"God has not called me to be successful. He has called me to be faithful." -- Mother Theresa
"IN PARADISE THERE ARE MANY SAINTS who never gave alms on earth: their poverty justified them. There are many Saints who never mortified their bodies by fasting, or wearing hair shirts: their bodily infirmities excused them. There are many Saints too who were not virgins: their vocation was otherwise. But in Paradise there is no Saint who was not humble.
"God banished angels from Heaven for their pride; therefore how can we pretend to enter therein, if we do not keep ourselves in a state of humility? Without humility, says St. Peter Damian, not even the Virgin Mary herself with her incomparable virginity could have entered into the glory of Christ, and we ought to be convinced of this truth that, though destitute of some of the other virtues, we may yet be saved, but never without humility."
Thus began the first chapter, Thoughts and Sentiments on Humility Part I, of an amazingly insightful book that i had bought from the parish book store a few months ago. It is a translated version of Fr. Cajetan Mary da Bergamo's Humility of Heart.
HOW ASTONISHINGLY SIMILAR are the exhortations of Fr. Cajetan and Mother Theresa on this subject of humility! They seem to echo each other:
The Most Important Virtue
"... Jesus Christ calls us all into His school to learn, not to work miracles nor to astonish the world by marvelous enterprises, but to be humble of heart. 'Learn of Me, because I am meek and humble of heart.' [Matt 11:29] He has not called everyone to be doctors, preachers or priests, nor has He bestowed on all the gift of restoring sight to the blind, healing the sick, raising the dead or casting out devils, but to all He has said: 'Learn of Me to be humble of heart,' and to all He has given the power to learn humility of Him. Innumerable things are worthy of imitation in the Incarnate Son of God, but He only asks us to imitate His humility. What then? Must we suppose that all the treasures of Divine Wisdom which were in Christ are to be reduced to the virtue of humility? 'So it certainly is,' answers St. Augustine. Humility contains all things because in this virtue is truth; therefore God must also dwell therein, since He is the truth.
"The Savior might have said: 'Learn of Me to be chaste, humble, prudent, just, wise, abstemious, etc.' But He only says: 'Learn of Me, because I am meek and humble of heart'; and in humility alone He includes all things, because, as St. Thomas so truly says, 'Acquired humility is in a certain sense the greatest good.' [Lib. de sancta virginit. c. xxxv] Therefore whoever possesses this virtue may be said, as to his proximate disposition, to possess all virtues, and he who lacks it, lacks all.
The Divine Virtue
"... Humility is in reality a confession of the greatness of God.... Humility is a virtue that belongs essentially to Christ, not only as man, but more especially as God, because with God to be good, holy and merciful is not virtue but nature, and humility is only a virtue. God cannot exalt Himself above what He is, in His most high Being, nor can He increase His vast and infinite greatness; but He can humiliate Himself as in fact He did humiliate and lower Himself. "He humbled Himself, He emptied Himself," [Phil 2:7,8] revealing Himself to us, through His humility, as the Lord of all virtues, the conqueror of the world, of death, Hell and sin.
Types of Humility
"... There is a kind of humility which is of counsel and of perfection such as that which desires and seeks the contempt of others; but there is also a humility which is of necessity and of precept, without which, says Christ, we cannot enter into the kingdom of Heaven: 'Thou shalt not enter into the kingdom of Heaven.' [Matt 18:3] And this consists in not esteeming ourselves and in not wishing to be esteemed by others above what we really are.
The Importance of Knowledge
"... The following was the frequent prayer of St Augustine, 'Noscam Te, noscam me -- May I know Thee; may I know myself!' and by this prayer he asked for humility, which is nothing else but a true knowledge of God and of oneself. To confess that God is what He is, the Omnipotent, 'Greatis the Lord, and exceedingly to be praised', and to declare that we are but nothingness before Him: 'My substance is as nothing before Thee' -- this is to be humble.
"... There is no saint however holy and innocent who may not truly consider himself the greatest sinner in the world.... so far a sI am concerned I am quite capable of committing all kinds of sin, and if I do not commit them it is through a a special grace of God which preserves and restrains me.
Examen of Conscience
"... When St. Augustine made his examen of conscience, he did not always find sufficient to excite within him sorrow and contrition, so he dwelt on those sins which he might or would have committed had he not been preserved from them by God's infinite mercy; and he grieved and accused himself and humbly implored pardon of God for the evil capacity he had to commit all kinds of heinous and impious sins. In this practice is to be found an exercise of true humility.
"It has often happened that those who were more perfect than others have shamefully fallen, and this after a long period of good and virtuous works, showing the marvelous things that a man can do when able if abandoned to himself and left to the weakness of his own free-will.
The Elusive Virtue
"... however much a man may exercise humility, he can never form any judgment as to his being really humble, for he who thinks himself humble is no longer so.
"... Let us pray to God with the prophet: "Let not the foot of pride come to me." [Ps. xxxv, 12] Grant, O my God, that I may be humble, but that I may not know that I am humble. Make me holy, yet ignorant of holiness; for if I should learn to know or even to imagine myself holy, I should become vain; and through vanity should lose all humility and holiness."