Monday, March 18, 2013

The World Does Not Understand Humility

Fr. Zuhlsdorf expresses beautifully and concisely what I have been struggling to put into words on the subject of humility, which the world does not understand:

Fr. Blake beautifully addresses false humility, and the special dangers it poses for clergy:

Aquinas also sheds some light on humility in the Summa Theologica.  A little taste:
Humility restrains the appetite from aiming at great things against right reason: while magnanimity urges the mind to great things in accord with right reason.
Humility ceases to be humility when it causes us to look with satisfaction upon ourselves, or to seek notice and praise from others.

Pope Francis, whom the liberals appear to misunderstand as grossly as they do Bl. John XXIII, has been jettisoning the trappings of the papacy during the first days of his reign.  The liberals are jumping up and down for joy over it, believing that it heralds a new Age of Aquarius without the medieval Benedictine trappings, and that finally, we have a Pope centered on humility.  I don't know Pope Francis' reasons for doing what he is doing; nor am I out to explore his motivations, or impute any particular motivations to him.  Rather, the point here is that neither the world, nor those who think with the mind of the world, get what humility is all about.

The world is constantly being taken in by hucksters because it equates humility with a no-frills lifestyle.  This, without more, can't be humility.  Gandhi, with his loincloth and his round spectacles, is held up in the world as a model of humility, yet it was said to have cost a fortune to keep him living in poverty.  False asceticism is an old trick to lend credibility to lies, worked to great effect by enemies of the Church from the Albigensians to the Communists.  Then there are the proud poor who lead a no-frills lifestyle only because they lack the resources for screaming opulence.  

On the other hand, there are those who live in opulence who (a) would give it up in a heartbeat, if they were not prevented by the duties of their position or state in life, and (b) are perfectly willing to be misjudged and take all kinds of grief for not giving it up.  Such is Pope Emeritus Benedict.  Consider the absolute nonsense he put up with during his eight years as Pope: the carping about "triumphalism" and "trying to turn the clock back"; the whining about the old vestments and regalia that he took out of mothballs; the incessant braying about his beautification of the liturgy; the idiotic stories about Prada attire.  Here was a man who had wanted nothing more than to retire to a quite life of study and prayer, but who suddenly found himself thrust onto the Throne of Peter.  Being a man of duty, he conformed himself to his new situation and uncomplainingly accepted all that went with it without taking any notice of the criticism.  He was willing to ignore what others thought of him, and to be misunderstood, in order to reconnect us with the sacred things of our past, and to lift our minds and our hearts out of mediocrity.  In the end, Benedict gave up all his purported luxury and wealth, of his own accord, and without looking back.

We should study and reflect true humility, and genuine exemplars of it, lest, like the world, we be taken in by hucksters.


  1. Well said. I have been thinking along these lines as well.

  2. My fear is that the modernists will equate humility with "anything goes." The last thing I want to see is a trip back to the 1970's. Please Lord, spare us that! The beauty and the majesty of our Church is one of the things I love about being Catholic. Most of the magnificent Churches and Cathedrals were built by the labor and the reverent love of the poor. Holy Father, please guide Pope Francis on the right path and defeat the “progressive” wolves that are still within.