Adapted from Jesus, The Word To Be Spoken by Mother Theresa:
"HUMILITY IS THE MOTHER OF ALL VIRTUES: purity, charity, obedience. St Bernard and all the saints built their lives on humility.
"If you are humble, nothing will touch you, neither praise nor disgrace, because you know what you are. If you are blamed, you won't be discouraged; if anyone calls you a saint, you won't put yourself on a pedestral. If you are a saint, thank God; if you are a sinner, don't remain one. Christ tells us to aim very high, not to be like Abraham or David or any of the saints, but to be like our heavenly Father.
"Charitableness and pride cannot go together because pride is all for self, and charity wants to give. The sisters most liked are those who are humble. Self-knowledge puts us on our knees, and it is very necessary for love. For knowledge of God gives love, and knowledge of self gives humility."
"WE NEED TO AVOID PRIDE. Pride destroys everything. That's why Jesus told his disciples to be meek and humble. He didn't say contemplation is a big thing -- but being meek and humble with one another. If you understand that, you understand your vocation. To live his way is the key to being meek and humble.
"If you are put in the kitchen, you must not think it does not require brains -- that sitting, standing, coming, going, anything will do. God will not ask that Sister how many books she has read; how many miracles she has worked; but He will ask her if she has done her best. for the love of Him. Can she in all sincerity say, 'I have done my best'? Even if the best is a failure, it must be our best, our utmost.
"Let none glory in their success but refer all to God in deepest thankfulness; on the other hand, no failure should dishearten them as long as they have done their best. Humanly speaking, if a Sister fails in her work we are inclined to attribute it all to all kinds of human weaknessess -- she has no brains, she did not do her best, and so on. Yet in the eyes of God she is not a failure if it is her best. She is his co-worker still.
"We must never think any one of us is indispensable. God has ways and means -- he may allow everything to go upside-down in the hands of a talented and capable Sister. God sees only her love. You may be exhausted with work, even kill yourself, but unless your work is interwoven with love it is useless. God does not need our work.
"You may have visions and ecstasies and yet be deceived. Watch! There are the silk threads of pride and deception, for example, hiding good qualities: a good voice, the ability to make others happy, and so on. Let us not forget that we owe humility to God out of reverence to him, or that our humility is not only an imitation of Christ but also a perfect way of giving oneself to Jesus, for when we are able to accept with joy all these humiliations, our love for Jesus becomes very intimate and very ardent.
"It is in loving our Lord and our neighbour that our humility will flower, and it is in being humble that our love will become real, devoted, and ardent. Humility always radiates the greatness and glory of God. How wonderful are the ways of God! He used humility, smallness, helplessness, and poverty to prove to the world that he loved the world. Let us not be afraid to be humble, small, and helpless to prove our love to God. God wants us to be close to him. St John says that he opened his heart. Become small and then you will be able to enter it.
"Complaining and excusing oneself are most natural, but they are a means the devil makes use of to increase our pride. Correction at times hurts most when it is most true. "I cannot do this. I cannot do that -- but I can be lazy." Pride is often covered by laziness.
"It is one thing for me to say I am a sinner, but let someone else say that about me and then I feel it; I am up in arms. If I am falsely accused I may suffer, but deep down there is joy, whereas if the correction be founded on even a small reality -- something in me having deserved it -- then often it hurts more. We must be happy that our faults are known as they are and be open with the superiors about faults and shortcomings.
"Humiliations come also from most unexpected corners, as from the chosen people of God themselves: the bishops, priests and nuns. We are looked down on by some because of our lack of culture or education, our inefficiency in our work for lack of proper qualifications, or because of our awkwardness. Some do not understand our way of life or our charity to the poor and so they criticize us. Even so Christ was despised by the very cream of his own nation, the chief priests and the Pharisees.
"So we are blessed again in sharing the same lot as Christ, though in a very small way."
"There are three signs of genuine humility; see if you possess these:
- Deference, respect, and obedience towards your superiors.
- The joyous acceptance of all humiliations.
- Charity towards your Sisters, particularly towards those who are poor and humble."
"What is Not Humility:
- Neediness when humiliated, when corrected.
- Trying always to excuse oneself.
- Refusing to acknowledge one's fault, even dishonestly.
- Putting the blame on somebody.
- Ambition to acquire praise.
- Yearning to be in charge of everything, to control all."
Ways of Becoming Humble
"The season of Advent is like springtime in nature, when everything is renewed and so is fresh and healthy. Advent is also meant to do this to us -- to refresh us and make us healthy, to be able to receive Christ in whatever form he may come to us.
"At Christmas, he comes as a little child, so small, so helpless, so much in need of his mother and all that a mother's love can give. It was his mother's humility that helped her to do the works of handmaid to Christ -- God from God, true God from true God. Let us see and touch the greatness that fills the depths of their humility. We cannot do better than Jesus and Mary. If we really want God to fill us, we must empty ourselves through humility of all that is selfishness in us.
"Let us beg from our Lady to make our hearts "meek and humble" as her Son's was. It was from her and in her that the heart of Jesus was formed. Let us all try during this month to practise humility and meekness. We learn humility through accepting humiliations cheerfully. Do not let a chance pass you by. It is so very easy to be proud, harsh, moody, and selfish -- so
easy. But we have been created for greater things; why stoop down to things that will spoil the beauty of our hearts? How much we can learn from our Lady! She was so humble because she was all for God. She was full of grace. She made use of the almighty power that was in her, the grace of God.
"Let us really take the trouble to learn from the lesson of holiness from Jesus, whose heart was meek and humble. The first lesson from this heart is our examination of conscience, and the rest -- love and service -- follow at once. Examination is not our work alone, but a partnership between us and Jesus. We should not waste our time in useless looks at our own miseries, but should lift our hearts to God and let his light enlighten us and make him to have his way with us.
"How will I become humble? By humiliations that come to me, by accepting myself as I am, and by rejoicing at infirmity. Naturally we don't like this, but confidence in God can do all things. It is our emptiness and lowliness that God needs and not our plentitude. A fervent Sister is conscious of her own weakness and tries to be happy when others see her weakness."
"These are the few ways we can practise humility:
- To speak as little as possible of oneself.
- To mind one's own business.
- Not to want to manage other people's affairs.
- To avoid curiosity.
- To accept contradiction and correction cheerfully.
- To pass over the mistakes of others.
- To accept insults and injuries.
- To accept being slighted, forgotten and disliked.
- Not to seek to be specially loved and admired.
- To be kind and gentle even under provocation.
- Never to stand on one's dignity.
- To yield in discussion even though one is right.
- To choose always the hardest."
(See also Mother of All Virtues II and C.S. Lewis' article on The Great Sin.)