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Humility cannot be in knowledge only, but must also be in the will

2 min • Digitized on January 28, 2022

From The Spirit of St. Francis de Sales, page 151
By His friend, Jean Pierre Camus, Bishop of Belley


Blessed Francis set the highest value upon the virtue of humility, which he called the foundation of all moral virtues, and together with charity, the solid basis of true piety.

He used to say that there was no moral excellence more literally christian than humility, because it was not known even by name to the heathen of old. Even of the most renowned among ancient philosophers, such virtues as they possessed were inflated with pride and self-love.

Not every kind of humility pleased him. He was not willing to accept any as true metal until he had put it to many a test and trial.

1. He required in the first place that there should be genuine self-knowledge. To be truly humble we must recognise the fact that we come from nothing, that we are nothing, that we can do nothing, that we are worth nothing, and in fine that we are idle do-nothings, unprofitable servants, incapable of even forming a single good thought, as of ourselves.

Yet self-knowledge, he said, if it stood alone, however praiseworthy in itself, would only render those who possessed it the more guilty if they did not act up to it, in order to become better; because moral virtue being in the will, and mere knowledge only in the understanding, the latter alone cannot in any way pass current as true virtue.

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