After I posted the most recent excerpt from Divine Intimacy, I decided it would be the last time. I was thinking that maybe you were taking them the wrong way, assuming I was being preachy. And then, a few of you commented that you really enjoy them -- you must have been feeling my apprehension. I decided to continue posting them as long as you understand I am not at all moralizing. If I post an excerpt here, it is because it touched me, and it is my wish that someone else will be moved as well.
Many souls like to be humbled, but few desire humiliation; many ask God to make them humble and fervently pray for this, but very few want to be humiliated. Yet, it is impossible to gain humility without humiliations; for just as studying is the way to acquire knowledge, so it is by humiliation that we attain to humility.
As long as we only desire this virtue of humility, but are not willing to accept the means thereto, not even are we on the true road to acquiring it. Even if in certain situations we succeed in acting humbly, this may well be the result of a superficial and apparent humility rather than of a humility that is real and profound.
St. Bernard teaches that being humble and being humbled are two different things. We can say that everyone, in one way or another, receives humiliations in this life. Not many, however, become humble because very few accept humiliation and submit to it patiently.
What profit do we draw from humiliations, if instead of accepting them, we oppose and resist them with resentment and vexation ad become angry with the person who gives them to us?
It is true that these occasions are not agreeable to proud, sensitive nature; nevertheless, although we feel their bitterness, we much force ourselves to accept them graciously, making the words of the Psalmist our own: "It is good for me that Thou hast humble me." If, in spite of all the repugnance and resistance of nature, we accept humiliation by an act of will, and assure God that we want to be content with it and to savor it thoroughly, we will gradually become humble. The hard, bitter bread of abasement will become, little by little, sweet and pleasant, but we will not find it agreeable until we have been nourished by it for a long time. Moreover, the most important thing is not the sweetness, but the willingness to accept everything that is humiliating. "Allow thyself to be taught, allow thyself to be commanded, allow thyself to be enslaved and brought into submission and despised, and thou shalt be perfect!" (St. John of the Cross)
How true it is, O God, that the only thing that I, a sinner, receive by right is humiliation, insults, scorn. And yet, how troubled and excessively sensitive I am when anything hurts my pride; You know, O my God, how much I wish to get rid of this propensity. I can truthfully say that with the help of Your grace I detest it, and that nothing is more hateful to me. Nevertheless, I have not the strength to accept the remedy You offer me. How shall I have the courage, Lord, to ask You for humiliations, when I have rejected them so often, changing them from medicine into occasions for new acts of pride?
Instead of seeing in humiliations the remedy You provide to cure my pride, how many times have I looked only at the creatures You used to humble me, and irritated by them, I have been indignant and rebellious, as if treated unjustly. How blind I am, O Lord, how far have I wandered from Your ways! Come to bring the light again into my soul, come to place me in the truth, come to set my feet anew on the good, safe way of humiliation.
I do not ask You for particular humiliations, but I do ask You to dispose my heart to accept those which, in Your infinite love and mercy, You have prepared for me from all eternity.