Humility as Truth

Though the liturgy of the Lord's day preempts the feast of saints, today the Church also celebrates the feast of Saint Benedict.I have several times referred to the wonderful book of the Australian Cistercian monk Michael Casey: Fully Human, Fully Divine. Casey has another work that I've been reading to commemorate today's feast: Living in the Truth: Saint Benedict's Teaching on Humility.Here are some passages from the chapter "Humility as Truth:"

The process of divinization (as the ancient Church Fathers termed it) is beyond our control. The only means we have of furthering it is to cede control. This will happen only when we affirm with equal conviction that our spiritual giftedness is constantly under threat from an alternative government "that dwells in my members" (Rom 7:23). We cannot pass immediately to God because we are fragmented. At all stages we need God's help. Humility is what inclines us to accept it.One of the concomitants of humility is a sense of solidarity with other human beings, compassion, communion ... Pride is the opposite of approachability; it denies every bond that links us with others. Not surprisingly, its power to disrupt community is considerable.Humility does not mean denying gifts, it means making use of them in a spirit of thankfulness and celebration and avowing that what we have is something that has been freely given to us.Humility is a kind of nakedness that allows us to be seen without the bulwarks of social conventions. We present ourselves to others transparently, in all our imperfection and vulnerability. We depend on their good will for acceptance and love, not on the success of our efforts at self-promotion.

Robert P. Imbelli, a long-time Commonweal contributor, is a priest of the Archdiocese of New York. A book of essays in his honor, The Center Is Jesus Christ Himself, edited by Andrew Meszaros, was published this year by The Catholic University of America Press.

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