St Augustine says: “IF YOU ASK ME WHAT IS THE ESSENTIAL THING IN THE RELIGION AND DISCIPLINE OF JESUS CHRIST, I SHALL REPLY: FIRST HUMILITY, SECOND HUMILITY AND THIRD HUMILITY” (Letter 118). Why? Because HUMILITY IS THE FOUNDATION, THE BASIS OF ALL VIRTUES, including that of love. HUMILITY IS THE FOUNDATION OF LOVE, THE HABITAT OF CHARITY.
- ONLY THE HUMBLE PERSON IS CAPABLE OF TRUE LOVE WHICH DEMANDS TOTAL SELF-GIVING, forgetting oneself, thinking about the others, sacrifice and self-abnegation: all these characteristics we have seen in Our Lord Jesus Christ’s life.
- Moreoever, ONLY THE HUMBLE PERSON CAN RECEIVE GOD’S GRACE WHICH HAS THE PRIMACY IN HOLINESS.
- At the same time, all the other virtues, according to
St. Augustine, are but different manifestations of love, which in turn, can only grow and dwell in a humble person.
- “Prayer is the humility of the man who acknowledges his profound wretchedness and the greatness of God. He addresses and adores God as one who expects everything from Him and nothing from himself.
- Faith is the humility of the mind which renounces its own judgement and surrenders to the verdict and authority of the Church.
- Obedience is the humility of the will which subjects itself to the will of another, for God’s sake.
- Chastity is the humility of the flesh, which subjects itself to the spirit.
- Exterior mortification is the humility of the senses.
- Penance is the humility of all thepassions, immolated to the Lord.
- Humility is truth on the road of the ascetic struggle.”
- Teresa said: “I was wondering once, why Our Lord so dearly loved this virtue of humility; and all of a sudden—without, I believe, my having previously thought of it—the following reason came into my mind: that it is because God is Sovereign Truth and TO BE HUMBLE IS TO WALK IN TRUTH” (The Interior Castle, VI, 10).
- Know thyself!, says the ancient Greek maxim inscribed at the forecourt of the Temple of Apollo at Delphi. HUMILITY LEADS TO SELF-KNOWLEDGE, ACCORDING TO THE TRUTH, —without any presumption, excusesor justification— OF ONE’S QUALITIES AND LIMITATIONS, OF ONE’S ACTIONS AND OMISSIONS, OF ONE’S ERRORS, FAILURES, AND ACHIEVEMENTS AS WELL.
- It acknowledges the truth OF ONE’S CONDITION AS A CREATURE AND CHILD OF GOD, and of the fact that ALL THAT WE ARE AND ALL GOOD THAT WE HAVE ARE GIFTS WHICH COME FROM GOD. What have you that you did not receive? If then you received it, why do you boast as if it were not a gift?” (1 Cor 4:7).
- Self-knowledge according to the truth leads us to act naturally without pretensions or hypocrisy before others, but rather showing them who we really are.
- It also leads us to be more understanding with the people around us, of their errors, limitations, sufferings, miseries, with empathy, mercy and compassion.
- Moreover, it enables one to think more of the others than oneself.
- At the same time, acknowledging ourselves as creatures, small children, powerless, unworthy and sinners before God is the beginning of a loving relationship with Him.
- Conversion will never be possible without humility, without sincerely recognizing and acknowledging our sins and faults before God in our prayer and in the sacrament of Confession. This is the reason why St. John of the Cross wrote: “Knowledge of oneself is the first step that has to be taken for the soul to reach the knowledge of God” (Spiritual Canticle, 4, 1) and St. Augustine: “Domine Iesu, noverim me, noverim te – Lord Jesus, let me know myself and know Thee”(Soliloquios, II, 1, 1)