Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Lesson in Humility

One of the most important virtues is humility.  It is one I struggle to make part of my life.  But how does one develop humility?  I found a couple of stories about  the Elder Ieronymos of Aegina that gave me some clues.  Here is the first one.


Once he was traveling to Piraeus on a ship named The Enchantress.  As usual he sat somewhere off to the side and prayed.  Suddenly he was approached by the captain who said to him, "Priest, get up from here and sit further on."
Father Ieronymos humbly and obediently conformed to this command.  But shortly afterward the captain ordered him to change his place again.  The same thing was repeated a third time.  The captain's attitude was very provocative.  The other passengers were indignant and made a remark to him about why he had behaved is such a manner to a venerable elder, who after all had paid his ticket.  And the captain answered, "My mother told me that whenever I see refugees I should throw them into the sea."

Father Ieronymos was grieved when he heard this, but said nothing.  He only decided never to travel on this ship again, in order  to avoid temptation.  But he prayed fervently for the captain and implored God to enlighten him.  On another occasion, however, he had to travel to Piraeus and there was no other ship except The Enchantress.  He said prayers, boarded the ship, and sat in some corner.  He hoped that the captain would not see him, so that he could avoid the pointless temptation.  But eventually the captain passed by and saw him and approached him.
"Do you have a ticket?" he asked.
"Yes, I do."
"Give it to me and I'll return it."
He took the ticket and returned to him the amount that he had paid, saying, "My mother scolded me and told me never to take money from you again.  From now on, come aboard whenever you want and travel for free."  the humility and prayer of Father Ieronymos––and possibly some vision that his mother had seen–– subdued the proud captain.

from The Elder Ieronymos of Aegina by Peter Botsis, pp.155-156

6 comments:

  1. It is such a good point, how does one develop humility? It is so hard. For one thing, you have to constantly keep yourself in check and then you have to keep yourself in check from the temptations others impose on you ... its a constant struggle. So difficult, sometimes we are so humble but we dont know it ... and then comes the paradox for as soon as we see we are humble - we are not!

    Sigh.

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  2. Its so true what you say. Humility not something we seek, but something we can be with a "pure" heart.
    For me the struggle is with negative thoughts. This is the root of my pride. They lift me up above others in my own mind. It's how i tell myself how much better I am than others. When I can block these negative thoughts, and replace them with a thought of love, my disposition towards the other person changes.
    When I asked my confessor about how to do this, he said, "You have to decide not to accept the negative thoughts, then they will stop. Pray for help."
    Like you say it is a struggle :o)

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  3. My dear husband tells me, STAY POSITIVE. He also says that the key word is STAY. I find that extremely hard. LOL

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  4. You are so right. STAY. It is so easy to be tempted with negative thoughts. Its can be a fierce struggle. This is where the practice of the Jesus Pray can help as it becomes available to you to fight these temptations.

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  5. What an important message. I am going through a situation right now in which my thoughts have vacillated between "I'm too good for this!" to "I'm a complete failure and have embarrassed myself." I now see that I need to pray for those who have criticized me, and ask for their forgiveness (even if it is through God in prayer).

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