jump to navigation

Humility the basis of the spiritual life March 24, 2014

Posted by Tantumblogo in awesomeness, Basics, catachesis, General Catholic, Glory, Grace, Interior Life, mortification, religious, Saints, sanctity, Tradition, true leadership, Victory.

One of my goals during Lent was to try to make the blog less topical and less scandal-oriented, and to focus on what I hope are non-controversial aspects of the practice of the interior life.  I know I have not succeeded terribly well in that goal, the whole Fisher-More thing blew up and there have been other deviations into matters of scandal.  But the great DivineOffice-Magnificat1thing about Lent is that we have 6 weeks to try, try again.  I may fly off the handle this afternoon, but for now, even as I watch my traffic plummet, I’ll try to stick to material that I hope holds unassailable benefit for souls.

I plan – God willing – on doing a series of posts from Divine Intimacy on the great virtue of humility this week. Humility is not something that happens accidentally, or comes from a solitary conversion experience (save for a few extraordinary cases).  Humility is hard work, and extremely counter to our natures and the culture that surrounds us.  Day 106, Humility:

Charity is the essence of Christian perfection, for charity alone has the power to unite man to God, his last end.  But for us poor, miserable creatures, whom God wishes to raise to union with Himself, is 461893106charity the ultimate basis of the spiritual life? No. There is something deeper still which is, so to speak, the basis of charity, and that is humility.  Humility is to charity what the foundation is to a building.  Digging the foundation is not building the house, yet it is the preliminary, indispensable work, the condition sine qua non.  The deeper and firmer it is, the better the house will be and the greater assurance of stability it will have. Only the fool “built his house upon the sand,” with the inevitable consequence of seeing it crubmel away very son. The wise man, on the contrary, “built……upon a rock” (Mt VII:24-26); storms and winds might threaten, but his house was unshakable because its foundation was solid.

Humility is the firm bedrock upon which every Christian should build the edifice of his spiritual life. “If you wish to lay good foundations,” says St. Teresa of Jesus to her daughters, “each of you must try to be the least of all” that is, you must practice humility.  “If you do that……your foundation will be so firmly laid that your Castle will not fail”nla (Interior Castle, VII, 4). Humility forms the foundation of charity by emptying the soul of pride, arrogance, disordered love of self and of one’s own excellence, and by replacing them with the love of God and our neighbor.  

The more humility empties the soul of the vain, proud pretenses of self, the more room there will be for God. “When at last [the spiritual man] comes to be reduced to nothing, which will be the greatest extreme of humility, spiritual union will be wrought between the soul and god” (St. Juan de la Cruz, Ascent of Mt. Carmel, 7, 11).

The soul who desires to reach the sublime heights of union with God must walk in the path of profound humility, for as the Divine Master taught, only “the that humbleth himself shall be exalted” (Lk Nun_prayingXVIII:14).

The higher the ideal of sanctity to which we aspire, the more sublime the end toward which we tend, the more we will have to descend and excavate in ourselves the fertile abyss of humility. “Abyssus abyssum invocat” (Ps XLIV:8); the abyss of humility calls to the abyss of infinite mercy, of Grace, and of the divine Gifts, for “God resisteth the proud, but to the humble He giveth Grace” (1 Pt V:5). We must humble ourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, sincerely recognize our nothingness, take account of our poverty; and if we wish to glorify ourselves, we must glory, like St. Paul, solely in our infirmities. It is only in our weakness, humbly acknowledged, that Grace and Divine Virtue work and triumph (cf 2 COR XII:9). Even if we are of the number of those good souls who sincerely desire to advance on the road to perfection, but who are relying too much on their own powers and personal initiative, we can apply to ourselves to great advantage the valuable warning that St. Therese of the Child Jesus gave a novice: “I see clearly that you are taking the wrong road; you will never reach the end of your journey.  You 831acf538213455fd7d2067308224cefwant to scale a mountain, and the good God wills to make you descend….It is Jesus who takes upon Himself to fill your soul according as you ride it of imperfections.” (St. Therese of the Child Jesus, Counsels and Souvenirs? [I do not know what this reference is. I can not find it] ). [The guidance given here is tremendous. There is a great temptation that many faithful Catholics fall into which combines a certain pride and self-reliance.  Because we have the Traditional Mass, because we have recourse to great confessors, because we avail ourselves of the Sacraments often, we may begin to think that we are holy, or that we are doing good things of our own. But any good we do is, first off, mere cooperation with Grace. We cannot do any good absent Grace.  Furthermore, and proud thoughts along this line just steer us away from the true practice of virtue and are of course deadly to humility.  There thCAJTQQISis a certain paradox, in order to ascend, we must descend, meaning, we must die to ourselves and the world and let God (Grace) work in us, to mold us into the creatures of virtue and light He so desires us to be.  This is a trap that many fall into, thinking they are doing very well when in actuality some secret (or not so secret) pride is robbing them of all the great Graces they should be accumulating and cooperating with.  The point is, we can’t save ourselves. All we can do is cooperate with Grace, but it is soooo easy to forget that the virtue we practice, the fast we perform, isn’t really “us,” it’s God, working through us.]

The sublime ideal of union with God totally exceeds our capacities, which are those of weak creatures.  If we aspire to it, it is not because we expect to reach it by our own efforts and initiative, but because we trust that God Himself, according to His promise, will come and lead us by the hand. But God will not act thus with a proud soul. He stoops only to the humble; the more lowly He finds a soul, the closer He draws it to Himself. Humility deepens the soul’s capacity to receive the fullness of Divine Gifts. 

[St. Therese of the Child Jesus] “Oh my God, You make me realize how far I must descend in order that my heart may serve as a dwelling place for You; I must become so poor that I have no place whereon to lay my head. My heart is not wholly emptied of self, and that is why You order me to descend. Oh! I want to descend much lower, so that You will be able to rest Your Divine Head in my heart, and know that there You are loved and understood.  O sweet, Divine Guest, You know my misery; that is why You come to me in the hope of finding an empty tabernacle, a heart wholly emptied of self. This is all You ask.”

One of the most glorious Saints in the history of the Church, humbly scrubbing clothes on her knees, with a small smile on her face.  Greatness.

One of the most glorious Saints in the history of the Church, humbly scrubbing clothes on her knees, with a small smile on her face. Greatness.




1. M.P. - March 24, 2014

I also read Divine Intimacy. And I am pleased that you are posting items that edify and not falling into the finger pointing waste of time items that seem to be consuming other bloggers.

2. Baseballmom - March 24, 2014

These posts are very helpful. Thanks!

3. St Maravillas21 - March 24, 2014

Reblogged this on Carmel, Garden of God.

4. maggycast - March 24, 2014

Great post for Lent! Yes, I find myself struggling with the spiritual drug of pride too. Enjoyed reading St. Thomas Aquinas’ writings on it too…he said something about humility is not stepping out of your natural bounds i.e. knowing your place. Our lost culture places people as gods….I know I did…everything was below me. But my right place spiritually was looking up. I was at the bottom…looking up at the majesty of God. That’s my place…and I’m fine with it…for the saints are right…it fills up with God and brings peace and sanity. God bless~

5. Fr Anselm Marie - March 25, 2014

In the seventh chapter of his Holy Rule, Saint Benedict describes a “twelve step program” of humility. (The “steps” or “degrees” are an allegory to the rungs on Jacob’s ladder.)

In consonance with the author of Divine Intimacy and the saintly Carmelites from whom he draws such great wisdom, Saint Benedict affirms that charity must be grounded in humility: “Having ascended all these degrees of humility, the monk will presently arrive at that love of God, which being perfect, casteth out fear. In virtue of this love all things which at first he observed not without fear, he will now begin to keep without any effort, and as it were, naturally by force of habit, no longer from the fear of hell, but from the love of Christ, from the very habit of good and the pleasure in virtue.”

Sorry comments are closed for this entry

%d bloggers like this: