Friday, February 17, 2006

Are We Brave Enough to Ask for Humility?

If we want to build up our Christian life we must have a great desire of developing in ourselves the virtue of humility, pleading with Our Lord for it and facing up to our subterfuges and failings in this area while trying by our actions to root our self-love. Humility produces countless fruits and is linked with all the other virtues. It is associated in a special way with cheerfulness, fortitude, chastity, sincerity, simplicity, affability, and magnamity. A humble person has a special gift for friendship and, because of this, for being apostolic. Without humility there is no chance of living a life full of charity, the theological virtue prerequisite for being an apostle and a friend.

To become more humble, we have to be ready to accept the humiliation of finding victory elusive in our struggle to conquer our defects, and of being reminded of our weaknesses day by day. Often when we examine our conscience, especially on those occasions when we can do it more thoroughly, we can ask questions like these: have I managed to offer Our Lord in expiation the very sorrow I feel for having offended him so many times? Have I offered him the shame of all my inner embarrassment and humiliation at seeing how little progress I make along the path of virtue? (J. Escriva, The Forge) Then there are the humiliations inflicted on us by others — the ones we were not expecting or the ones that seem unfair or downright unjust. Do we bear these well for Our Lord's sake?

If we are searching for the firm rock of Our Lord's own humility in order to build on it, we are bound to find countless opportunities every day. We can try talking about ourselves only when it is really necessary — and not so much even then. We can be grateful for the little good turns people do for us. Keeping in mind that we deserve nothing, we can thank God for the countless benefits we receive. We can decide to make the world a more pleasant place for those who come in contact with us throughout the day. And what about those useless thoughts that revolve around ourselves? They can be cut off at the start. We should not miss any chance of lending a hand at home with the family, or at work, or anywhere else we may be. Instead of trying to be too independent we can allow ourselves to be helped, or we can ask for advice. If we are very sincere with ourselves we shall ask Our Lord to stop us finding excuses to explain away our sins and failings, those things that humiliate us and for which we sometimes have to ask other people's forgiveness. All of this is done with God's help and with the help of spiritual direction, which is only another way of coming into contact with him.

Fixing our gaze on Christ, we can have enough humility to admit our mistakes and set about putting them right...
Guilty as charged.

Part of my problem is that when I ask for humility, knowing that it is so very good for me, the Lord answers practically instantly. And humility is not easy to bear. It hurts. It stings. It cuts deep and can be hard to forget.

Of course, the goal is to get to where we can offer it to God and not mind at all. I am quite a long way away from achieving that goal which means that I have to ask for humility all the more. But because it hurts, that calls for courage ... or, as I often must do, for asking God to forgive my fear of the very thing I am asking for. The only thing that makes it possible for me to want such a thing is that I have been there before and seen the fruit it bears and the good it does me. Which helps make me brave.

Lord, keep us close to you. Make us humble. Amen.

1 comment:

  1. Love the layout.