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Humility: Easier Said than Done

September 23, 2014 by  
Filed under Book Club, Sarah Reinhard

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The Way of Perfection (Week 4 of 10)

…for I never heard anything bad said of me 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; I much preferred people to blame me for what was not true than to tell the truth about me. For I disliked hearing things that were true said about me, whereas these other things, however serious they were, I did not mind at all. In small matters I followed my own inclinations, and I still do so, without paying any affection to what is most perfect. … I want each of you to ponder how much there is to be gained in every way by this virtue, and how, so far as I can see, there is nothing to be lost by it. The chief thing we gain is being able, in some degree, to follow the Lord.

The Way of Perfection, Chapter 15, Paragraph 4

How many times have you heard yourself criticized and, when you step back from it, realize how much they missed? Sometimes, I'll admit there's a seed of relief for me: “At least they don't know about xyz!” I'll think to myself. “Phew!”

There are so many facets to humility, and as I learn more about it, I realize just how far I have to go. What St. Teresa has explained here, though, is an aspect that had never hit my awareness before. Before I could despair about the hopelessness of my ever reaching that distant destination of humility, though, she continues, in Chapter 16, with this:

God deliver us, sisters, from saying “We are not angels”, or “We are not saints”, whenever we commit some imperfection. We may not be; but what a good thing it is for us to reflect that we can be if we will only try and if God gives us His hand! Do not be afraid that he will fail to do His part if we do not fail to do ours.

The Way of Perfection, Chapter 16, Paragraph 13

What this means is that I have no excuse, that the “Well, I'm imperfect” line of reasoning I've used is groundless. I'm not perfect, and I probably won't ever be. That doesn't mean, though, that I can't strive for perfection. That doesn't let me off the hook for the path God has for me.

And my insistence that “I'm just human” with its implication that I, therefore, can't ever achieve sainthood or perfection is a backhanded sort of insult to God, too, isn't it? It means I don't trust him to do his part.

And without him, I couldn't do anything perfectly or reach perfection anyway.

So however hard humility is, I'm going to work on trusting God for the help I'm going to need to get there.

Reading Assignment:

Chapters 18-20

Discussion Questions:

1. What's your biggest struggle with humility? While you reflect on how to take it to God, consider a regular practice of praying the Litany of Humility.

2. What insight from these chapters most resonated with you? How will you grow closer to God thanks to what St. Teresa wrote?

Feel free to comment on anything from our assignment this past week!

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About Sarah Reinhard

Sarah Reinhard continues to delight ”and be challenged by” her vocations of Catholic wife and mother. She's online at and is the author of a number of books for families.

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