Humility Of Heart Part 2

6. There is no valid excuse for not being humble, because we have always, within and without, abundant reasons for humility: “And thy humiliation shall be in the midst of thee.” It is the Holy Ghost who sends us this warning by the mouth of His prophet Micheas.” [vi, 14]

When we consider well what we are in body, and what we are in soul, it seems to me most easy to humble oneself, and even most difficult to be proud. To be humble it suffices that I should nourish within myself that right feeling which belongs to every man who is honorable in the eyes of the world, to be content with one’s own without unjustly depriving our neighbor of what is his. Therefore, as I have nothing of my own but my own nothingness, it is sufficient for humility that I should be content with this nothingness. But if I am proud, I become like a thief, appropriating to myself that which is not mine but God’s. And most assuredly it is a greater sin to rob God of that which belongs to God than to rob man of that which is man’s.

To be humble let us listen to the revelation of the Holy Ghost which is infallible. “Behold you are nothing, and your work is of that which hath no being.” [Isa. xli, 24] But who is really convinced of his own nothingness?

It is for this reason that in holy Scripture it is said: “Every man is a liar.” [Ps. cxv, 2] For there is no man who from time to time does not entertain some incredible self-esteem, and form some false opinion as to his being, or having, or achieving something more than is possible to his own nothingness.

To know what our body is in reality, it will suffice for us to look into the grave, for, from what we see there, we must inevitably conclude that as it is with those decayed bodies, so it will soon be with us. And with this reflection I must say to myself: “Why is earth and ashes proud?” [Ecclus x, 9] “Behold the glory of man! for his glory is dung and worms; today he is lifted up, and tomorrow he shall not be found, because he is returned into his earth, and his thought is come to nothing.” [1 Mach. ii, 62, 63]

O my soul, without going further to seek truth, enter in thought into the heart of thy dwelling which is thy body! “Go in and shut thyself up in the midst of thy house.” [Ezek. iii, 24] Go in and look well around thee, and thou shalt find nothing but corruption. “Go into the clay and tread.” [Nahum iii, 14] Wherever thou turnest thou wilt see nothing but putrefaction oozing forth.

7. In order to learn what we really are, let us examine our own conscience. And finding therein only our own malice and a capacity to commit every kind of iniquity, shall we not all say to ourselves: “Why dost thou glory in malice, thou that art mighty in iniquity?” [ Ps. li, 1] What hast thou of thine own, my soul, wherewith to glorify thyself—–thou who art a vessel of iniquity, and a sink of sin and vice? Is not all this self-glorification—–whether it be for thy bodily or spiritual gifts that thou buildest a reputation for thyself—–but vanity and deceit?

Oh, how true it is that every man is a liar, for one need have but little pride in order to be a liar, and. there is no one who has not inherited through our first parents something of that pride which they learned in listening to the deceitful promise of the serpent: “And you shall be all Gods.” [Gen. iii, 5]

Again it may be said that every man is a liar in this sense—–that he not infrequently prizes earth more than Heaven, the body more than the soul, things temporal more than things eternal, the creature more than the Creator—–and it is for this reason that David exclaims: “O ye sons of men, why do ye love vanity and seek after lying?” [Ps. iv, 3] “The sons of men are liars in the balances.” [Ps. lxi, 10]

But in reality a lie dwells essentially in that pride which makes us esteem ourselves above what we are. Whoever regards himself as more than mere nothingness is filled with pride, and is a liar. It is St. Paul’s statement: “If any man think himself to be something whereas he is nothing, he deceiveth himself.” [Gal. vi, 3]

Every time I esteem myself, preferring myself to others, I deceive myself with this self-adulation, and commit an error against truth.