General considerations to cure pride and obtain humility

November 5, 2021 • 4 min

From The Sinner’s Guide, page 332

If you find yourself inclined to take pride in a good action, carefully watch the feelings of your heart, bearing in mind that this satisfaction and vain-glory will destroy all the merit of your labor.

Attribute no good to yourself, but refer everything to God. Repress all suggestions of pride with the beautiful words of the great Apostle: “What hast thou that thou hast not received? And if thou hast received, why dost thou glory as if thou hadst not received it?” [1 Cor. iv. 7.]

When your good works are practices of supererogation or perfection, unless your position requires you to give an example, do not let your right hand know what your left hand does, for vain-glory is more easily excited by good works done in public.

When you feel sentiments of vanity or pride rising in your heart hasten to apply a remedy immediately.

One that is most efficacious consists in recalling to mind all your sins, particularly the most shameful. Like a wise physician, you will thus counteract the effect of one poison by another.

Imitate the peacock, and when you feel yourself inflated with pride turn your eyes upon your greatest deformity, and your vanity will soon fall to the ground.

The greater your position the greater should be your humility, for there is not much merit in being humble in poverty and obscurity.

If you know how to preserve humility in the midst of honors and dignities you will acquire real merit and virtue, for humility in the midst of greatness is the grandest accompaniment of honors, the dignity of dignities, without which there is no true excellence.

If you sincerely desire to acquire humility you must courageously enter the path of humiliation, for if you will not endure humiliations you will never become humble. Though many are humbled without diminishing their pride, humiliation, as St. Bernard tells us, is nevertheless the path to humility, as patience is the path to peace, and study to learning.

Be not satisfied, therefore, with humbly obeying God, but be subject to all creatures for love of Him. [1 St. Peter ii. 13.]

In another place St. Bernard speaks of three kinds of fear with which he would have us guard our hearts. “Fear,” he says, “when you are in possession of grace, lest you may do something unworthy of it; fear when you have lost grace, because you are deprived of a strong protection; and fear when you have recovered grace, lest you should again lose it.” Thus you will never trust to your own strength; the fear of God which will fill your heart will save you from presumption.

Be patient in bearing persecution, for the patient endurance of affronts is the touchstone of true humility.

Never despise the poor and abject, for their misery should move us to compassion rather than contempt.

Be not too eager for rich apparel, for humility is incompatible with a love of display. One who is too solicitous about his dress is a slave to the opinions of men, for he certainly would not expend so much labor upon it if he thought he would not be observed.

Beware, however, of going to the other extreme and dressing in a manner unsuited to your position. While claiming to despise the approbation or notice of the world, many secretly strive for it by their singularity and exaggerated simplicity.

Finally, do not disdain humble and obscure employments. Only the proud seek to avoid these, for the man of true humility deems nothing in the world beneath him.

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