26 July 2007

Humility

Annunciation, by Fra Fillipo Lippi

For several years, I have been trying to grow in my Catholicism. I've been like a rudderless ship for awhile, in need of a good spiritual director. Like St. Teresa describes, my fervor kind of waxes and wanes. Two steps forward and one back. Maybe I'm making progress but it is slow, hindered by my own weaknesses.

One of the weaknesses is lack of humility. In recently reading, The Story of a Soul, by St. Therese, I didn't understand why she talked about her self love when she was merely a child. At the time, I didn't see that she was far more astute than I am, recognizing at an early, early age how pride (lack of humility) clouds the relationship with God.

I've been praying for humility for many years. I only ask God for humility on my terms, because the first time I asked for a lesson in humility, it was incredibly painful. I took to asking Him to teach me humility, but gently, don't hit me over the head with it. No growth in humility really came about. God doesn't like to be dictate to, he wants us to come to him meekly. It was a incredible act of pride on my part to tell God how to teach me to be humble. I doubt the irony was lost on Him.

I'm not even done reading, The Story of a Soul, but have asked for humility again, more on God's terms. Before I even was able to read another chapter of the book, a very painful, and humbling, experience happened. This is a lesson I will have deep in my heart for the rest of my life. Painful, but necessary. Nothing I would've chosen as a "teaching tool," but clearly, God's ways are not my ways. Thanks be to God.

Humility, from the Pocket Catholic Dictionary, is defined as:
The moral virtue that keeps a person from reaching beyond himself. It is the virtue that restrains the unruly desire for personal greatness and leads people to an orderly love of themselves based on a true appreciation of their position with respect to God and their neighbors. Religious humility recognizes one's total dependence on God; moral humility recognizes one's creaturely equality with others. Yet humility is not only opposed to pride; it is also opposed to immoderate self-abjection, which would fail to recognize God's gifts and use them according to his will. (Etym, Latin humilitas, abasement, humility, from humus, ground).

Our Lady was perfectly humble. From "The Glories of Mary,":
...Our Lord showed St. Bridget two ladies. One was all pomp and vanity. "She," he said, "is pride; but the other one whom thou seest with her head bent down, courteous towards all, having God alone in her mind, and considering herself as no one, is Humility, her name is Mary."

Again, another passage:

"O how dear are humble souls to Mary!" says St. Bernard; "this Blessed Virgin recognizes and loves those who love her, and is near to all who call upon her; and especially to those whom she sees like unto herself in chastity and humility." Hence the saint exhorts all who love Mary to be humble.[snip]

Then, O my queen, I can never be really thy child unless I am humble; but dost thou not see that my sins, after having rendered me ungrateful to my Lord, have also made me proud? O my Mother, do thou supply a remedy. By the merit of thy humility obtain that I may be truly humble, and thus become thy child. Amen

And, Father Corapi has something to say about humility. He said that humility is the recognition of Truth.

The truth I am finally starting to see glimpses of is that everything I have is a grace and a blessing. I have done nothing on my own. Nothing. The cloak on my shoulders is God's; I have not put it there.

Finally, from "The Glories of Mary,":
Whosoever loves, resembles the person loved, or endeavors to become like that person; according to the well-known proverb, "Love either finds or makes its like." Hence, St. Sophronius exhorts us to endeavor to imitate Mary, if we love her, because this is the greatest act of homage that we can offer her; "My beloved children," the saint says, "serve Mary, whom you love; for you then truly love her, if you endeavor to imitate her whom you love."

May Our Lady, full of grace, teach me to imitate her in everything I do.

2 comments:

Ray from MN said...

I've "gone through" "The Story of a Soul" three times and I'm just beginning to understand what she is writing about.

It's probably time for me to pick it up again.

swissmiss said...

I don't know how I'm going to have time to move on from Story of a Soul, just keep rereading parts of it!