Humility in Word vs Deed

January 27, 2022 • 2 min

From The Spirit of St. Francis de Sales, page 150
By His friend, Jean Pierre Camus, Bishop of Belley

UPON MERE HUMBLENESS OF SPEECH.

He disliked expressions of humility unless they clearly came from the heart, and said that words of this kind were the flower, the cream, and the quintessence of the most subtle pride, subtle inasmuch as it was hidden even from him who spoke them. He compared such language to a certain sublimated and penetrating poison, which to the eye seems merely a mist.

Those who speak this language of false humility are lifted up on high, whilst in thoughts and motives they remain mean and low. He considered similar fashions of speech to be even more intolerable than the words of vain persons who are the sport of their hearers, and whose empty boasting makes them to be like balloons, the plaything of everybody. A mocking laugh is sufficient to let all the wind which puffs them out escape. Words of humility coming merely from the lips, and not from the heart, lead surely to vanity, though by what seems the wrong road. Those who utter them are like people who take their salary gladly enough, but insist on first making a show of refusing and of saying that they want nothing.

Even excuses proffered in this manner accuse and betray the person who offers them. The truly humble of heart do not wish to appear humble, but to be humble. Humility is so delicate a virtue that it is afraid of its own shadow, and cannot hear its own name uttered without running the risk of extinction.

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