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The Humility of the Last


Never think we have a due knowledge of ourselves till we have been exposed to various kinds of temptations, and tried on every side.

Saint André Bessette

Integrity on one side of our character is no voucher for integrity on another.  We cannot tell how we should act if brought under temptations different from those which we have hitherto experienced.  This thought should keep us humble.  We are sinners, but we do not know how great.  He alone knows who died our sins...

The best men are ever the most humble; for, having a higher standard of excellence in their minds than others have, and knowing themselves better, they see somewhat of the breadth and depth of their own sinful nature, and are shocked and frightened at themselves...

But let a man persevere in prayer and watchfulness to the day of his death, yet he will never get to the bottom of his heart.  Though he knows more and more of himself as he becomes more conscientious and earnest, still the full manifestation of the secrets there lodged, is reserved for another world.

Doubtless we must all endure that fierce and terrifying vision of our real selves, that last fiery trial of the soul before its acceptance, a spiritual agony and second death to all who are not then supported by the strength of him who died to bring them safe through it, and in whom on earth they have believed.



John Henry Cardinal Newman. "The Humility of the Last." excerpt from Parochial and Plain Sermons (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1997).

As represented in Magnificat.

The Author

newman72newman71Blessed John Henry Newman was born on 21 February 1801, and died on 11 August 1890. Through his published writings and private correspondence he created a greater understanding of the Catholic Church and its teachings, helping many persons with their religious difficulties. At his death he was praised for his unworldliness, humility, and prayerful contact with the invisible world. Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman is the author of many books including, Parochial and Plain Sermons, Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine, An Essay in Aid of a Grammar of Assent, Difficulties of Anglicans, The Idea of a University, Fifteen Sermons Preached Before the University of Oxford Between A.D. 1826 and 1843, and Apologia Pro Vita Sua.

Copyright © Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman
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