He Humbles Himself…So Should I…

Christ washing his disciples feet icon (2)

There is something special about teaching kindergarten children.  There is a spark in them of wonder and excitement at the beauty of life!  They always have something to say…and what they have to say is very important!  I remember hearing a talk by a friend of mine Deacon Bob McDonald on one of those Lighthouse Catholic Media Cd’s and he once asked a class of young children a curious question just to see what they would say.  He asked: “How does Jesus get inside the bread?”  One little girl put up her hand and said, “He loves His way in.”

Indeed, Jesus loves His way in.  The Scriptures tell us that Jesus “He emptied Himself, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men…He humbled Himself, accepting even death, death on a Cross…” (Philippians 2:7-9)  Jesus’ obedience and humility brought our salvation.  Through His humility, we gain eternal life.  Adam disobeyed God, but Jesus in humility empties Himself…for you…and for me.  Jesus is so humble that He, the Son of God washed the feet of His disciples!  Imagine!  The Son of God going down on His knees and washing the stinky, dirty feet of His Apostles!  I love this image at the top of Jesus washing the feet…Peter looks as though He is saying, “Awkward!”  How does Jesus respond?  “You also ought to wash one another’s feet.” (John 13:14).  Jesus teaches us that humility means being a servant to all.

Jesus gives Himself entirely…and He still gives Himself entirely through the Holy Eucharist!  Jesus, the Son of God, King of the Universe, became one of us and now humbles Himself again so that we can actually receive His Body and Blood everyday in the Holy Eucharist!  In the Eucharist we receive grace, and a heart that is more ready to give love and receive love.  Through receiving the Holy Eucharist with the right dispositions, our hearts are transformed through the Holy Eucharist and we receive grace which is God’s very own life poured into us!  Why is this important?  Simply this…we are made for union with God…and as we grow in the life of grace, we grow closer in union with God.  Grace helps us to live in light, truth, beauty and goodness.  Grace helps us to have the strength to heal, to forgive others and ourselves, and to see the goodness in everyone…including ourselves.

Life is hard.  Humility is hard!  We want to grow in union with God.  We want to live in the light.  We want to be who God is calling us to be…but we struggle…oftentimes struggle can come because of our pride.

Often when we think of pride, we think of someone who is thinking “high and mighty of themselves.”  We might think of someone who only thinks of themselves.  St. John of the Cross points out that even people who have a desire for perfection can have a deep pride that needs to be rooted out.  He claims that sometimes we minimize our faults, and become discouraged because we are not perfect yet.  They become impatient and angry saying: “Oh no!  I am not a saint yet…poor me.”  Sometimes people who are on this path of holiness are very anxious because they want God to immediately remove certain imperfections they have because they just want to be at peace.

As mentioned in earlier posts, there is a time in the dark night of the senses where God can be purging the soul of certain vices in a passive way.  Remember that the passive night of the senses means that God needs to act directly in the soul in order to “burn away” the filthy vice.  Spiritual pride is when there is an excessive obsession with self in accomplishing spiritual tasks such as prayer, penances and good works.

What are some signs of spiritual pride?  St. John of the Cross makes the point that someone with spiritual pride prefers to instruct rather than be instructed.  He has a tendency to want to be heard, especially when it comes to speaking about certain spiritual graces that were received, and they are happy when others notice their spirituality.  They are upset and angry with people who do not approve of their spirit and tend to judge people in a harsh way.  They are easily discouraged when they fall, and approach Confession only to excuse themselves.

Now after hearing this…I know what it rolling in your head because it is also running in my head: “Oh No!  I am proud!”  Calm down.  Recognizing it is already a grace from God!  In order to combat spiritual pride, we need to know the characteristics of a humble person.

A humble person is someone who thinks about themselves less.  They would prefer to learn from others rather than be the teacher themselves.  They want to do their good works in hiding so that the praise will go to God and not themselves.  They are eager to manifest their faults…especially in Confession.  They think that others are better than they are, while not losing sight of the fact that they are a child of God who has value, dignity and worth.

So to be a humble person is hard.  Humility means becoming a person of service, but it also means being a person of silence, both on the interior and exterior.  I sincerely believe as we learn how to pray in sincerity and truth, we will think of ourselves less because our eyes are on Jesus.  We read a really good book for table reading during meal times called the Power of Silence by Cardinal Robert Sarah.  It is a fantastic read!  I really hope that I can have a few blog posts in the future to talk about silence and how essential and crucial that is in growth of the spiritual life…but I am going to use Cardinal Sarah’s Book on the Power of Silence.  Another really good book that we are reading now is called: The Day is Now Far Spent by Cardinal Robert Sarah.  That is another fantastic read…you will find it very fruitful!

On that note…I will be quiet now.

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