The following quotes are from letters to the Commandeur de Sillery, Noel Brulart, and from the litany for humility. References to Father refer to Francis de Sales.
For me, when I think on the matters of pride and humility, with their embedded concepts of being honored, being despised, being consulted, being ridiculed, I see all of these siding off against each other and going at their opposite with a sword. A long sword. A sharp sword.
For me, pride and humility are very, very serious matters. I’m not sure why, exactly, but at the base of this seriousness is the feeling that since I work on my relationship with God that I should be honored just for that alone.
From the desire of being honored, deliver me, Jesus.
To be honest, I don’t know what I fight more aggressively for: the right to be proud of who I am, or the right to be denigrated for who I am. And, in the end, just how proud am I of myself when I denigrate myself?
It’s a puzzle. But, for me, it’s a fierce puzzle.
All that remains, then, as our blessed Father would say, is to humble yourself profoundly under God’s holy hand, to let yourself be led in the way of His good pleasure and, following that same good pleasure, to offer no resistance to whatever He may wish to do with you and to correspond to His grace by fidelity to the opportunities presented to you by Providence.
Humility, to Jane, is not the result of a battle, but, instead, it is just a following. No matter where it leads you. Just follow. No resistance.
God wants you to temper your overeagerness by calming all this ardor, reducing it to a simple assent of your will to do good quietly — and only because it is God’s will. In the same way, yield lovingly to this divine will when it allows you to fail to perform some good deed or to commit some fault. Resign yourself to not being able to resign yourself as completely and utterly as you would like, or as you thing our Lord would like.
Humility is a virtue. In my book, literally, that makes it a sword of God: something we can use to advance our cause, to raise up when faced with spittle and, essentially, in the end, to show off.
From the desire of being praised, deliver me, Jesus.
Isn’t humility, then, one of the paths to spiritual perfection? So how then are we to yield to failure?
I think that you could not do better than to avoid all introspection as far as possible. Instead of being preoccupied with weighty thoughts, just gaze at God and let Him do what He wills — these are the words of our blessed Father — because since our divine savior is the only object of your love and aspiration, and the sole comfort of your dear, beloved heart, you will find in Him all you need.
But isn’t that what we are, after all, weighty thinkers? And for that, aren’t we most proud?
When you find yourself committing some fault or other, just humble yourself quietly before God by a simple acknowledgement of the fault, and think no more about it.
Simplicity. Stillness. Serenity.
God is more pleased when we value our uselessness and weakness out of love and reverence for His holy will, than when we do violence to ourselves and perform great works of penance.
Yes, but great works of penance are things for which we can be very, very proud.
There is this whisper in Salesian theology that God’s love for us is first and foremost, gentle. And all we have to do is be gentle in return to find our true relationship with God.
Sometimes when our Lord asks us to do some good work, all He really wants is our willingness to do the work, and not is accomplishment.
Willingness I associate with obedience. I call it the key to obedience, in fact. So perhaps, when we are gentle in our obedience to God we are being truly humble.
Our blessed Father wished us to be courageous in our undertakings, and flexible in letting them go when God, in His good pleasure, indicated that we should.
Perhaps that is the true definition of humility: letting go.