E-mail from Heaven: Is your computer on?
Fr. John Hardon is one of the humblest people we’ve ever known. A man of brilliant intellect he had reason to be tempted to pride, but never used his knowledge to browbeat, unlike many liberal clerics who, when challenged for their heterodoxy, respond, "And where did you get your theology degree?" Many times Fr. Hardon reminded us, "Only humble souls will get into heaven. Well, we sure want to do that! So we dedicate this issue to the virtue of humility in memory of Fr. Hardon. May each of us become small enough, as Mother Teresa said, to fit into the heart of Jesus. Excerpts below are taken from Spiritual Diary: Selected Sayings and Examples of Saints, St. Paul Editions, 1979 except for the last quotation from Fr. Hardon.
St. Augustine: Humility is the foundation of all the other virtues; hence, in the soul in which this virtue does not exist there cannot be any other virtue except in mere appearance. Similarly, it is the best disposition to receive celestial gifts. Finally, it is so necessary for perfection that, among all the ways to reach it, the first is humility, the second is humility, and the third is humility. And if I were asked about it one hundred times, I would still give the same answer.
St. Vincent de Paul: The most powerful weapon with which to overcome the devil is humility; because, not knowing how to use it, he does not even know how to defend himself from it.
St Thomas Aquinas: When you see someone who desires honor and esteem, who flees contempt and, when contradicted, is resentful and becomes downcast, rest assured that even though this person might perform miracles, he is still very far from perfection because all his virtue is without a foundation. [One day, while reading in the refectory, the saint was corrected for the pronunciation of a word. Even though he knew that he had pronounced it correctly, he immediately repeated it. When asked why he had done so, he answered: "Because it matters little if a syllable is pronounced long or short, but it matters greatly whether one is humble and obedient."]
St. Teresa of Avila: He who is not very humble can never make progress in contemplation; for this reason any small action performed with pride, even though it may seem nothing, is of great harm…. A day of humble recognition of self, although there may have been many afflictions and pains, is a greater grace of God than many days of prayer.
St. Bonaventure: Look upon yourself as insignificant; gladly consent to be considered as such by the others; do not become puffed up because of God’s gifts to you and you will be truly humble.
St. Francis de Sales: I am despised and derided and I am troubled; such is the way peacocks and monkeys act. I am mocked and ridiculed and I rejoice; thus did the Apostles react. This is the deepest degree of humility: to rejoice when one is humiliated and jeered at, just as the vain person takes pride in great honors; and to feel hurt when honored and esteemed, as the proud person suffers when taunted and ridiculed…. To be genuine, humility must be accompanied by charity, that is, we must love, seek and accept humiliations so as to please God and resemble Jesus. Otherwise, we would be practicing humility as pagans.
St. Jane de Chantal: He who is truly humble, when humiliated humiliates himself all the more; when rejected, enjoys the scorn; when given a lowly task, considers himself honored more than he deserves and performs it willingly. The only thing he abhors and flees are dignities and high offices.
Fr. John Hardon: How important it is for people to expect humiliations. If you really want to follow Jesus Christ want humiliations and through humility lead others to Christ. We all need humiliations because we all need humility. Humility will give us access to every other virtue. We are only moving toward heaven as we are living humble lives. Remove the vice of Pride…. First go to Our Lady. Ask for the grace to receive under [Christ’s] standard deep, deep humility. The more gifted [we are], the more humble we must become. The only road to humility is humiliations. We need both humility and gratitude to God for the wonderful things He has given us and done for us…. Christ prepares us by sending humiliations, deep humiliations: insults, contempt. Christ will train us to look for, allow, love humiliations…. How the Lord wants us, who are meant to be His followers to desire insults and contempt. If you want to really follow Jesus Christ I swear you must want, must desire to be humiliated. Only then can you lead others to Christ by humility. There is no other way [From "The Two Standards: Christ and Anti-Christ," a conference given on retreat October, 1999.]