Friday, September 10, 2010

Humility Revisited - A Confession

I don't really feel qualified to write on the subject of humility because pride is my main weakness.  But, due to my lack of humility, I will anyway. 

Pride is a lack of humility. So, in a sense, maybe I do know something about humility in a back-handed way.  Pride seems to me to be the result of my dependence on my own will, seeing myself as the center of everything, the place where I control my life.  When faced with a choice where do I go to make a decision?  Do I seek input from others?  Do I seek guidance from God?  I must say, all too often, my choice is based on my own inner thoughts and the result is one that favors my own self-gratification.  I often feel trapped by the desires of my own being and the comforts offered by this world. I truly tend to seek pleasure and avoid pain. To give up my own pleasures and endure discomfort or pain for the benefit of others or my God is not an easy choice. To accept that I am not the king of my own world, that I do not control it, is difficult.  But this is what humility calls me to accept.

Elder Marcaius helps us gain a proper perspective on this topic of humility. He says,
You should know by now that great storms of passion are allowed to assail us whenever we have been indulging pride, self-adulation, high opinions of our own intellectual powers; or when we have pandered to the vicious pleasure of humbling others, intentionally.  The medicine is simple: humility, a sincere humbling of self.  This alone can bring relief: through meekness––harbinger of peace.
Humility is not difficult to understand.  It is no more than accepting that I am in fact limited in my own ability to make rational choices on my own that are consistent with the God's commandments.  I have no special possession of truth or what is best for me or others.  When I can accept that I am a limited creature, that I owe my existence to an all powerful God, that I am created in His image, and I and everyone else are struggling with the same temptations and possessing to differing degrees pride, then maybe I will begin to walk a path toward humility.

In the end I know I will be forcefully humbled by death.  Hopefully before this event I will come to terms with this virtue.  Humility is the same as love for it is only with humility that I can truly love another.

Saint John Climacus says,
Love and humility form a holy pair; what the first builds, the second binds, thus preventing the building from falling asunder.
Jesus gave us two commandments––to love God with our whole heart and to love others as ourselves.  To follow as his disciple I have no choice but to learn about humility.  Only with humility will I gain His grace which will empower me to overcome all earthly temptations as well as the sorrows of this worldly life.  Knowing that I am not in control, in a strange way, leads me to humility, peace and love.

Lord Have Mercy.

Reference: Russian Letters of Spiritual Direction, pp 47-48


  1. Yes Fr Dn Charles, I think you speak for most of us. Humility is like sand in our hands. We know it, we know it is important, we think that it can't be that hard, but "There it goes again, right through my fingers." It seems like humility needs to operate below the surface, or in the heart by grace through surrender, because as soon as I think about it or ask myself how I am doing, I notice that I am operating with pride.

    And just an aside, judging by your posts, I think you are far more humble than you let on. Thanks for being an instrument of the Lord and leading many others deeper into the heart of Christ through you blog. Peace be with you.

    Dennis J.,

  2. Thanks for your comments, Dennis. You make a good point. I find the same thing, especially in prayer. As soon as I think I an=m doing a good job of concentrating in prayer my prayer is over. Pride separates us from God every time.

  3. " ... or when we have pandered to the vicious pleasure of humbling others, intentionally."

    Ouch! Yes, I have learned this from bitter experience. Doubtless, I will have to relearn it many times. I fall down, I get up, I fall down, I get up, I fall down, I get up . . . (and only with God's help). Pride is a slithery beast, insidious in its nature--only Christ can tame it and cast it out by His love.

    Thank you, Fr. Dn. Charles, for your wonderful selections and thoughtful reflections! They are definitely a help on this journey.


  4. Thank you Karen for your comments. The journey is never ending.

  5. Fr Dn Charles,

    I read your blog daily and always follow the recommended other reading, hence my finding this older post. "Older" I suppose is not accurate - "Timely" would be more so.

    I am going through a severe struggle trying to figure out why and where I am so prideful. My own pride has seemingly masked itself as humility in my own understanding of myself and I find this falseness unbearable and terribly difficult to overcome.

    Thank you for all your efforts on this blog - they are truly helping this sinful soul.

    Please pray for me.



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