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There’s That Word Again

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Above all, remember that God looks for solid virtues in us, such as patience, humility, obedience, abnegation of your own will - that is, the good will to serve Him and our neighbor in Him.” ~ Saint Ignatius

We’re reminded once again in today’s Gospel (Matthew 18:1-5, 10, 12-14) that child-like humility is the virtue that Jesus profoundly values and cherishes, so much so that one could say that it is truly the key that opens the door to the Kingdom.

“Amen, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will not enter the Kingdom of heaven” Jesus tells those disciples who approached him, going on to say “whoever becomes humble like this child is the greatest in the Kingdom of heaven.”

Humility. . . . the act of being humble.

Over the last few weeks, the daily readings and Gospel passages have provided the faithful with a virtual treasure trove of humble people performing humble works, with Jesus more often than not cast in the starring role. It is from his example, he from whom the perfect fountain of humility springs, that we may draw our strength.

Webster defines humility as simply “a modest or low view of one’s own importance.” Saint Padre Pio firmly believed that holiness could only be borne out of a life rooted in humility. He would say “You must always humble yourself lovingly before God and before men, because God speaks only to those who are truly humble and He enriches them with His gifts.“ He believed that as the gifts of the Holy Spirit grew within you, it was critical to make sure that one allowed one’s humility to grow in lock step, for a true disciple of Jesus knew that everything he or she has is given to them “on loan,” as he was fond of saying.

Our Blessed Mother Mary, in her seminal moment, was quick to declare herself “the handmaid of the Lord,” accepting his divine will in her life with great joy and fearlessness. The sinless vessel through which our Savior would enter the world was indeed the very model of humility. Saint Augustine once said that humility is in fact at the foundation of all the other virtues. It was his belief that a souls devoid of humility could not possess any of the other virtues, except in mere appearance.

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So how does one cultivate this virtue? Well, for starters, you’ve gotta pray for it. No virtue is ever formed in our souls except through frequent prayer. Next, we must seek obedience as a way of life, not only to God but to legitimate superiors in our lives as well. Yes, like it or not. We must “give to Caesar that which belongs to Caesar.” (Matthew 22:21). We must then eschew self-reliance and, for all intents and purposes, essentially acknowledge our nothingness.

For without God, we are nothing.

Oh God, who resists the proud and gives grace to the humble: grant us the virtue of true humility, where of Your Only-begotten son showed in Himself a pattern for Your faithful, he who humbled himself to share in our flawed and sinful humanity. By our meekness May we grow in holiness so as to receive the riches of Your grace.” ~ Amen

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