Friday, October 22, 2010

All the good that is in us comes from God

"Humility is charitable, interpreting all things for the best and pitying and excusing the faults of others as much as possible. For this reason St. Peter, wishing to exhort us to love and have compassion upon our fellow-creatures, also exhorts us at the same time to be humble: "Having compassion one of another, being lovers of the brotherhood-----humble," [1 Pet. iii, 8] for there can be no charity without humility, and therefore to censure and criticize too readily the actions of our neighbors and to judge and speak ill of them are vices which are directly opposed to the virtue of humility. Who has given me the power to judge my brethren? When I thus constitute myself their judge and in the tribunal of my thoughts condemn first one and then another, I am usurping an authority I do not possess and which belongs to God alone: "For God is Judge." [Ps. xlix, 6] And if this is not pride, what is pride? In punishment of such arrogance God often permits us to fall into the very faults that we have condemned in others, and it is well for us to remember the teaching of St. Paul: "Wherefore thou art inexcusable, O man, whosoever thou art that judgest. For wherein thou judgest another thou condemnest thyself." [Rom. ii, 1] There is always some pharisaical pride in the heart of him who judges and speaks evil of others, because in belittling others he exalts himself. It is in vain that we try hard cover our evil-speaking under ,the veil of some good motive; it must always be the result of pride which is quick to find out the weaknesses of others while remaining blind to its own.

If we are guilty of pride let us try and amend and not flatter ourselves that we possess the smallest degree of humility, until by our good resolutions carefully carried out we have mortified our evil tendency to speak ill of our neighbor. Let us hearken to the Holy Ghost: "Where pride is there also shall be reproach, but where humility is there also is wisdom." [Prov. xi, 2]

The proud man is scornful and arrogant in his speech; and the humble alone knows how to speak well and wisely. If there is humility in the heart it will be manifested in the speech, because "A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good."  [Luke vi, 45] 

But in order to acquire humility, it is necessary also to be prudent in not speaking well of oneself. "Let another praise thee," says the inspired word, "and not thy own mouth, a stranger and not thy own lips." [Prov. xxvii, 11]

It is very easy for us to fall into this fault of praising ourselves "Until it becomes a habit, and with this habit so opposed to humility how can we be humble?

What good qualities have we of our own for which we can praise ourselves? All the good that is in us comes from God, and to Him alone we must give praise and honor. When, therefore, we praise ourselves we are usurping glory which is due to God alone. Even though in praising ourselves we sometimes refer all to the honor of God, it matters little; when there is no absolute necessity it is better to abstain from self-praise, for although we refer all to the glory of God with our lips, our ingenious and subtle self-love cannot fail to appropriate it secretly. And even speaking depreciatingly of ourselves there may lurk some hypocritical pride in our words, such as was mentioned by the sage of old when he said: "There is one that humbleth himself wickedly, and his interior is full of deceit." [Ecclus xix, 23]

Therefore we can never watch over ourselves enough, because there is nothing that teaches us so well to know the pride of our heart as our words, with which we either reveal or hide the depravity of our affections. And this is the characteristic of the proud, according to St. Bernard: "One who boastfully proclaims what he is, or lies about what he is not." [Epist. lxxxvii]

Let us bear in heart and mind this precious advice given by Tobias to his son: "Never suffer pride to reign in thy mind or in thy words." [Tob. iv, 14] The words of a proud man are nauseous, whether he speaks of himself or others, and they are hated both by God and man: therefore we should detest this vice, not only from the Christian but also from the human standpoint."

-- Humility of Heart by Fr Cajetan Mary da Bergamo

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