Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Humility and Compassion

Humiliation is the only way to humility, just as patience is the only way to peace, and reading to knowledge. If you want the virtue of humility you must not shun humiliations...

We were struck again by these words of Saint Bernard. The word "humility" is derived from the Latin humilis meaning lowly, literally "on the ground," from the word humus meaning earth. Here we learn that becoming humble is not some personal project of self-mastery; it is rather owning my own weakness, sinfulness and my lowliness; and learning to look up at Jesus from down there in that low place and ask him for his mercy.

In the monastery we often refer to this as bitter self-knowledge. We realize that the monastic life is not about our achievement but about our readiness to make our weakness available to the mercy of God. Perhaps this is our most important work- to realize that we are in desperate need of this mercy. 

It’s never been about worth, but always about love; the condescension of God's tender mercy, and his mercy reflected in the compassion of brother for brother.