Editor's note:

Humil­i­ty is a key virtue in our Chris­t­ian spir­i­tu­al for­ma­tion. The idea of being hum­ble is often mis­un­der­stood today. It is seen as weak­ness when actu­al­ly it is just the oppo­site. Chris­t­ian humil­i­ty is strength. The apos­tle Paul says, I can do all things through Christ who strength­ens me.” The key to humil­i­ty is know­ing that our strength comes from Christ. As John of the Cross says in this excerpt of his writ­ings, spir­i­tu­al pride is reme­died by humil­i­ty. I have to admit that at var­i­ous points in my life I have had some spir­i­tu­al pride. And I have also had the oppo­site, where I thought I am no good and unwor­thy. Humil­i­ty reme­dies both of these infir­mi­ties. Pride is erased because it is God who has gift­ed me and he receives all the glo­ry. Unwor­thi­ness is oblit­er­at­ed by bask­ing in God’s love, receiv­ing his strength and liv­ing bold­ly with­in the King­dom of God.

—Charles Ayars

Excerpt from Devotional Classics

Secret Pride

Begin­ners in the spir­i­tu­al life are apt to become very dili­gent in their exer­cis­es. The great dan­ger for them will be to become sat­is­fied with their reli­gious works and with them­selves. It is easy for them to devel­op a kind of secret pride, which is the first of the sev­en cap­i­tal sins. 

Such per­sons become too spir­i­tu­al. They like to speak of spir­i­tu­al things” all the time. They become con­tent with their growth. They would pre­fer to teach rather than to be taught. They con­demn oth­ers who are not as spir­i­tu­al as they are. They are like the Phar­isee who boast­ed in him­self and despised the pub­li­can who was not as spir­i­tu­al as he. 

The dev­il will often inflame their fer­vor so that their pride will grow even greater. The dev­il knows that all of their works and virtues will become val­ue­less and, if unchecked, will become vices. For they begin to do these spir­i­tu­al exer­cis­es to be esteemed by oth­ers. They want oth­ers to real­ize how spir­i­tu­al they are. They will also begin to fear con­fes­sion to anoth­er for it would ruin their image. So they soft­en their sins when they make con­fes­sion in order to make them appear less imperfect. 

They will beg God to take away their imper­fec­tions, but they do this only because they want to find inner peace and not for God’s sake. They do not real­ize that if God were to take away their imper­fec­tions from them, they would prob­a­bly become proud­er and more pre­sump­tu­ous still. 

But those who are at this time mov­ing in God’s way will counter this pride with humil­i­ty. They will learn to think very lit­tle of them­selves and their reli­gious works. Instead, they will focus on how great and how deserv­ing God is and how lit­tle it is that they can do for him. The Spir­it of God dwells in such per­sons, urg­ing them to keep their trea­sures secret­ly with­in themselves.

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