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Humiliations

Humiliations

 

Presence of God – O Jesus, humbled to abjection for me, teach me to humble myself for love of You.

MEDITATION

Many souls would like to be humble, but few desire humiliation; many ask God to make them humble and fervently pray for this, but very few want to be humiliated. Yet it is impossible to gain humility without humiliations; for just as studying is the way to acquire knowledge, so it is by the way of humiliation that we attain to humility.

As long as we only desire this virtue of humility, but are not willing to accept the means thereto, not even are we on the true road to acquiring it. Even if in certain situations we succeed in acting humbly, this may well be the result of a superficial and apparent humility rather than of a humility that is real and profound. Humility is truth; therefore, let us tell ourselves that since we possess nothing of ourselves but sin, it is but just that we receive only humiliation and scorn. If we were really convinced of this truth, we would find it very just that all should humiliate us, treat us without consideration, and despise us. In fact, what honor and consideration does one deserve who has offended his Creator, when a single sin–even a venial one–is more deplorable and worthy of more contempt than the most miserable earthly condition, the poorest and lowest estate? The saints were so firmly convinced of this truth that they never found the humiliations which came to them too painful; they considered them, on the contrary, always less than they deserved. “I never heard anything bad said of me,” said St. Teresa of Jesus, “which I did not clearly realize fell short of the truth. If I had not sometimes–often, indeed–offended God in the ways they referred to, I had done so in many others, and I felt they had treated me far too indulgently in saying nothing about these” (Way of Perfection, 15).

Bear your humiliations patiently, for man is tried in this crucible as gold in the fire (cf. Sirach 2:4,5). If we feel the weight of our pride and wish to be rid of it, we must accept humiliations calmly–through them the Lord will crush our pride.

COLLOQUY

“O Lord, how can a person like me, who deserves to be tortured by demons for eternity, be insulted? If I am badly treated in this world, is it not just? Really, Lord, I have nothing to offer You in this regard…. I know that I am so guilty in Your eyes that I feel that those who insult me are treating me too well, although they think they are offending me, not knowing me as well as You do” (Teresa of Jesus, Way of Perfection, 36).

How true it is, O God, that the only thing that I, a sinner, receive by right is humiliation, insults, scorn. And yet, how troubled and excessively sensitive I am when anything hurts my pride; You know, O my God, how much I wish to get rid of this propensity. I can truthfully say that with the help of Your grace I detest it, and that nothing is more hateful to me. Nevertheless, I have not the strength to accept the remedy You offer me. How shall I have the courage, Lord, to ask You for humiliations, when I have rejected them so often, changing them from medicine into occasions for new acts of pride?

Instead of seeing in humiliations the remedy You provide to cure my pride, how many times have I looked only at the creatures You used to humble me, and irritated by them, I have been indignant and rebellious, as if treated unjustly. How blind I am, O Lord, how far have I wandered from Your ways! Come to bring the light again into my soul, come to place me in the truth, come to set my feet anew on the good, safe way of humiliation.

I do not ask You for particular humiliations, but I do ask You to dispose my heart to accept those which, in Your infinite love and mercy, You have prepared for me from all eternity. In them, I see Your remedy, adapted to my pride; if up to the present I have often refused to taste it, help me now not to lose the smallest drop of it. I am ill, O Lord, and like the patient who wants the medicine which will cure him and who swallows it, bitter though it be, I too, with the help of Your grace, wish to accept and to drink to the very dregs every humiliation. But help me, O sweet Jesus, You who willed to know every form of abasement, for without You I shall only fail in my good resolutions.

 

Note from Dan: These posts are provided courtesy of Baronius Press and contain one of two meditations for the day. If you would like to get the full meditation from one of the best daily meditation works ever compiled, you can learn more here: Divine Intimacy. Please honor those who support us by purchasing and promoting their products.

Art: Teresa of Avila, Peter Paul Rubens, 1615, own work David Monniaux, CC, Wikimedia Commons. Father Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen, mirror from open source material.

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About Dan Burke

Dan is the President of the Avila Foundation, the parent organization of SpiritualDirection.com, the Avila Institute for Spiritual Formation, Divine Intimacy Radio and Divine Intimacy Radio - Resources Edition, Into the Deep Parish Programs, the Apostoli Viae (Apostles of the Way) Community, and the FireLight Student Leadership Formation Program, author of the award-winning book, Navigating the Interior Life - Spiritual Direction and the Journey to God, Finding God Through Meditation-St. Peter of Alcantara, 30 Days with Teresa of Avila, Into the Deep, Living the Mystery of Merciful Love: 30 Days with Thérèse of Lisieux, and his newest book The Contemplative Rosary with St. John Paul II and St. Teresa of Avila. Beyond his "contagious" love for Jesus and His Church, he is a grateful husband and father of four, the Executive Director of and writer for EWTN's National Catholic Register, a regular co-host on Register Radio, a writer and speaker who provides online spiritual formation and travels to share his conversion story and the great riches that the Church provides us through authentic Catholic spirituality. Dan has been featured on EWTN's Journey Home program and numerous radio programs.

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  • DanGoddu

    These posts this Lent are purely and absolutely tremendous stuff for my soul!

  • Camila

    Powerful post.

  • Estefania

    This is the answer to my prayer. I like the example of the medicine which is bitter but which will cure you. Lord, give me strength to accept humiliations with as much happiness as I do any type of consolation.

  • Sandra Traw

    This is an answer for the cry of my heart….Why? For the first time EVER this morning, I can look upon ALL the humiliations I have had in my life. While that does not change the pain I have caused God and others through so many things that I have brought to others not only by what I have done but by my reactions to what I have done…..for the FIRST time I can see all these things as God working in my life and will know begin to work on accepting them from the Father’s hand! There are no words to express just what this article has given me this morning!!!

  • Jeanette

    A HERMIT had a gift from God to cast out evil spirits. One time he asked to learn what they feared most and what compelled them to flee.
    “Perhaps it is fasting?” he asked one of them. “We,” the evil spirit replied, “neither ever eat nor ever drink.”
    “Sleepless vigils, then?” “We do not sleep at all.”
    “Flight from the world?” “Supposedly an important thing. But we spend the greater part of our time wandering around the deserts.”
    “I implore you to confess what it is that can subdue you,” insisted the elder. The evil spirit, compelled by a supernatural force, was pressed to answer: “Humility–which we can never overcome.”
    – The Ancient Fathers of the Desert: Section 1
    V. Rev. Chrysostomos, trans.

    • Camila

      What a great combox post Jeanette!!!!

  • MarcAlcan

    To be humiliated is nothing more than to be forced to face the truth that we are avoiding. The soul that is focused on Christ will not be troubled by such an event for she will see that this is the refiners fire, burning away that which is false.

    If Christ is all, then Christ is all. And humiliated or not, Christ is all – and therefore there is peace.

    • marybernadette

      True, however, when reading about the lives of Sts Therese and Faustina, they also accepted being ‘falsely’ accused by their Superiors or other Sisters. Of course, they recognized this was expected of them by the Lord, for their Sanctification. I believe this would not be the case for everyone. For example, handling certain ‘workplace’ situations’ even so, hopefully this would be handled with a spirit of ‘humility.’

      • MarcAlcan

        There is a line that goes: if what they say is true, why be upset. If what they say is false why be upset since you know what is true anyway. Of course this easier said than done. But the saints have shown that it can be done. And we are all called to be saints. God gives the grace to the soul who asks for it.

      • MarcAlcan

        Second reply as I can’t edit the earlier one.
        With regards the workplace situation, it can be necessary to clear your name if you are unjustly maligned as it can impact others. It perpetuates the culture of lie if we don’t correct it.

        • marybernadette

          I agree with you re: workplace situations that’s what I meant, it would be important to defend yourself and as you say, others.

    • marybernadette

      The book ‘Inmitation of Christ’ is wonderful as it teaches us how to ‘bear wrongs patiently. ‘ Therefore depending on the situation , whether in defending ourselves or not, we can still respond in a ‘spirit if charity.’

  • bill b

    I like what Dan Burke wrote but Teresa of Jesus was incorrect to say she deserved to be tortured by demons for eternity because then she is unwittingly debasing her union with God through the Eucharist. Paul says, “Not I live but Christ lives in me”. If that’s true, Teresa is incorrect. John in his epistle says, ” He who loves is of God”. If that’s true, Teresa is incorrect.

    • Nothing could be further from the truth. You should be moe cautious when dealing with one who is a Doctor of the Church. She is speaking of justice with respect to past sins not her state as she writes.
      Sent from my iPad

    • Camila

      cordy fan, you are incorrect.

      Teresa would not commit the sin of presumption, her humility was simply too great. It is hard for the modern mind to fathom this degree of humility. We somehow imagine we are ‘entitled’ to heaven, that we have some sort to ‘right’. We have no such right – ever. And to assume that we do is presumptuous. A serious sin and one very dangerous for many to fall into – it can be mistaken by a kind of hope. We don’t ‘deserve’ heaven just because we consumed the Eucharist. You will see that the higher the saints grow in sanctity (thus, in union with God) the lower they go in humility, willingly and joyfully. Things that are an exaggeration for us, are not so for these saintly souls. Any comment on our part casting doubt on the level of their humility reveal more about us than they do about them.

      Have you ever read the definition of hope?

    • $1650412

      I think you want to add to the conversation here on the point that from our appropriately debased estate, we are most fortunate in the love and mercy we continually receive through the shocking condescension of Our Lord. We are so not bringing anything to the relationship, but He loves us so much- this is the truth that cuts completely to the chase, in every human drama. And the resounding reality, thay deep calls to deep, is all glory be to the Lord God Almighty, worthy is the Lamb that was slain!

  • Jeanette

    St. Faustina’s Diary 270

    Without humility, we cannot be pleasing to God. Practise the third degree of humility; that is, not only must one refrain from explaining and defending oneself when reproached with something, but one should rejoice at the humiliation.

  • Marie

    Please dissect for me the difference between the purging and purifying experience of embracing humiliation, and the defiling nature of lacking courage to confront a person who perpetrates an humiliating act upon oneself.

    • LizEst

      This sounds like a test question! Would you be a little bit more specific please? Thanks … and God bless you.

      • Marie

        Hah! I’m just trying to be concise. Maybe too concise….
        Ok. I understand the spiritual value in embracing humiliation to the extent that it is an interior experience of something. Say, for example, that in a group, one’s idea or suggestion is passed over repeatedly. Or perhaps struggling with a health issue that renders one less capable than previously, etc. But, what if there is a humiliation that comes from another person’s actions or words, say a boss or a relative. It seems to me there comes a moment when accepting humiliation in this way could be a failure in courage to confront another, really a failure to love another, but cloaked instead as “embracing humiliation” the way St. Teresa speaks of as a virtuous action. Or, could it really be a failure in humility to not rather be wronged by another person, and to assume that there is actually pride there (in the person experiencing humiliation) that needs to be purged? In trying to direct someone in this kind of situation, do you see how this could become a tangle?

        • LizEst

          You speak of “direct[ing] someone in this kind of situation”. Are you a spiritual director or a parent or somehow in charge of someone? Because, when we are in authority, there is a responsibility to correct or teach someone, with kindness and mercy, sometimes with firmness, when the situation or behavior calls for it. Otherwise, we have to be very careful about judging someone and taking on the mantle of “behavior corrector” because one feels a need to do so. Is the behavior happening with others? Is it detrimental to the workplace or family life? It might be time to state one’s case. Is it a health issue? Then, one should speak up and explain the situation because, otherwise, how is the other person to know? Is the behavior abusive? We are not called to tolerate abuse. Tolerating, and thereby silently encouraging, the behavior is not the order of the day.

          In terms of humiliation, the person should ask themselves if God is trying to teach them something through this. It might be helpful to put distance between the situation. If that’s not possible, the person should not let the devil take them by surprise. The person should pray for God to give them the strength to endure it, or for God to remove the situation, offering up all one’s sufferings. The person should also pray for the person inflicting the humiliation, love them with a Godly love and put everything in God’s hands. The person should also discuss all of this with their spiritual director. If they don’t have a director, they need to find one now.

          • Marie

            Thank you. Yes, I think essentially you are seeing the same potential for tangles as I am seeing, and that helps me.

          • marybernadette

            ‘I have to say, that in a few posts I have been reading lately, answers are coming to me that I really needed. The difference between accepting ‘humiliations’ to grow in ‘Humility’ and not accepting ‘abuse.’ ‘Enabling’ is a word that comes to mind. I do believe, however, that the difference has to be ‘discerned’ at times, because it is not always ‘clear’ and I am assuming that’s why a ‘director’ is recommended here. However, I know you realize, Liz, that ‘directors’ are hard to find.

  • marybernadette

    ‘It is interesting, that when saying the Holy Rosary and meditating on it’s mysteries, there are challenging ones e.g. the second Sorrowful Mystery and asking for the ‘Spirit of Mortification.’ Then, while saying the ‘prayer after the ‘Hail Holy Queen’ Oh God, by ‘ His Life Death and Resurrection’……………………….’we may imitate what they contain and obtain what they promise’ to realize what we are asking. I have asked for ‘humility’ from the Lord and believe He answers by providing opportunities to ‘practice this all-important Virtue.’

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