from Ordinary Graces
complied by Lorraine Kisly
Humility is just as much the opposite of self-abasement as it is of self-exaltation. to be humble is not to make comparisons. Secure in its reality, the self is neither better nor worse, bigger nor smaller, than anything else in the universe. It is--is nothing, yet at the same time one with everything. It is in this sense that humility is absolute self-effacement.
To be nothing in the self-effacement of humility, yet, for the sake of the task, to embody its whole weight and importance in your bearing, as the one who has been called to undertake it. To give to people, works, poetry, art, what the self can contribute, and to take, simply and freely, what belongs to it by reason of its identity. Praise and blame, the winds of success and adversity, blow over such a life without leaving a trace or upsetting its balance.
Towards this, so help me, God--
While there is much food for thought here, I have a simple note on the beginning. Some time back there were comments about false-humility in Catholicism. There was some intimation that when one looked at a veritable monster, say Saddam Hussein, and said, I am the chiefest of sinners, there was something false in that humility. But it is possible for the humble person, and necessary, it would seem, to say, "I am the chiefest of sinners." For in humility we do not compare, and so we would know only our own state and in that knowledge each one of us is, in fact, the biggest sinner we know. Now, there is part of me that reels at the contradiction--surely I can look out into the world and see people who have done things far worse than I could ever contemplate--they are thickly encrusted in the deepest darkest muck of sin. I however, have never done such things, but I have done others. My muck may be of a different color, but for all I know may be twice as thick as the person I am looking at. We forget that ALL sin is equally abhorrent in the eyes of God. Anyway, I belabor the point. True humility does not admit of comparison--comparison is nearly always an act of pride (when it is to oneself that the comparison is made).