As I meditate on the Joyful Mysteries of the rosary, I’m often struck by how each mystery has a strong current of humility. Everyone represented in the mysteries is humble. Mary, of course, is the humblest of souls. In her Magnificat she proclaims her low estate, her low degree, and her neediness. Elizabeth proclaims, “who am I that the mother of the Lord would visit me?”. Joseph accepts Mary even though he may have known he’d forever be in her shadow. Aged Simeon and Anna desire to see Israel’s Messiah even though they’re near death and probably won’t experience their nation’s improved status. The shepherds were among the lowest ranking in society, yet the heavenly host appeared to them, not to the religious or well-taught
One would be hard-pressed to find a saint who wasn’t humble. Pride and sainthood are mutually exclusive. They don’t reside together.
Mother Teresa said, “Humility is the mother of all virtue . . . It’s in being humble that our love becomes real, devoted and ardent. If you are humble, nothing will touch you, neither praise nor disgrace, because you know who you are. If you are blamed, you will not be discouraged. If they call you a saint, you will not put yourself on a pedestal.” She even had a “humility list” for her order, the Sisters of Charity:
- Speak as little as possible about yourself.
- Keep busy with your own affairs and not those of others.
- Avoid curiosity.
- Do not interfere in the affairs of others.
- Accept small irritations with good humor.
- Do not dwell on the faults of others.
- Accept censures even if unmerited.
- Give in to the will of others.
- Accept insults and injuries.
- Accept contempt, being forgotten and disregarded.
- Be courteous and delicate even when provoked by someone.
- Do not seek to be admired and loved.
- Do not protect yourself behind your own dignity.
- Give in, in discussions, even when you are right.
- Choose always the more difficult task.
That list drives home just how badly I need to grow in humility.
Consider Jesus: He chose to be born poor. He could have chosen to make Mary and Joseph wealthy prior to the annunciation, but he didn’t. He chose a humble earthly life. Jesus, “being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage.” Jesus “emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.”
How do we humble ourselves?
Both Old and New Testaments are replete with encouragement to choose humility. Humble yourself in the sight of the Lord. …. “He who is greatest among you shall be your servant; whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted" “Humbles himself,”- it begs the question, how does one humble himself.
Sainthood can only grow in a humble person. Holiness and pride are diametrically opposed. To be holy as Jesus wants us to be, we need to choose acts of humility and graciously accept humiliations. Like a muscle, the more we practice humility by choosing acts of humility and accepting humiliations, the stronger our humility will become. But the paradox of humility is we will never know when we have it.
When I was a kid, my grandmother gave me a card that said, “Humility is the strange possession that you lose the moment you find out you’ve got it.” Like Jesus – who emptied himself – we can practice emptying ourselves. We can empty ourselves by embracing any item on Mother Teresa’s humility list. Practically, that could be saying, “Today I will speak as little about myself as possible.” Or, “Today when a slight is directed toward me, I won’t respond.” Or, “I’m not going to argue, even if I know I’m right.”
Ironically, sometimes it’s pride that drives the desire to get rid of pride. Really, when you think about it, aren’t the proudest people the hardest to be around? Isn’t it pride that says, “Who wants to be like him?” Pride is a tricky thing and it inserts itself into everything. We always need to be on our guard against it. While on this earth, we will have to battle pride. But to become who we were created to become, we must not abandon the fight.
**My dear son-in-law, Darian, was the first person I sponsored into the Catholic Church. He was the first in my family to see the Truth I saw. I wanted to help him along the way and started a book called, "Dear Darian." In it I wrote about things I was learning, especially things I was learning through praying the rosary, hoping it would help him on his journey too. Well, Darian's spiritual life was on steroids and my little essays didn't seem needed as he was reading much greater minds than mine. So, my "Dear Darian," has instead become blog posts.
 Philippians 2:6
 Matthew 23: 11-12