First Reading for Wednesday April 25th, 2018
1 Peter 5:5-7 And all of you, clothe yourselves with humility in your dealings with one another, for: “God opposes the proud but bestows favor on the humble.” So humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time. Cast all your worries upon him because he cares for you.
Pride vs. Humility in Modern Culture
It is interesting that, in modern US language and culture, “pride” has become a virtue rather than a sin and “humility” tends to be scorned. We are proud of our children, our students, our schools, our churches, our communities, our race, and our sexual orientation. We are even proud of things with which we had nothing to do. Some of us are proud of our president. I haven’t heard anyone express pride in Congress recently.
I believe the rise of “pride” movements and associated popularity of the word are quite reasonable reactions to the scorn and criticism heaped on various minorities by the establishment in past decades, those in power and in the majorities and even in the Church often more interested in condemning and claiming prideful superiority than in loving and expressing humility. We reap what we sow.
Searching the Catechism – Pride
A quick search of the Catholic Catechism at the Vatican Website shows “pride” occurs 11 times and “humility” 22 times in the Catechism. That two to one margin seems to support the importance of humility as part of our expression of Christian faith. (You can have some fun searching any word in the Catechism at this link🙂
Here is the most pertinent use of “pride” from Paragraph 1866 (4th item in the list below).
1866 – Vices can be classified according to the virtues they oppose, or also be linked to the capital sins which Christian experience has distinguished, following St. John Cassian and St. Gregory the Great. They are called “capital” because they engender other sins, other vices. They are pride, avarice, envy, wrath, lust, gluttony, and sloth or acedia. (Interesting article about acedia)
Searching the Catechism – Humility
And, this example of the use of “humility,’ No. 8 in the list below. By the way, the word “humble” shows up 39 times in the Catechism.
1450 “Penance requires . . . the sinner to endure all things willingly, be contrite of heart, confess with the lips, and practice complete humility and fruitful satisfaction.”
Humility is scorned in much of modern society as we are advised to “lean forward,” negotiate better compensation, invest aggressively to become wealthy, keep loaded guns to protect what is ours, look our for our own interests, etc. But that scorn is a result of a misunderstanding of humility. Dr. Neglia shared this insight: “Humility does not mean thinking less of oneself; Humility means thinking of oneself less.” So, we can be confident and effective and still be humble.
Jesus set the perfect example of humility (even though he did once storm into the temple turning over tables and raising a ruckus.) St. Paul summarized the ministry of Jesus in his letter to the Philippians.
Philippians 2:3-9 Do nothing out of selfishness or out of vainglory; rather, humbly regard others as more important than yourselves, each looking out not for his own interests, but (also) everyone for those of others. Have among yourselves the same attitude that is also yours in Christ Jesus, Who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God something to be grasped. Rather, he emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness; and found human in appearance, he humbled himself, becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross.
Virtue Chart (Humility and Thankfulness Missing)
I knew “pride” occupied a prominent place on this chart of virtues, gifts, fruits, and sins but was surprised that “humility” does not. It does seem that most of the Fruits of the Holy Spirit, Gentleness, Generosity, Faithfulness, Goodness, Kindness, Patience, Modesty, and Self Control are excellent descriptors of humble persons and perhaps even synonyms for humility. “Thanksgiving” doesn’t show up explicitly either, but we can be confident that, in place of expressing pride, we are always safe to express thanksgiving.
1 Thessalonians 5:18 In all circumstances give thanks, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus.
And we especially give thanks for the presence of JT and for his encouraging words supporting humility and thanksgiving.