Pope Francis

Sunday, 2 August 2015

The practice of Humility - 52

Consider also the examples left by the saints of the Old and New Testaments. Isaiah, such a virtuous and zealous prophet, deemed himself impure before God, and confessed that all his good deeds were like dirty rags (cf. Is 64:5). Daniel, whom God called a holy man, capable of arresting the divine wrath through his prayers, spoke to God with the humility of a sinner covered with confusion and shame. St Dominic, a miracle of innocence and holiness, had reached such a degree of self-contempt that he thought he drew curses from heaven upon the cities which he had to pass through. Thus, before entering a city, he would kneel down, put his face toward the ground, and say with tears: “I implore you, O Lord, have compassion on me, do not look at my sins, and do not punish this city as your just vengeance for keeping me within its walls.” St Francis, who deserved to be an image of Jesus Crucified for the purity of his life, believed himself to be the worst sinner on earth; this thought was so firmly fixed in his spirit that no one could have removed it. He used to say that, had God granted all those graces to the lowest of men, that man would have made better use of them and would not have been so ungrateful. Several other saints believed themselves unworthy of the food they took, of the air they breathed, of the garments they wore. Others regarded it as a great miracle of the divine mercy to be tolerated on earth, instead of being thrown into hell.  Still others were surprised that men could bear them and that all creatures would not get together to exterminate and annihilate them.  All the saints abhorred distinction, praises and honors, and because of the great contempt that they had for themselves, they longed for nothing other than humiliations and dishonor. Are you perhaps holier than they?  Why don’t you consider yourself — after their example — unworthy and vile?  Why don’t you seek — as they did — the simple joy of holy humility?

J. Pecci (later Pope Leo XIII)

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