Editor's note:

I am obsessed with the details of Jesus’s humil­i­ty — the who, what, where, when, why, and how of it. Jesus wasn’t born in a palace, but a cave. And the first peo­ple to find out about Jesus the Messiah’s birth were shep­herds — those on the low­est rung of soci­ety. Angels hov­er­ing in the heav­ens amid God’s glo­ri­ous light announced Jesus’s birth to them. Why them? More­over, Jesus grew up in the back­wa­ter town of Nazareth instead of Rome, Alexan­dria, or Anti­och — the biggest cities of his time. I am con­tin­u­al­ly struck by how Jesus often pre­ferred to serve and inter­act with those that oth­ers ren­dered invis­i­ble. My deep desire is to be like him. Today, Flem­ish mys­tic John Russ­broec, teach­es us a lit­tle more about humil­i­ty, the foun­da­tion­al virtue.

—Marlena Graves

Excerpt from The Adornment of the Spiritual Marriage

Now con­sid­er this: as we have laid down humil­i­ty as a foun­da­tion, so there­fore we shall speak of humil­i­ty first.

Humil­i­ty, that is low­li­ness or self-abase­ment, is an inward bow­ing down or pros­trat­ing of the heart and of the con­science before God’s tran­scen­dent worth. Right­eous­ness demands and orders this, and through char­i­ty a lov­ing heart can­not leave it undone. When a low­ly and lov­ing man con­sid­ers that God has served him so humbly, so lov­ing­ly, and so faith­ful­ly; and sees God so high, and so mighty, and so noble, and man so poor, and so lit­tle, and so low: then there springs up with­in the hum­ble heart a great awe and a great ven­er­a­tion for God. For to pay homage to God by every out­ward and inward act, this is the first and dear­est work of humil­i­ty, the most savory among those of char­i­ty, and most meet among those of right­eous­ness. The lov­ing and hum­ble heart can­not pay homage enough, either to God or to His noble man­hood, nor can it abase itself as much as it would. And that is why a hum­ble man thinks that his wor­ship of God and his low­ly ser­vice are always falling short. And he is meek, rev­er­enc­ing Holy Church and the sacra­ments. And he is dis­creet in food and drink, in speech, in the answers which he makes to every­body; and in his behav­ior, dress, and low­ly ser­vice he is with­out hypocrisy and with­out pre­tense. And he is hum­ble in his devo­tions, both out­ward­ly and inward­ly, before God and before all men, so that none are offend­ed because of him. And so he over­comes and casts out Pride, which is the source and ori­gin of all oth­er sins. By humil­i­ty the snares of the dev­il, and of sin, and of the world, are bro­ken, and man is set in order, and estab­lished in the very con­di­tion of virtue. And heav­en is opened to him, and God stoops to hear his prayers, and he is ful­filled with grace. And Christ, that strong rock, is his foun­da­tion. Whoso­ev­er there­fore grounds his virtues in humil­i­ty, he shall nev­er err.

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