If one asks: "How am I to become humble?" the immediate answer is "by the grace of God," and that is indeed the truth.
Only the grace of God can give us the insight into our own condition and realization of his exaltation that make for humility. But even though it be a grace, it is a grace with which we must cooperate. The first thing to do is to ask in prayer for the grace of humility, and to ask sincerely. The second thing is to accept humiliations when they come our way; but, let us never forget that there is an enormous difference between being humble and being humiliated. The next thing is to accept as lovingly as we can our own limitations, our own defects, our own lowliness; and even to be resigned — if we cannot be glad — when these shortcomings become known to others. Human nature being what it is, all this is not easy; in fact, without confidence in God, it is morally impossible.
Confidence and humility always go together. One of the reasons why people are so anxious to exalt themselves — to overestimate their own value and their own powers — to resent anything that would tend to lower themselves in their own esteem or in that of others — is because they see no other hope for their happiness except in themselves. That is often why they are so "touchy," so resentful of criticism, so impatient of opposition, so insistent on getting their own way, so eager to be known, so anxious for praise, so determined on ruling their surroundings….
The attitude of the one who has true Christian humility is just the opposite. His hope is placed in God; he sees no hope in himself. He has not to worry about getting his own way; all that matters is that God should get his way. He knows that the less he has to do with the arranging of things, the more likely is it that things will turn out for the best. He is by no means spineless or inert. On the contrary, let him but once be certain that God wills him to undertake a particular work, and he will tackle it, no matter what it may be, because he knows his sufficiency is from God. He knows his life is a partnership [and] he trusts with unshaken confidence in God.
Dom Eugene Boylan, O.C.R. "How to Be Humble." from This Tremendous Lover (Notre Dame, IN: Ave Maria Press, 1977).
This excerpt appeared in Magnificat.
Dom Eugene Boylan, O.C.R., (1904-1964) was an Irish-born Trappist monk and writer. He is the author of This Tremendous Lover and Difficulties in Mental Prayer, which became international bestsellers and were translated into many languages. In 1962 he was elected the fourth abbot of Mount St. Joseph Abbey in Roscrea, Ireland. Two years later he died in an automobile accident.Copyright © 1977 Ave Maria Press
back to top