Humility

FAITH: Growth Through Humility by The Venerable Bede, Priest and Confessor

February 23, 2017

And it came to pass that there met him ten men that were lepers. They may well be described as lepers who, while having no true knowledge of the faith, profess a variety of heretical teachings. For such people do not hide their ignorance, but proclaim it as the height of learning; priding themselves on what they have to say. There is no false doctrine in which some truth is not mingled. True doctrine therefore mixed without order with what is false, in a man’s discussion or conversation, and showing like the colors in a body, resemble the leprosy that spots and blemishes the human body with patches of true and false color. Such persons are to be excluded from the church so that, if it is possible, placed afar off they may with a loud [...]

FORGIVENESS: Humility, or The Tale of the Two Shawls

February 18, 2017

I have been studying what I thought was a “new” form of evil.  New to me, that is. Turns out, though, I studied it for years when I was half my age. Because it was only a study back then, and because the study was very intense, it left some terror in my soul. I’m very efficient about my emotions: if I don’t need them right here, right now for whatever it is I am doing, then they get stowed away. This terror had been stowed away – very much out of sight, out of mind – until the door was flung open and there it was. And here this study is again now. But what I realized was that when I had studied this particular form of evil, I had never come up with the understanding of what kind of spiritual weapon would be [...]

HUMILITY: On How Our Lord Went On Monday To Preach In The Temple, Where He Praised The Poor Widow’s Offering, And Returned To Bethany In The Evening, by Isabel de Villena

February 16, 2017

From Vita Christi Our merciful Lord, realizing that his mission was coming to an end, and that the term of his life would soon be over, with courageous spirit forced himself to preach, going every day from Bethany to Jerusalem, presenting himself at the temple, and proclaiming his divine teaching to those who wished to hear it.  Even so, ill will was already to widespread among the entire people that very few wished to hear him, but rather they fled from any location where His Majesty was, feeling deeply ashamed to have his friendship. And, therefore, the holy Apostles and all the others who followed him at that time are fittingly exalted and deservingly rewarded, for great love and faith must have kept them steadfast while they saw Our [...]

HUMILITY: The Widow’s Mite, by A Sister of Mercy

February 14, 2017

From: Contemplations and Meditations on the Public Life of Our Lord Jesus Christ: According to the Method of St. Ignatius; Revised by W. J. Amherst And Jesus, sitting over against the treasury, beheld how the people cast money therein, and many that were rich cast in much. And there came a certain poor widow, and she cast in two mites. And, calling his disciples together, he saith to them : Amen, I say to you, this poor widow hath cast in more than all they who have cast into the treasury. For they did cast in of their abundance; but she of her want hath cast in all she had, even her whole living. (Mark 12: 41-44) Preparatory Prayer: Grant, O my God, that during this meditation all my actions, all my intentions, and all the operations of [...]

PRAYER: A Scriptural Rosary Novena Of Meditations On Humility

February 14, 2017

From Scriptural Rosary First Day — Matthew 7:1-5 Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye. Second Day — Matthew 11:25-30 At that time Jesus answered and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of Heaven and Earth, because thou hast hid these [...]

PRAYER: Litany For Humility

February 13, 2017

From: Our Catholic Prayers (First published on The Value of Sparrows on April 16, 2012.) The litany of humility, for private devotions, is a moving prayer that can bring us closer to Christ. Do you worry constantly about what others think of you? Do you feel empty or frustrated if you’re not the center of attention? The litany of humility asks for our Lord’s assistance in humbly following in his footsteps and casting aside, or at least offering up to him, all those nagging doubts and fears that come with our self-centeredness. Our Lord asks us in Matthew’s gospel to learn from him, “for I am meek and humble of heart,” as he is described in the first line of this prayer below. We ask in this litany, composed by Rafael Cardinal [...]

ADVENT WITH EVELYN UNDERHILL: Humility

December 3, 2016

From The Fruits of the Spirit Humility and moderation at the heart of our prayer quiet the soul and protect us against the spiritual itch.  It sometimes comes into my head, says De Caussade, to wonder whether I have ever properly confessed my sins, whether God has ever forgiven me my sins, whether I am in a good or bad spiritual state.  What progress have I made in prayer or in the interior life?  When this happens I say to myself at once, God has chosen to hide all this from me, so that I may just blindly abandon myself to his mercy.  So I submit myself and adore his decision.  He is the Master: may all that he wills be accomplished in me; I want no grace, no merit, no perfection but that which shall please him.  His will alone [...]

PRAYER: A New Serenity Prayer, by James Martin

July 2, 2015

God, grant me the serenity to accept the people I cannot change, which is pretty much everyone, since I’m clearly not you, God. At least not the last time I checked. And while you’re at it, God, please give me the courage to change what I need to change about myself, which is frankly a lot, since, once again, I’m not you, which means I’m not perfect. It’s better for me to focus on changing myself than to worry about changing other people, who, as you’ll no doubt remember me saying, I can’t change anyway. Finally, give me the wisdom to just shut up whenever I think that I’m clearly smarter than everyone else in the room, that no one knows what they’re talking about except me, or that I alone have all the answers. [...]

LENT: Meekness, Temperance, by Evelyn Underhill

March 28, 2015

From The Fruits of the Spirit “Though I give my body to be burned,” said Saint Paul, “and have not love, I am nothing.”  I do not as a supernatural being exist.  And now he gives us another and much more surprising test of spiritual vitality.  Though you feel an unconquerable love, joy, and peace, though you are gentle, long-suffering, good in all your personal relationships, though you are utterly faithful in your service of God – in the end the only proof that all this is truly the fruit of the Spirit, Christ in you and not just your own idea, is the presence of the last two berries on the bunch: not showy berries, not prominently placed, but absolutely decisive for the classification of the plant. [...]

LENT: Keep Water Over The Door Of My Lips, by Lois M. Farag

March 7, 2015

From Balance of the Heart The Tongue, Slander, Silence, and Judgment Set a guard over my mouth, O Lord; keep watch over the door of my lips. (Psalm 141:3) James in his epistle discusses the threat of the tongue.  The tongue is as treacherous as a fire in a forest: once the fire ignites it takes a long time to control, and even if it is controlled, there is always damage.  James also says that the tongue “stains the whole body.”  The stain is a sign that the body has become impure.  The tongue is hard to control or “tame” and is “a restless evil full of deadly poison.”  What is even worse, the tongue curses “those who are made in the likeness of God.”  This is a very scary depiction of [...]

WAR AND PEACE: On Peace, by Smaragdus of Saint- Mihiel

June 30, 2014

From The Crown of Monks None exalt themselves more with God than those who for God’s sake humble themselves in their own estimation.  The humble are exalted by God so as to be called children of God and heirs of Christ.  Only let them pursue peace, because the children of peace must seek and pursue peace. This is the thrust of the apostle’s admonition when he says, Pursue peace with everyone, and the holiness without which no one will see God. (Hebrews 12:14)  The Lord himself also says in the gospel: Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. (Matthew 5:9)  Among his divine commands and saving teachings, when he was very near his passion, the Savior entrusted this precept and commandment to [...]

PRAYER: Listening by Murray Bodo

June 5, 2014

From Song of the Sparrow The art of listening.  How hard it is to cultivate.  We seem to be able to listen to others only so long before we start talking ourselves, usually about ourselves.  It is that way with prayer, too.  The hardest part is the listening, the quiet, the patience it takes to be still and wait upon God.  We always want to start talking, and yet what more can we say beyond the words Christ gave us in the “Our Father”?  If we spent time in prayer saying the “Our Father” once and then listening for the remainder of the time we set aside for prayer, it would be one of the best disciplines possible in learning to pray.  But we are uncomfortable with silence, with waiting for the other to speak. [...]

LENTEN FIRE: March 14

March 14, 2013

From Becoming Fire: Through the Year with the Desert Fathers and Mothers  Dress like the tax collector Abba Evagrius said: “I visited Abba Macarius and said to him, ‘Tell me a word so I may live.’ He said to me, ‘If I speak to you, will you listen and do it?’ I said to him, ‘My faith and my love are not hidden from you.’ Abba Macarius said to me, ‘Truly I lack the adornment of virtue; you, however are good.  But if you cast of the pridefulness of this world’s rhetoric and clothe yourself in the humility of the tax collector, (Luke 18:9-14), you will live.'” Friends indeed A brother in a monastery was falsely accused of fornication and he arose and went to Abba Antony.  The [...]

LENTEN FIRE: March 11

March 11, 2013

From Becoming Fire: Through the Year with the Desert Fathers and Mothers  Being a witness for God Question: I want to be a witness for God. Answer: If someone bears with his neighbor during a fit of temper, it is equal to the furnace at the time of the three youth. (Daniel 3) The tunic and the patch A brother asked Abba Macarius, “My father, how can a person be free from the passions and be renewed in the Spirit?” The old man said to him, “I will give you an analogy. (1 Corinthians 13:12)  It is like a tunic: if it is torn, a patch is put on it until it is made new once again.  The tunic can be compared to the body, torn by sin and pleasure.  the patch is the repentance that our Lord Jesus Christ gives to [...]

SERMON: The Spirit Of Prayer, by Francis de Sales

March 10, 2013

We have not to speak of the efficient cause of prayer.  It is necessary for us to know, then, who can and who ought to pray.  The question would soon be decided were we to say that all can pray and that all ought to do so.  But in order the better to satisfy the mind, we shall treat this subject at greater length. In the first place we must realize that God cannot pray at all, since prayer is a petition which is made by grace and requires that we know that we are in need of something, for we are not accustomed to ask for that which we already possess.  Well, God can ask for nothing through grace, but rather, he does everything by divine authority.  Moreover, he cannot have need of anything, since he possesses everything.  It is [...]

LENTEN FIRE: March 8

March 8, 2013

From Becoming Fire: Through the Year with the Desert Fathers and Mothers  Concealing and revealing A brother asked Abba Poemen, “If I see my brother’s fault, is it good to conceal it?” The old man said, “At the very moment we conceal our brother’s fault God also hides our own, and at the very moment we reveal our brother’s fault, God also reveals ours.” Sinning in thought and sinning in deed It was reported that two brothers went into a village where they had been sent, and the demon attacked the older one five times in order to make him sin.  And he contended with the attacks by saying a prayer each hour.  They returned to their father and his face was troubled and he asked his father’s [...]

LENT: Wednesday of the Second Week in Lent, by Henri J. M. Nouwen

February 27, 2013

From Show Me The Way Anyone who wants to become great among you must be your servant and anyone who wants to be first among you must be your slave, just as the son of man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many. (Matthew 20:26-28) The great mystery of God’s compassion is that in his compassion, in his entering with us into the condition of a slave, he reveals himself to us as God.  His becoming a servant is not an exception to his being God.  His self-emptying and humiliation are not a step away from his true nature.  His becoming as we are and dying on a cross is not a temporary interruption of his of divine existence.  Rather, in the emptied and humbled Christ we encounter God, we see who [...]

LENTEN FIRE: February 26

February 26, 2013

From Becoming Fire: Through the Year with the Desert Fathers and Mothers  Me too A brother sinned and was kicked out of church by the priest.  Abba Bessarion stood up and went out with him, saying, “I, too, am a sinner.” Some sort of wild animal Abba Cassian said that a brother visited Abba Serapion and the old man invited him, as was his practice, to offer a prayer.  The brother, however, calling himself a sinner and saying that he was not worthy of the monastic habit, did not comply.  Abba Serapion also wanted to wash his feet and the brother, making use of the same words, refused.  The old man made the brother eat and while they were eating he began to admonish him in love, saying, “Child, if you want to be [...]

LENTEN FIRE: February 22

February 22, 2013

From Becoming Fire: Through the Year with the Desert Fathers and Mothers  Tears and vainglory Abba Moses said, “Through tears a person acquires the virtues and through tears comes remission of sins.   When you weep, therefore, do not raise your voice with your groaning, and do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing. (Matthew 6:3)  The left hand is vainglory.” Dancing in the midst of your soul Listen concerning the way you have asked about.  Be attentive; stand with the Lord.  If you keep these words, you will be one of the elect in all things. For it is written: Glory will go before those who are humble. (Proverbs 29:23)  And again, The wisdom of the humble person lifts high that person’s head. [...]

LENTEN FIRE: February 17

February 17, 2013

From Becoming Fire: Through the Year with the Desert Fathers and Mothers  Remember hell, but also remember the day of resurrection Abba Antony said, “As you sit in your cell, gather your thoughts: remember the day of your death; visualize the body’s deadness at that time.  Reflect on misfortune; accept suffering; condemn the world’s foolish vanity.  Be diligent about being gentle in your zealousness in order to maintain the same peaceful disposition at all times without weakening.  Remember also the state of things in hell and reflect on what it is like for the souls there, what sort of very bitter silence and utterly terrible groaning they endure, how great their fear and struggle, what their expectations are like as [...]

ADVENT FIRE: December 18

December 18, 2012

From Becoming Fire: Through the Year with the Desert Fathers and Mothers  How Long Shall We Go On Like This? Abba Paul the Barber and his brother Timothy lived in Scetis.  They often used to argue.  So Abba Paul said, “How long shall we go on like this?” Abba Timothy said to him, “I suggest you take my side of the argument and in turn I will take your side when you oppose me.” They spent the rest of their days in this practice. Mary Needs Martha A brother went to see Abba Silvanus on the mountain of Sinai.  When he saw the brothers working hard he said to the old man, “Do not labor for the food that perishes.  Mary has chosen the better part.” (John 6:27) The old man said to his disciple, “Zacharias, give the brother a [...]

SERMON: The Great Humility Of Saint John The Baptist, by Francis de Sales

December 16, 2012

Sermon for the Third Sunday of Advent, December 13, 1620, concerning pride and ambition as the most powerful temptations, the excellent humility of Saint John the Baptist in renouncing the most dangerous and subtle temptation to pride and ambition, his immediate and succinct denial that he was the messiah, the desire of angels and of all men (even pagans) for the Incarnation, our foolish and untruthful acceptance of honors, Saint John’s humility in skillfully denying even the honored status that rightly belonged to him — without, however, being untruthful; how we should not excuse ourselves of the very faults we accuse ourselves of but confess them straightforwardly, humility’s excellence, affinity with charity, and necessity in [...]

PRAYER: Novena To Saint John Of The Cross

December 14, 2012

Author Unknown Daily Prayer O glorious Saint John of the Cross, through a pure desire of being like Jesus crucified, you longed for nothing so eagerly as to suffer, to be despised, and to be made little of by all; and your thirst after sufferings was so burning that your noble heart rejoiced in the midst of the cruelest torments and afflictions. Grant, I beseech you, O dear saint, by the glory which your many sufferings have gained for you, to intercede for me and obtain from God for me a love of suffering, together with strength and grace to bear with firmness of mind all the trials and adversities which are the sure means to the happy attainment of all that awaits me in Heaven. Dear saint, from your most happy place in glory, hear, I [...]

ADVENT FIRE: December 12

December 12, 2012

From Becoming Fire: Through the Year with the Desert Fathers and Mothers  Did You See Anything Here? A brother came to the cell of Abba Arsenius in Scetis.  Waiting outside the door, he saw the old man entirely like a flame.  (The brother was worthy of this sight.)  When he knocked, the old man came out and saw the brother marveling.  He said to him, “Have you been knocking long? Did you see anything here?” The other answered, “No.” So then Arsenius talked with him and sent him away. I Do Not Know One day some old men came to see Abba Antony.  In the midst of them was Abba Joseph.  Wanting to test them, the old man suggested a text from the Scriptures, and, beginning with the youngest, he asked them what it meant.  Each [...]

ADVENT FIRE: December 1

December 1, 2012

From Becoming Fire: Through the Year with the Desert Fathers and Mothers  Wait a Second There A brother received the monastic habit.  He immediately withdrew to be by himself, saying, “I am an anchorite.”  The old men heard about it so they went to drive him out of his cell.  They made him go around to the cells of the brothers, repenting and saying, “Forgive me, I am not an anchorite but rather a sinner and a novice.” Glorifying God in the Desert One day, then, as Abba Bishoy sat in his cave with a divine hymn on his lips, the Savior appeared to him, saying, “Peace be with you, my beloved servant Bishoy.” Bishoy got up, filled with fear and trembling. (1 Corinthians 2:3, 2 Corinthians 7:15)  “Christ, my compassionate [...]

EVELYN UNDERHILL: Christianity Proclaims the Value of the Individual

November 26, 2012

From Worship, Chapter IX: The Principles of Personal Worship The “praying church” is built of praying souls; and all that has been said of the fundamentally social character of Christian worship, as expressed in the common liturgic action of the church, and of the status of the individual soul as an organic part of this corporate life, must not be allowed to obscure this complementary truth.  Christianity proclaims, more clearly than any other religion, the value and particular vocation of the individual, his unique and direct relation to God.  Its greatest triumphs have been the individual achievements of the saints: that is, persons whose lives of worship have made them tools of God.  Already in the teaching and practice of [...]

SERMON: Christ In Our Life, by Albert Schweitzer

October 28, 2012

Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.  Amen.  (Matthew 28:20) This promise is like the sunrise.  It is as though we were standing on a high mountain and saw the farthest peaks and valleys lighted by a ray of the morning sun.  I am with you unto the close of the age.  This was the last word the Risen One spoke to his disciples.  For some of us it might lose part of its beauty because we find it hard to believe that Jesus spoke in human terms to his disciples after his life on Earth had come to an end.  But, I believe, what really matters is the eternal truth enshrined in these words.  The outward form in which the Risen Lord addressed his [...]

HUMILITY: A Gentleness Of Heart, with writings of Jane de Chantal

April 17, 2012

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 [...]

PRAYERS: Prayers Of Discouragement And Doubt, by Helen Steiner Rice

March 12, 2012

Don’t Be Discouraged It’s easy to grow downhearted When nothing goes your way. It’s easy to be discouraged When you have a troublesome day. But trouble is only a challenge to spur you on to achieve The best that God has to offer if you have the faith to believe. — Though I walk in the midst of trouble, thou dost preserve my life; thou dost stretch out thy hand against the wrath of my enemies, and thy right hand deliver me.  (Psalm 138:7) God’s Hand is Always There I am perplexed and often vexed And sometimes I cry and sadly sigh, But do not think, dear Father above, That I question you or your unfailing love. It’s just that sometimes when I reach out, You seem to be nowhere about, And while I’m sure [...]

LETTER: Walk Humbly by John of the Cross

February 3, 2012

Segovia, 12 October 1589 To one living in the world: May Jesus be in your soul.  I have done anything but forget you; just think, how could I forget one who is in my soul, as you are?  While you are walking in that darkness and in those empty places of spiritual poverty, you think that everyone and everything are failing you; but that is not surprising, for at these times it seems to you that God is failing you too.  But nothing is failing you, nor have you any need to consult me about anything, nor have you any reason to do so, nor do you know one, nor will you find one: all that is merely suspicion without cause.  He that seeks naught but God walk not in darkness, in whatever darkness and poverty he may find himself; and he that [...]