Humility

The following is an excerpt from the Marian Press book 52 Weeks with St. Faustina by Donna-Marie Cooper O’Boyle:

“Today, as God’s Majesty swept over me, my soul understood that the Lord, so very great though He is, delights in humble souls.” — Diary, 1092

Indeed, the Lord delights in humble souls. Saint Faustina wrote in her Diary: “The more a soul humbles itself, the greater the kindness with which the Lord approaches it. Uniting himself closely with it, He raises it to His very throne. Happy is the soul whom the Lord himself defends. I have come to know that only love is of any value; love is greatness; nothing, no works, can compare with a single act of pure love of God” (Diary, 1092). This week’s spiritual exercise is all about humility. Let’s take a look at this virtue, which is absolutely necessary for salvation, and let’s see how it grew in Sr. Faustina’s heart.

Jesus taught in the Beatitudes: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Mt 5:3). It was C.S. Lewis who said, “As long as you are proud you cannot know God.” We must strive to be humble souls. Even so, humility is said to be one of the most difficult virtues to acquire. Yet we must be humble in order to pray properly. For instance, contemplative prayer, which St. Teresa of Avila has said is simply a “close sharing between friends,” is a loving conversation between ourselves and God, a conversation that requires of us humble hearts (see Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2709). As the Catechism states, contemplative prayer is “the simplest expression of the mystery of prayer. It is a gift, a grace; it can be accepted only in humility and poverty” (2713). The Catechism also teaches that contemplative prayer “is a gaze of faith, fixed on Jesus” (2715, emphasis in original). We must humble our hearts and seek God in all of our prayers. In humility, we must take time to adore God, praise Him, and love Him.

Saint James taught, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble” (Jas 4:6). Saint Alphonsus Maria de Liguori reiterated that fact. He said, “Prayer must be humble: God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble ... The prayer of the man that humbleth himself shall pierce the clouds ... and he will not depart till the Most High behold. The prayer of a humble soul at once penetrates the heavens and presents itself before the throne of God, and will not depart thence till God regards it and listens to it. However sinful such a soul may be, God can never despise a heart that repents of its sins, and humbles itself: A contrite and humbled heart, O God, Thou wilt not despise.”

Humility is a precious virtue in the spiritual life. The devil absolutely hates humility. He flees from it. He can’t get his way with a humble soul. Saint Vincent de Paul said, “The most powerful weapon to conquer the devil is humility. For, as he does not know at all how to employ it, neither does he know how to defend himself from it.”

The Lord Delights in Humble Souls

One time St. Faustina told her Lord Jesus that she wished to be hidden from everyone but Him: “I want to be a tiny violet, hidden in the grass, unknown in a magnificent enclosed garden in which beautiful lilies and roses grow.” She explained that the “beautiful rose and the lovely lily can be seen from afar, but in order to see the little violet, one has to bend low; only its scent gives it away” (Diary, 591). Saint Faustina wanted her soul to be firmly rooted in God.

Her confessor Fr. Sopoćko told her, “Without humility, we cannot be pleasing to God” (Diary, 270). Sister Faustina came to realize the secret in learning true humility. She wrote, “He who wants to learn true humility should reflect upon the Passion of Jesus. When I meditate upon the Passion of Jesus, I get a clear understanding of many things I could not comprehend before.” Sister Faustina understood that she should strive to imitate and even resemble Jesus. She continued in her Diary, “I want to resemble You, O Jesus, — You crucified, tortured and humiliated. Jesus, imprint upon my heart and soul Your own humility. I love You Jesus ... “ (267).

At one point, Fr. Sopoćko told Sr. Faustina to practice the third degree of humility. He said, “Not only must one refrain from explaining and defending oneself when reproached with something, but one should rejoice at the humiliation” (Diary, 270). Indeed, Sr. Faustina got a taste of this very practice early in religious life, when she remained completely humble one day during an exceedingly painful trial. It happened that when Sr. Faustina was still a postulant working in the kitchen, a certain Sr. Marcjanna Oswiecimska became annoyed with her and punished her by ordering her under obedience to sit on a table. Sister Faustina was forbidden to speak or to get off the table. Meanwhile, the older sister continued to clean up the kitchen. Sister Faustina would later write about the burning shame she felt, especially over not being able to defend herself. “And while I was sitting there, the sisters came along and were astounded to find me sitting on the table, and each one had her say. One said that I was a loafer and another, ‘What an eccentric!’” Sister Faustina suffered terribly. She wrote, “God alone knows how many acts of self-denial it took. I thought I’d die of shame.” Sister Faustina would indeed learn from her experiences. She continued, “God often allowed such things for the sake of my inner formation, but He compensated me for this humiliation by a great consolation.” She explained that during Benediction, she saw Him in “great beauty.” Her Lord and Savior looked at her kindly and said, “My daughter, do not be afraid of sufferings; I am with you” (Diary, 151). Jesus’ words penetrated her heart with immense consolation.

Something to Ponder

We can learn a lot about humility from the saints. Saint Augustine said, “Humility is the foundation of all the other virtues, hence, in the soul in which this virtue does not exist there cannot be any other virtue except in mere appearance.” We should ask ourselves, “Am I humble? Can I pray to be so?” Saint Faustina wrote:

O my Jesus, nothing is better for the soul than humiliations. In contempt is the secret of happiness, when the soul recognizes that, of itself, it is only wretchedness and nothingness, and that whatever it possesses of good is a gift of God. When the soul sees that everything is given it freely and that the only thing it has of itself is its own misery, this is what sustains it in a continual act of humble prostration before the majesty of God. And God, seeing the soul in such a disposition, pursues it with His graces. As the soul continues to immerse itself more deeply into the abyss of its nothingness and need, God uses His omnipotence to exalt it. If there is a truly happy soul upon earth, it can only be a truly humble soul. At first, one’s self-love suffers greatly on this account, but after a soul has struggled courageously, God grants it much light by which it sees how wretched and full of deception everything is. God alone is in its heart. A humble soul does not trust itself, but places all its confidence in God. God defends the humble soul and lets Himself into its secrets, and the soul abides in unsurpassable happiness which no one can comprehend (Diary, 593).

Saint Francis de Sales reminds us, “To be pleased at correction and reproofs shows that one loves the virtues which are contrary to those faults for which he is corrected and reproved. And, therefore, it is a great sign of advancement in perfection.” Saint Augustine pointed out, “It was pride that changed angels into devils; it is humility that makes men as angels.” Those are powerful words to ponder in our hearts. As discussed above, St. Faustina also said that she learned true humility while meditating on the Passion of Jesus. Do your best to make time this week for meditating on Jesus’ Passion.

A Merciful Action

Take time to prayerfully consider a merciful deed that you can carry out towards someone who has humiliated you in some way. Or, if the merciful deed can’t, for whatever reason, be given to someone who is a source of humiliation, then offer a deed of mercy in secret to an unsuspecting person. Tell Jesus that you do it out of love for Him. Don’t wait — do it!

A Prayer of Mercy for This Week

(To be prayed each day this week.)

Dear Merciful Jesus, You love the humble-hearted. Please make my heart humble and loving like Yours. Mother Mary, teach me humility! Saint Faustina, please pray for me. Jesus, I trust in You! Amen.

You can order 52 Weeks with St. Faustina by Donna-Marie Cooper O’Boyle here:

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