| The Master | The Truth | Why Humility? | Blessed are the Meek | The Deadliest Sin | Some Scenes from Scripture |

The Master

"Learn of me, because I am meek, and humble of heart: and you shall find rest for your souls." (Mt 11:29)

"He does not break the crushed reed, nor quench the wavering flame." (Is 42:1-4)

"O marvelous exchange!  Man's Creator has become man, born of the Virgin.  We have been made sharers in the divinity of Christ who humbled himself to share our humanity."  (CCC 526)

"If we struggle to imitate the self-emptying of Jesus, the humility of Holy Mary and Saint Joseph, then God's light will flood the soul, casting light into the crannies and the seams of our heart.  Then we will quickly discover details of our lack of surrender, of the ego which we have not managed to trod underfoot."  (Bl Josemaria Escriva)

The Truth

"By the grace that has been given to me, I say to each one among you: let no one rate himself more than he ought, but let him rate himself according to moderation, and according as God has apportioned to each one the measure of faith." (Rom 12:3)

"By the grace of God, I am what I am."  (I Cor 15:10)  [Gratia Dei sum id quod sum.]

"The work is his work and to remain so;  all of us are but his instruments, who do our little bit and pass by."  (Mother Teresa of Calcutta)

"Do not become alarmed or discouraged that you have failings -- and such failings!  Struggle to uproot them.  And as you do so, be convinced that it is even a good thing to be aware of all those weaknesses, for otherwise you would be proud.  And pride separates us from God." (Bl Josemaria Escriva, The Forge 181)

"The house of my soul is too small to receive Thee: let it be enlarged by Thee."  (St Augustine, Confessions 1, 5)

"Be humble.  Be humble because we know that in part we are made of clay and though we know a small part of our pride and wretchedness, we do not know it all.  Let us discover whatever hinders our faith, our hope and our love."  (Bl Josemaria Escriva, Letter 24 Mar 1931)

"But we carry this treasure in vessels of clay, to show that the transcendent power belongs to God and not to us." (II Cor 4:7) [Habemus autem thesaurum istum in vasis fictilibus, ut sublimitas sit virtutis Dei, et non ex nobis.]

"And to keep me from being too elated by the abundance of revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan, to harass me, to keep me from being too elated.  Three times I besought the Lord about this, that it should leave me; but he said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.'  I will all the more gladly boast of my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.  For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions and calamities; for when I am weak, then I am strong."  (II Cor 12:7-10)

"Miserable man that I am, when will my pusillanimity and imperfection be able to conform with your righteousness?  You indeed are good, and I, evil; you merciful, and I, wicked; you are holy, and I, miserable; you are just, and I am unjust; you are light, and I, blindness; you are life, and I am death; you are medicine, I am sickness; you are supreme Truth, and I, utter vanity."  (Pseudo-Augustine, Soliloquiorum animae ad Deum I, c.2. PL 40,866)

"Confronted by their own selves, most men run away screaming."  (M Ende, The Never-Ending Story)

"How villainous has been my behavior and how unfaithful I have been to God's grace.  My Mother, Refuge of sinners, pray for me.  May I never again hinder God's work in my soul."  (Bl Josemaria Escriva, The Forge 178)

"After what God saw fit to show me on the feast of St Nicholas, it seems to me that everything which I have written is worthless.  And so, I am unable to write anything more."  (St Thomas Aquinas, after a vision)

"One sees great things from the valley; only small things from the peak."

"When you learn to give thanks to God for everything, you will have advanced a great deal in the spiritual life."  (Bl Josemaria Escriva)

"Lord, give your faithful people a spirit of prayer and praise, that we may always thank you in everything."  (Liturgy of the Hours, 4th Sunday in Ordinary Time)  [Da fidelibus tuis, Domine, spiritum orationis et laudis, ut in omnibus tibi gratias semper agamus.]

"... we are, after all, ridiculous.  The Pharisee stood on his dignity; the Christian saint knows that he has no dignity of his own whatsoever, and is content to be a fool for Christ's sake.  Beginning with St Paul, there have been many who have cheerfully accepted the role of holy fool, deflecting the dangerous admiration of the crowd even by buffoonery and self-ridicule.  This is the contrast between Christianity and paganism.  The pagan always strives to be self-contained, self-sufficient, self-satisfied, self-obsessed.  The saint finds all sufficiency in Christ alone, and cares nothing for self.  There is no surer path to damnation than taking oneself too seriously."  (Francis Randolph)

"High virtue is unaware of its virtuousness, therefore it has virtue.  Low virtue is never free from virtuousness, therefore it has no virtue."  (Lao Tse, Tao)

"You must therefore conceal from the patient the true end of Humility.  Let him think of it not as self-forgetfulness but as a certain kind of opinion (namely, a low opinion) of his own talents and character. ...Fix in his mind the idea that humility consists in trying to believe those talents to be less valuable that he believes them to be.  No doubt they are in fact less valuable than he believes, but that is not the point. ...By this method thousands of humans have been brought to think that humility means pretty women trying to believe they are ugly and clever men trying to believe they are fools.  And since what they are trying to believe may, in some cases, be manifest nonsense, they cannot succeed in believing it and we have the chance of keeping their minds endlessly revolving on themselves in an effort to achieve the impossible."  (CS Lewis, Screwtape Letters, XIV)

"Some said that I was a saint, and it is not true, because I am a sinner.  Others said I was a devil, and neither were they right, because I am a son of God."  (Bl Josemaria Escriva, quoted in Pilar Urbano, Hombre de Villa Tevere, pp 343-344)

"There is much talk today about discovering an identity, as though it were something to be looked for, like a winning number in a lottery; then, once found, to be hoarded and treasured.  Actually ... the more it is spent the richer it becomes.  So, with Mother Teresa--in effacing herself, she becomes herself.  Just meeting her for a fleeting moment makes an ineffaceable impression."  (Malcolm Muggeridge, Something Beautiful for God, pp 16-17)

"You, who see yourself so badly lacking in virtues, in talents, in abilities...  Do you not feel the desire to cry out like the blind Bartimaeus, 'Jesus, Son of David, have pity on me?'
"What a beautiful aspiration for you to say very often, 'Lord, have pity on me!'
"He will hear you and come to your aid."  (Bl Josemaria Escriva, The Forge 197)

"One has been endowed with just enough intelligence to be able to see clearly how utterly inadequate that intelligence is when confronted with what exists.  If such humility could be conveyed to everybody, the world of human activities would be more appealing."  (Albert Einstein)

"What we naturally give rise to are barbs and thorns; if roses bloom, they are from God.  But when there are no roses, do not be ashamed to say, 'Here, instead of roses, there is a heap of dung.'" (Bl Josemaria Escriva)

Why Humility?

"If anyone wants to be first, he must make himself last of all and servant of all." (Mk 9:35)

"It is only when human weakness is most sensible of itself that divine grace is most effective." (Hugh Benson, The Friendship of Christ, p 43)

"We, who especially belong to God -- his instruments, inspite of our poor personal misery -- will be effective if we do not lose sight of our weakness."  (Bl Josemaria Escriva)

Without humility, everything else is "like a huge heap of hay which we have piled up, but which with the first gust of wind is blown over and scattered far and wide.  The devil has little respect for those devotions which are not founded on humility, because he knows well that he can get rid of them whenever he pleases." (St John Marie Vianney, Sermon on Humility)

"He is able to have compassion on the ignorant and the erring because he himself also is beset with weakness, and by reason thereof is obliged to offer for sins, as on behalf of the people so also for himself." (Heb 5:2-3)

In the spiritual life, there is no one so vulnerable as the one who does not know that he is weak or can collapse. (cf Eugene Boylan, The Priest's Way to God, p 57)

"[Humility] gives [charity] consistency and makes it possible: 'the dwelling place of charity is humility,' says St Augustine. To the extent that a person can forget about self, he can take an interest in other people and attend to their needs. Many sins against charity have been provoked by previous faults of vanity, pride, selfishness and the desire to stand out from among others." (Francisco Fernandez, In Conversation with God, vol 1, p 202)

"A humble person has a special facility for making friends, even with people of very different tastes and of varying age groups, which is a great help in all kinds of personal apostolate." (Francisco Fernandez, In Conversation with God, vol 1, p 201)

"Only little children can enter through the narrow gate.  But not children with big heads."  (Javier de Pedro, July 1989)

"For we are exposed to a very subtle danger, an almost imperceptible snare of the enemy, who when he sees us becoming more effective, redoubles his efforts to deceive us.  This subtle danger, my sons -- which moreover is very common to souls dedicated to working for God -- is a kind of hidden pride.  It arises from our realization that we are instruments for accomplishing marvelous, divine things.  It is a quiet self-satisfaction in seeing the miracles that are performed in the apostolate.  For we see blind intellects recovering their sight, paralyzed wills moving once again, hearts of stone turning to flesh and becoming capable of supernatural charity and human affection, consciences covered with leprosy --stains of sin -- being cleansed, and completely dead and rotten souls -- iam foetet, quatriduanus est enim, he stinks, for he has been buried for four days (Jn 11:39) -- recovering supernatural life."  (Bl Josemaria Escriva, 1967)

Blessed are the Meek

"Like the knight of La Mancha, they see giants where there are nothing but windmills; they become ill-humored, sour people, full of bitter jealousy, rough-mannered, finding no good in anyone, looking on the black side of everything -- those who are afraid of the rightful freedom of man, those who do not know how to smile."  (Bl Josemaria Escriva, 16 June 1933)

"We all tend to think that it is better and easier to do good by being noisy and bossy; that education is achieved by threats and roughness; that respect is obtained just by raising one's voice and being authoritarian.  What room, then, is left in our life for Christian meekness?  Why did Jesus recommend it to us in the Gospel?"  (Salvador Canals, "Meekness," in Jesus as Friend, p 41)

"How often experience has taught us that corrections and reproaches, made without human meekness, have closed the heart of the person who should have received them.  This should help us remember that, when we cease to be a father, brother or friend to our neighbor, every word that leaves our lips carries the fatal germ of sterility."  (Salvador Canals, "Meekness," in Jesus as Friend,  p 41)

"Try always, through Christian meekness, which is friendly and affable, to hold the hearts of those whom divine providence has placed alongside you and given you to look after. For if you lose men's hearts, it will be difficult for you to bring light to their minds and get their will to follow the path you show them." (Salvador Canals, "Meekness," in Jesus as Friend,  p 41)

"My friend, you who feel on your shoulders and in your heart responsibility for other souls, the weight of other lives: never forget that trust cannot be imposed; it must be inspired.  And without the trust of the people around you, who work with you and who serve you, how bitter your life will be and how fruitless your mission." (Salvador Canals, "Meekness," in Jesus as Friend,  p 41)

"With your good humor, your understanding and your friendliness, with the meekness of Christ as part and parcel of your life, not only should you be happy but you should bring happiness to everyone around you, to the people you meet on the road of your life.  As you go along you should leave behind the good aroma of Christ (II Cor 2:15) -- your constant smile, your serene calm, your good humor and your joy, your charity and your understanding.  You should become like Jesus 'who went about doing good' (Act 10:38)." (Salvador Canals, "Meekness," in Jesus as Friend,  p 42)

"Ask yourself, my friend, in a sincere, clear-sighted examination of conscience, what have you in fact left behind up to now.  Those who have regarded you as a father, a brother or a friend; those who have had contact with you as a superior or a colleague: what have they received from you?  What has been the effect on their souls of having met you?" (Salvador Canals, "Meekness," in Jesus as Friend,  p 42)

"Before wanting to make saints out of all those people we love, we have to make them happy and joyful, for nothing better prepares the soul for grace than joy." (Salvador Canals, "Meekness," in Jesus as Friend,  p 42)

"You already know -- I only want to remind you of it -- that when you have in your hands the hearts of those whom you wish to make better, if you are able to attract them through the meekness of Christ, you have already gone half-way on your apostolic road.  When they love you and trust you, when they are content, the field is ready for the sowing.  For their hearts are open like fertile ground, ready to receive the white grain of your word as an apostle or educator.  If you know how to speak without wounding, although you may have to correct or reprimand, hearts will not close themselves to you.  The seed will fall on truly fertile ground and the harvest will be plentiful.  If things were otherwise your words would find, not an open heart, but a brick wall; your seed would not fall on fertile ground but 'on the side of the road' of indifference or distrust; or 'on the rocky ground' of a soul who is ill-disposed; or 'among the thorns' of a wounded and resentful heart."(Salvador Canals, "Meekness," in Jesus as Friend,  p 43)

The Deadliest Sin

"If thou couldst empty all thyself of self,
Like to a shell dishabited
Then might He find thee on the ocean shelf
And say: 'This is not dead,'
And fill thee with Himself instead.
But thou art all replete with very thou
And has such shrewd activity
That when He comes He says: 'This is enow
Unto itself: Twere better let it be
It is so small and full, there is no room for Me.'" (TE Brown)

"For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not knowing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked.  Therefore I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire, that you may be rich, and white garments to clothe you and to keep the shame of your nakedness from being seen, and salve to anoint your eyes, that you may see."  (Apoc 4:17-18)

"Take away self-will, and there will no longer be any hell."  (St Bernard; cf Garrigou-Lagrange, The Three Ages of the Interior Life vol 2, p 151)

"God does not want proud, self-satisfied servants.  On the contrary, he wants them to be convinced of their own unworthiness."  (Bl Josemaria Escriva, Letter, 9 January 1932)

"Everything must center round himself.  And to satisfy this unhealthy urge, the proud person will sometimes even fake pain, sadness, or illness to attract attention so that others will make a fuss of him."  (Bl Josemaria Escriva, Friends of God 101)

"Most of the conflicts arising in the interior life of many people are products of their own imagination: 'the things they are thinking, whether I am appreciated ...'  The poor soul suffers, through his pathetic foolishness, harboring suspicions that are unfounded.  In this miserable mood everything makes him bitter and he tries to upset others also.  All this because he doesn't wish to be humble, because he hasn't learned to forget himself in order to give himself generously in the service of others for the love of God." (Bl Josemaria Escriva, Friends of God 101)

Pride is insidious because it is that sickness of the soul that brings with it its own anaesthetic.  (cf Leo Trese, A Man Approved, p 93)

"...deceit, hiding the real evil, falsehood, and cunning are basic to the devil's technique.  He never reveals his true intentions, but masks his purpose under various disguises.  He adapts himself to people's temperaments and character, even to their tastes.  If they are meek and submissive, he tries to seduce them along self-effacive lines.  If they are bold and headstrong, he urges them to evil under an aggressive guise.  If they are worldly and pleasure-seeking, he will enter their door with temptations of the flesh.  If they are prayerful and spiritual-minded, he will appear 'as an angel of light.'  If they tend to be emotional, he adjusts his tactics to where his intended victims give least resistance to their passions.  If they are intellectual, he will accommodate himself and tempt them to pride and sins of the mind."  (John Hardon, SJ The Catholic Catechism)

"Your ill-temper, your roughness, your unfriendliness, your rigidity (not very Christian!) are why you find yourself alone, in the loneliness of someone who is selfish, embittered, eternally discontented or resentful; and they are also why you are surrounded not by love but by indifference, coldness, resentment and lack of trust." (Salvador Canals, "Meekness," in Jesus as Friend,  p 42)

"Those who do not know the meekness of Christ leave behind them a cloud of discontent, a wake of animosity and bitterness, a trail of wounds which do not heal, a whole chorus of laments and a string of hearts closed -- for a while at least -- to the action of grace and to trusting in the goodness of their fellow man." (Salvador Canals, "Meekness," in Jesus as Friend,  p 42)

"Self-love makes us show more indulgence and benevolence to ourselves than we deserve, with the result that God and our neighbor are deprived of the love that we owe them." (Benedict Baur, Frequent Confession, p 111)

"Very often self-love puts the things of the body -- bodily health, temporal prosperity, comfort and ease, bodily strength or beauty -- above the good of the soul and makes us unduly concerned about these things, which after all are of secondary importance." (Benedict Baur, Frequent Confession, p 111)

"Even in spiritual things self-love makes us seek excessively after progress in virtue and freedom from every fault and weakness: out of a secret ambition and vanity and pride.  It causes our souls to be disturbed and dissatisfied and impatient when our prayer and our spiritual exercises are not going as we wish them to go, when we are troubled with distractions and so forth and cannot pray as well as we should like to and as we thought we could." (Benedict Baur, Frequent Confession, p 111)

"In our behavior towards those around us, especially, self-love shows itself.  It makes us touchy, short-tempered, sharp, conceited, censorious: it makes us cold, unfeeling, unfriendly, envious, unfair in judgment and in speech, lacking in respect for others; it takes away that interior peace that is the very soul of the spiritual life.  It produces in us an exaggerated sense of our own importance and thus destroys humility.  It creates a jealous, distrustful disposition and makes us day by day more irritable and touchy and more incapable of practicing charity and causes us to lead a very superficial and distracted life, without any deep or genuine attention to the things of God.  It makes us consider ourselves better than others, even in matters of piety; it makes us close our eyes to their good points, see only their shortcomings and defects and ascribe to them evil intentions which they never had." (Benedict Baur, Frequent Confession, p 111)

"...self-love inclines people to go their own way as far as possible, to look for dispensations from the common regime and, at the same time, to be stricter in certain other things than the law or the common practice demands.  Self-love makes us seek always what is special and peculiar; it makes us want to be different, to attract attention, to be in command, to be considered important.  It very likely makes us disobedient, inclined to criticize, to be dissatisfied, to be wanting in charity towards our superiors and equals." (Benedict Baur, Frequent Confession, p 111)

"Self-love is the source of much interior disturbance, disquiet, fear, disillusionment.  It often gives rise to a multitude of 'good resolutions' and plans that never let the soul rest and deprive it of all interior peace.  It is the deep and ultimate cause of all our sins and faults and unfaithfulness." (Benedict Baur, Frequent Confession, p 111)

"The Paraclete never tires of coming to visit us, unceasingly; but we need to make every effort to shut out from our senses and faculties the cries of selfishness.  Otherwise, our lives would start to show symptoms of our own will, that of the carnal man or woman who opposes the Spirit of God.  We would become prouder, more obstinate, and more envious, suspicious and touchy; we would be more inclined to be critical and to make rash and erroneous judgments; we would become gossip-mongers, complaining about what we considered to be other people's defects, and desirous of praise; and finally, when we could no longer hide our own faults, we would develop a tendency to discover -- or would claim to discover -- similar faults in other people. (Javier Echevarria, Letter 1 February 1998)

"Men are not angered by mere misfortune but by misfortune conceived as injury.  And the sense of injury depends on the feeling that a legitimate claim has been denied.  The more claims on life, therefore, that your patient can be induced to make, the more often he will feel injured and, as a result, ill-tempered.
"Now you will have noticed that nothing throws him into a passion so easily as to find a tract of time which he reckoned on having at his own disposal unexpectedly taken away from him.  It is the unexpected visitor (when he looked forward to a quiet evening), or the friend's talkative wife (turning up when he looked forward to a tete-a-tete with the friend), that throw him out of gear.
"You must therefore zealously guard in his mind the curious assumption, 'My time is my own.'" (CS Lewis, Screwtape Letters, XX)

Some Scenes from Scripture

Washing of the Feet  (Jn 13:3-16)
Magnificat, The (Lk 1:46-55)