Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another...

"Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for 'God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.' Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that in due time He may exalt you." (1 Peter 5:5-6).

A few years ago, another Catholic Blogger (who would routinely refer to His Eminence Sean Cardinal O'Malley as "Sean" - while accusing him of heresy) wrote me an email in which she referred to my Blog as "small potatos." It must have shocked this woman when I sincerely agreed with her. I'll go further. Not only is this Blog small potatos. But I am also small. In fact, my very name is from the Latin Paulus meaning "little" or "small."

We quickly forget that Jesus can do much with our little. Wasn't that really the point He was trying to make when He multiplied the bread and fishes and fed so many with so little? Humility (which is really only the truth) is so important to the spiritual life because it keeps us from falling into pride, which is one of the Seven Deadly Sins. It was pride that caused the fall of Lucifer, one of the greatest of the angels. And it is pride which goes before every fall. So important is humility to the spiritual life that St. Jean Vianney said, "Humility is to the various virtues what the chain is to the Rosary; take away the chain and the beads are scattered, remove humility and all virtues vanish." St. John Chrysostom said that, "Humility is the mother, root, nurse, foundation, and center of all other virtues."

It's okay to be "small" and "little." How easily we forget this. The Little Flower taught that even picking up a pencil for the love of God can be a great thing, precisely because it is done out of love. In Philippians 2: 3-11, St. Paul exhorts us to, "Do nothing out of selfishness or out of vainglory; rather, humbly regard others as more important than yourselves, each looking out not for his own interests, but (also) everyone for those of others. Have among yourselves the same attitude that is also yours in Christ Jesus, Who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God something to be grasped. Rather, he emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness; and found human in appearance, he humbled himself, becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross. Because of this, God greatly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, of those in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father."

There is no shame in weakness. Although the world would have you believe otherwise. But we don't follow the world or its asinine maxims do we? We follow the Apostle Paul who said, "For when I am weak, it is then that I am strong." When we humbly acknowledge our weakness, our poverty, then - AND ONLY THEN - can God fill us with His strength.

4 comments:

Marie Tremblay said...

The confessionals are largely empty today because there is too much pride, too much arrogance and too much self-centeredness. Chicken Soup books and other psychological self-help books encourage people to "assert themselves" and to "dominate" everyone and everything. The notion of taking the last place, of being poor like St. Francis of Assisi, is seen as anathema.

The world shouts "win-at-all-cost," "assert yourself," "take everything you can get," "trample on others to get what you want," "dominate the conversation."

And our society is poorer for it.

Alzina said...

Thomas A' Kempis said that: "A humble knowledge of ourselves is a surer way to God than is the search for depth of learning."

I recommend his Imitation of Christ for anyone.

Sanctus Belle said...

I am not wise, nor am I smart - but, it seems to me that the answer to everything is to be small, hidden and humble. In doing so we acknowledge the Truth - which is God who is all powerful, all wise and all knowing. In living the truth of our nothingness, we allow more room for God to act through us - not of our own, but of Him. One can soar the heights of joy in this simplicity, this perfect jewel which is being nothing - knowing you are nothing! God stoops to such a soul!

Paul Anthony Melanson said...

Marie, I couldn't have said it better. One emphasis of mine has always been on reconciliation. Hence the creation of this little Blog.

Alzina, excellent book. A classic. I would also recommend Dr. Dietrich von Hildebrand's Transformation in Christ. It is so full of insights that I have re-read it numerous times.

Sanctus, what can I say but that you are not far from the kingdom of God sister.

Thanks all for the comments. God love you!

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