Humility, the foundation of all virtues, especially of charity, and its fruits.

Humility, the foundation of all virtues, especially of charity, and its fruits.

Humility is at the root of all the virtues, and without it none of them can be developed.

  • Without humility everything else is like a huge heap of hay which we have piled up, but which with the first gust of wind is blown over and scattered far and wide.
  • The devil has little respect for those devotions which are not founded on humility, because he knows well that he can get rid of them whenever he pleases.
  • There is no possibility of sanctity without an effective struggle to acquire this virtue; without it, it is not even possible to develop an authentic human personality.
  • Furthermore, a humble person has a special facility for making friends, even with people of very different tastes and of varying age-groups, which is a great help in all kinds of personal apostolate.

Humility is, in a very special way, the basis of charity.

  • It gives it consistency and makes it possible: the dwelling place of charity is humility, says St Augustine. To the extent that a person can forget about self, he can take an interest in other people and attend to their needs.
  • Many sins against charity have been provoked by previous faults of vanity, pride, selfishness and the desire to stand out from among others. And thus these two virtues, humility and charity, are the mother virtues; the others follow as chickens do the mother hen.

A humble person hates to put on airs, ‘to show off.

  • He knows well that he is not in the position he occupies, whatever it is, in order to shine or to receive compliments, but to serve, to carry out a mission. Do not sit down in a place of honour …, but when you are invited, go and sit in the lowest place.
  • And if a Christian is to be found among the places of honour, occupying a preeminent position, he knows that this position of excellence has been given to him by God so that he may become useful to others, from which it follows that in as much as the witness of others ought to be pleasing to him, so much the more should he contribute to their good.
  • We ought to be in our proper place, always conscious that we are in the presence of God and resolutely refusing to allow our judgement to be distorted by ambition. Much less should we let ourselves be propelled by vanity into a mad scramble for higher and higher positions for which, perhaps, we have not the competence, and which later on will lead to humiliation, thereby creating in ourselves the dismaying conviction that we have got ourselves into a situation for which our gifts have not fitted us. This does not mean that God has not called us to make the best use of our talents and to make many sacrifices in using our time well.

On the contrary, humility is opposed to a lack of the right intention in one’s work, a lack that is a clear symptom of pride.

  • The humble person knows his place, however exalted or lowly it be.
  • He feels he belongs there and is happy in his work.
  • He knows his limitations and possibilities, and does not allow himself to be deceived by mere ambition.
  • His qualifications are the right ones for his job, to a greater or lesser degree: he is never a dead weight, holding others back.
  • He carries out his work as well as he might, as a member of a team.

Another manifestation of humility is the avoidance of negative judgements about other people.

  • The knowledge of our own weakness will prevent us from entertaining a bad thought about anyone, even if the words or conduct of the person in question give good grounds for doing so.
  • We look on others with respect and understanding which, when necessary, will naturally and normally lead to fraternal correction.

Excerpt from In Conversation with God, vol. 1, 27.2.


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