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Saint Alphonsus on Humility  May 26, 2016

Posted by Tantumblogo in awesomeness, Basics, catachesis, General Catholic, Glory, Grace, Holy suffering, Interior Life, mortification, reading, Saints, sanctity, Tradition, Virtue.

Saint Alphonsus on humility, or, more specifically, the kind of humility we should be have if we would advance in virtue and be saved.  Saint Alphonsus says we should seek out humiliations and rejection by others in order to grow in perfection.  A tall order, perhaps the most contrary thing to our nature imaginable, but one supported by many other Saints.  I guess one way to put this into perspective would be to ask, what price eternity?

From The Holy Eucharist, pp. 361-2:

But it is not enough, in order to be humble, to have a lowly opinion of ourselves, and to consider ourselves the miserable beings that we really are; the man who is truly humble, says Thomas a Kempis, despises himself, and wishes also to be despised by others. [It’s a goal, not necessarily a command!] This is what Jesus Christ so earnestly recommends us to practice, after his example: “Learn of me, for I am meek and humble of heart” (Mt xi:29).  Whoever styles himself the greatest sinner in the world, and then is angry when others despise him, plainly shows humility of tongue, but not of heart.  St. Thomas Aquinas says, that a person who resents being slighted may be certain that he is far distant from perfection, even though he should work miracles.  The divine Mother sent St. Ignatius Loyola from Heaven to instruct St. Mary Magdalene of Pazzi in humility; and behold the lesson which the Saint gave her: “Humility is a gladness at whatever leads us to despise ourselves.” Mark well, a gladness; if the feelings are stirred with resentment at the contempt we receive, at least let us be glad in spirit.

And how is it possible for a soul not to love contempt, if she loves Jesus Christ, and beholds how her God was buffeted and spit upon, and how He suffered in His Passion!  Then did they spit in his face and buffeted Him; and others struck His face with the palms of their hand (Mt xxvi:67).  For this purpose our Redeemer wishes us to keep his image exposed on our altars, not indeed representing Him in glory, but nailed to the cross, that we might have his ignominies constantly before our eyes; a sight which made the Saints rejoice at being vilified in this world.  And such was the prayer which St. John of the Cross addressed to Jesus Christ, when He appeared to him with the Cross upon His shoulders: “O Lord, let me suffer, and be despised for Thee!” My Lord, on beholding Thee so reviled for my love, I only ask of Thee to let me suffer and be despised for Thy love.

St. Francis de Sales said, “To support injuries is the touchstone of humility and of true virtue.” If a person pretending to spirituality practices prayer, frequent Communion, fasts, and mortifies himself, and yet cannot put up with an affront, or a biting word, of what is it a sign?  It is a sign that he is a hollow cane, without humility and without virtue.  And what indeed can a soul do that loves Jesus Christ, if she is unable to endure a slight for the love of Jesus Christ, who has endured so much for her?  Thomas a Kempis, in his golden little book of the Imitation of Christ, writes as follows: “Since you have such an abhorrence of being humbled, it is a sign that you are not dead to the world, have no humility, and that you do not keep God before your eyes. He that has not God before his eyes, is disturbed at every syllable of censure that he hears.” Thou canst not endure cuffs and blows for God; endure at least a passing word.

———–End Quote————

As I said, there is little that could be more contrary to human nature than bearing with slights and insults with complete humility – but it is the example our Blessed Lord gives us.  I pray for the strength to deal with contradiction with much greater equanimity and peace of soul.  That’s not something I’m very good at.

This Faith of ours, because of our fallen natures, may be simple, in a sense, but it is certainly not easy.  May God have mercy on us and patience with us in our struggles towards perfection, from which I feel a long, long ways.



1. Brian E. Breslin - May 27, 2016

Ah geez, Tantum, join the club. But you keep praying for us and know well we will pray for you and yours down there.
Hey, by the way, notice whom was sent by the Blessed Mother on that special mission to Magdalena de Pazzi! I know many of your readers can’t stand the Jebbies, but I’m telling you Our Lord will smarten them up and use them to help bring His Church back from the brink- not in this Papacy, but take heart- it’ll happen.

Tantumblogo - May 27, 2016

I’d love for the Jesuits to be reformed and restored to the founding glory. i think it’s going to be a while, though……

2. Brian E. Breslin - May 27, 2016

My saintly brother Kevin, who spent only four years with the Jebbies and not the eight I did, assures me it was St. Aloysius Gonzaga who appeared to St. Magdalena de Pazzi. He knows his history better than I so I will go with his version.

Tantumblogo - May 27, 2016

I really don’t know. I just copy whats in the book.

3. Karie Mitchell - May 27, 2016

This is where I become confused. Am I not supposed to be a delight to my husband and children? Or are these words meant for relationships outside immediate family and close friends? I have always found these directives confusing, as well as those who take upon themselves punishments of the body that seem so severe. I know they are done with great love and often those who punished their bodies lived during times when suffering was part of daily life (no analgesics or antibiotics, etc.) But I have a hard time understanding cultivating humiliations to be more humble. How are you to do that if you are “protected” from such things?

Baseballmom - May 27, 2016

Karie, I think you have great questions that go beyond the scope of a comment box. Do you know a good and faithful priest or religious? Or even an older woman who you could speak with? I think it would be a great blessing for you to do that…. As I always say, my 2 cents – take it or toss it…. 😀. And prayers for you and your dear family.

Tantumblogo - May 27, 2016

Your question is appreciated. In fact, it makes me think I need to be more careful in the excerpts I choose. You have to understand, St. Alphonsus’ writings were directed to religious of his order. I should have taken more time to explain the context of the excerpt, and how it’s application must be tempered by our state in life and good common sense. As BBM said, without knowing sufficient detail of your state in life and situation, it would be a dereliction on my part to try to give you advice. So I do think if you have concerns about the right degree of humility to practice, to take it up with a good priest/spiritual director. Easy to say, they are rarer than hen’s teeth. I can only recommend a few and they are mostly in Texas.

4. Baseballmom - May 27, 2016

Always appreciate these so much. Thank you.

5. Some considerations on the practice of virtue for the lay person | A Blog for Dallas Area Catholics - June 1, 2016

[…] few days ago I posted some excerpts from St. Alphonsus Liguori on the subject of humility.  A commenter left a very thoughtful comment that I felt merited a […]

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