 19]

72. We often lament that we are unable to pray because of the many distractions which hinder our recollection and dry up the source of devotion in our hearts, but in this we err and do not know what we are saying. The best prayer is not that in which we are most recollected and fervent, but that in which we are most humble; because it is written: "The prayer of him that humbleth himself shall pierce the clouds." [Ecclus. xxxv, 21] And what distractionsof mind and heart can prevent our exercising humility? It is precisely in those moments when we feel irritable and tepid that we ought to show our humility, and how? By saying: O Lord, I am not worthy to remain here speaking to Thee so confidentially, I do not deserve the grace of prayer because it is a special gift which Thou bestowest upon those dear to Thee. It is enough for me to be Thy servant, chasing away my distractions as so many flies. For flies do not fly round boiling water, but only round tepid water, and all these distractions arise from mygreat tepidity. Ah,what an excellent prayer! So prayed Joshua, and the Lord heard his prayer: "Thou hast humbled thyself in the sight of God; I also have heard thee, saith the l.ord." [2 Paral. xxxiv, 27] So prayed King David too in the anguish of his soul and was delivered: "I was humbled and He delivered me." [Ps. cxiv, 6] The more the soul exalts itself and takes pleasure in its own meditation, so much the more does God exalt Himself above that soul and remains apart from it. "Man shall come to a deep heart and God shall be exalted." [Ps. lxiii, 8] Do we desire that God in His mercy should come nigh to us? Let us humble ourselves. "Dost thou wish God to draw near to thee?" says St. Augustine, "humble thyself, for the more thou raisest thyself, the more will He be above thee." [Enarr. in Ps. cxli]

73. Many people, when preparing for confession, distress themselves because they do not feel sufficient contrition for their sins; and in order to obtain it they beat their breasts to try and excite themselves to feelings of sorrow. But this is pride, for they give us to understand that they can thus obtain contrition of themselves. You desire true sorrow for you sins? Then be assured that this is a singular gift of God, and that to obtain it there is no better means than to humble oneself before Him.
"So let us be confident, let us not be unprepared, let us not be outflanked, let us be wise, vigilant, fighting against those who are trying to tear the faith out of our souls and morality out of our hearts, so that we may remain Catholics, remain united to the Blessed Virgin Mary, remain united to the Roman Catholic Church, remain faithful children of the Church."- Abp. Lefebvre
Thoughts and Sentiments on Humility - Part 17

Humility generates confidence, and God never refuses His grace to those who come to Him with humility and trust. Say therefore to God: I can remain here as long as I like and do all that I can to obtain sorrow for my sins, but it is impossible for me to attain to it of myself, if Thou dost not grant it to me, O my God! I do not deserve it, but Jesus Christ has merited it for me, and it is through His merits that I ask it, and through Thy infinite goodness that I hope to obtain it.

Place yourself in this humble disposition of mind and you will be happy, for it is written of God: that "He comforteth the humble"; [2 Cor. vii, 6] "and He hath had regard to the prayer of the humble and hath not despised their petition." [Ps. ci, 18] This sorrow or contrition by which the soul is sanctified is one of the greatest graces that God can give us, and it would be presumption, temerity, and pride on our part to pretend to this grace without having asked for it with due humility.

74. A doubt may arise in our mind that since to obtain the grace of humility we must ask it of God, and ask it with humility if we wish God to hear our prayer, how can we possibly ask with humility since it is precisely that humility which we have not and for which we are asking? Do not let us lose ourselves in such speculations, which are useless in practice, since "Simplicity of heart is what the Lord desires of us."
[Wisd. i, 1]

There are certain efficacious virtues that God has infused into our souls in holy Baptism, independently of our own dispositions, "principally by infusion in Baptism," says St. Thomas. Such, for example, is faith, and such also is that humility which is necessary for us so that we may believe and pray as we ought. Let us therefore exercise in our prayers this infused humility, and in making good use of it we shall in time acquire that other evangelical virtue which is necessary to our salvation and which can only be obtained by our own co-operation.

Prayer, says St. Augustine, is essentially the resource of him who knows that he is both poor and needy: "Prayer is only for the needy." ["Oratio non est nisi indigentium" (Enarr. in Ps. xxvi] Let us acknowledge and confess our poverty and indigence before God, and by this confession we shall exercise humility. The really poor do not need to be taught how to ask alms humbly. Necessity is their master, and if man can humble himself before man, why should he not also humble himself before God?

If we wish to discern what belongs to God and that which is our own, it is sufficient for us to reflect that by rendering to God all that is His, nothing is left to ourselves but nothingness. So that we can truly say with the prophet: "I am brought to nothing." [Ps. lxxii, 21] This is a true saying, that all that is within us that is more than nothingness belongs to God, and He can take away what is His when He chooses without doing us any wrong.

Therefore in what can we pride ourselves, since God can take anything away from us the moment that we begin to glory in it?

For he who glories in his wealth may soon become poor; he who glories in his health may suddenly become infirm; he who glories in his knowledge may suddenly become insane; he who glories in his holiness may suddenly fall into some great sin. What vanity, what folly, then, to glory in that which is not our own, nor even in our power to keep! "What hast thou that thou hast not received?" [1 Cor. iv, 7]

This reflection alone should suffice to make us humble, and it may be said that all true humility depends upon our persevering seriously in this thought. Oh, my soul, thou shalt be humbled when, as God says by the prophet, He will "separate the precious from the vile." [Jer. xv, 19] Thus the essence of humility consists in knowing how to discern rightly that which is mine, and that which belongs to God. All the good I do comes from God, and nothing belongs to me but my own nothingness. What was I in the abyss of eternity? A mere nothing. And what did I do of myself to emerge from that nothingness? Nothing. If God had not created me, where should I be? In nothingness. If God did not uphold me at every turn, whither should I return? Into nothingness. Therefore it is clear that I possess nothing of myself but nothingness. Even in my moral being I possess nothing but my own wickedness. When I do evil it is entirely my own work, when I do good it belongs to God alone. Evil is a work of my own wickedness; good is a work of God's mercy. In this way we separate the precious from the vile; this is the art of all arts, the science of sciences, and the wisdom of the Saints.

76. Let us imagine a man who possesses many beasts of burden which he has bought for the purpose of carrying such loads as he requires. The beasts are loaded, one with gold, one with books of philosophy, mathematics, theology and law, another with weapons, another with sacred vessels and vestments belonging to the Church, and another with reliquaries in which are precious relics of the Saints, and so on.

Now, if these animals could discourse among themselves, do you think that the one laden with gold would boast of his riches, and the one laden with books of his knowledge, and that in the same way the others would boast of bravery or of holiness according to the nature of their loads? Would not such pretensions be vain and ridiculous? Most certainly; for the rich and precious burdens borne by these animals belong to the master and not to the beast. For the master might have laden with dung the one he loaded with gold or other precious things, and being their owner he could unload each animal whenever he pleased, so that each one would appear before him as he is, namely, a vile beast of burden. Or, with St. Augustine, let us picture to ourselves the ass on which Jesus Christ sat when He was met by the multitude with their branches of palms, acclaiming Him with cries of: "Hosanna to the Son of David, Hosanna!" [Matt. xxi, 9] Who would be so foolish as to imagine that these honours were given to the beast? These praises were not given to the ass, but to Christ who was seated on the ass. "Was that ass to be praised? That ass was carrying some one, but He who was being carried was the one who was being praised." " [Enarr. in Ps. xxxiii].

Let us apply the simile to ourselves, saying, with David: "I am become as a beast before Thee." [Ps. lxxii, 22] and whatever may be the object of our pride let us use this simile to exercise ourselves in humility.

77. We may say with St. Thomas, [12, qu. iv, art. 2] that this craving of ours to be esteemed, respected and honoured is an effect of Original Sin, like concupiscence which remains to us even after our Baptism; but God has ordained that these appetites and desires should remain in us in order that we might have occasion of mortifying ourselves and that by such means we might gain the kingdom of Heaven.

We need not be astonished nor sad when we feel these instincts within us. They belong to the wickedness of our corrupt nature and are remnants of the temptation of our first parents by the serpent, when he said to them: "And you shall be as gods." [ Gen. iii, 5] Therefore I repeat that these desires which arise from the weakness and depravity of our human nature must be borne with patience. If these desires gain the mastery over us, it is because we have encouraged and given way to them; and a bad habit which we have formed ourselves can only be cured by ourselves, and therefore the mortification of the same also lies with us. This mortification of the senses, inspired by humility, is taught by Christ in the self-denial which He imposed upon us when He said: "If any man will follow Me) let him deny himself." [Matt. xvi, 24] And therefore I must draw this conclusion, that if I will not mortify myself with humility-----that is to say, crush my self-love and craving for esteem-----I shall be excluded as a follower of Jesus Christ, and by such an exclusion I shall also forfeit His grace and be eternally exiled from participating in His glory.

But in order to practice it, it is necessary for me to do violence to myself, as it is written: "The kingdom of heaven suffereth violence) and the violent bear it away." [Matt. xi, 12] Who can obtain salvation) except by doing violence to himself?

78. Let us listen at the gates of Hell and hear the lamentations of the eternally damned. They exclaim: "What hath pride profited us?" [Wisd. v, 8] What use or advantage was our pride to us? Everything passes and vanishes like a shadow, and of all those past evils nothing remains to us but the eternal shame of having been proud.

Their remorse is vain, because it is the remorse of despair. Therefore while there is still time let us consider the matter seriously, and say: "What advantage have I derived from all my pride? It makes me hateful to Heaven and earth, and if I do not insist upon mortifying it) it will make me odious to myself for all eternity in Hell." Let us lift up our eyes to Heaven, and, contemplating the Saints, exclaim: "Behold how their humility has profited them! Oh, how much glory have they gained by their humility!" Now, humility is looked upon as madness by the worldly, worthy only of scorn and derision; but a time will come when they will be obliged to recognize its virtue, and to exclaim, in seeing the glory of the humble: "Behold how they are numbered among the children of God." [Wisd. v, 5]

If I am humble, I shall be exalted with that glory to which God exalts the humble. O my God, humble this mad pride which predominates within me. "Thou shalt multiply strength in my soul," [Ps. cxxxvii, 3] for, "my strength hath left me." Ps. xxxvii, 11] And I will not and cannot do anything without Thy help. In Thee I place all my trust, and beseech Thee to help me. "But I am needy and poor; O God, help me. Thou art my helper and my deliverer: O Lord, make no delay." [Ps. lxix, 6]
"So let us be confident, let us not be unprepared, let us not be outflanked, let us be wise, vigilant, fighting against those who are trying to tear the faith out of our souls and morality out of our hearts, so that we may remain Catholics, remain united to the Blessed Virgin Mary, remain united to the Roman Catholic Church, remain faithful children of the Church."- Abp. Lefebvre

Forum Jump:

Users browsing this thread: 1 Guest(s)