Humility, Obedience, Patience: September 2002 Archives

St. Francis Borgia


St. Francis Borgia

Here's a mind-boggling concept from the Life of St. Francis Borgia.

From the time that he began to give himself totally to the divine service Francis Borgia, who was canonized in 1671, learned the importance and difficulty of attaining to humility, and he tried unremittingly to humble himself in the divine presence and within himself. Amidst the honours and respect that were shown him at Valladolid, his companion, Father Bustamante, noticed that he was not only quiet but more than ordinarily self-effacing, for which he asked the reason. "I considered", said St Francis, "in my morning meditation that Hell is my due. I think that all men and even dumb creatures ought to cry out after me, 'Hell is your place'." He one day told the novices that in meditating on the actions of Christ he had for six years always placed himself in spirit at the feet of Judas; but then he realized that Christ had washed the feet even of that traitor, so that he thenceforth felt unworthy to approach even him.
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Sacrificing the Need To Be Right


As Christians, one of the most difficult things we have to do is to put ourselves aside and serve others. We have to abandon our own definitions of ourselves in order to be what God has made us to be. We are no longer allowed to cling to outmoded ways of being right. We can't lean on the vaguely puritan and Calvinist sense that if we are doing well in the world we are somehow specially liked by God. Truly, God has blessed us and has loved us, but we are not in any way any more special than the leper in the streets of Calcutta or the starving child in Zimbabwe.

As Christians, we need to give up being right. We need to sacrifice the constant affirmation we rely upon in the world. Blogs are simply one example of this. A blog serves as our voice to a world of people we do not know, and we all write to be heard. We not only wish to be heard, but we want desperately to be affirmed. We want people to notice us and to say, "Yes, you're right." Or we want a chance to explain our views and to say why someone else is wrong. But blogs are a single manifestation of this need, and not by any means the most pronounced. In the business world, we need to be right--our view needs to trump the views of those around us. Isn't it sufficient to be useful? Why, then do we need to be right?

Being right means being loved. We want everyone to love us. The reality is that outside of Christ our ability to love the other is very, very limited. We know this internally, and so to win the love of someone else, the acclaim, or the approbation, seems a grand and glorious prize. We have made something of ourselves. But, in fact, what have we accomplished? Little or nothing. No starving child was fed because I wrote in this blog. Likely few people were moved to go and serve in soup kitchens. Christ is not better glorified because I said He ought to be. In short, our need to be right serves no one but ourselves.

But writing here can be training in one part of humility. We can sacrifice the need to be right, and do what we do solely for the glory of God. Rather than seeking to be clever, to be read, or to be popular, we can seek to be of service. We can encourage one another to pray, and we can be the irenic souls who pour oil on boiling waters. We can be the voices that calm the tempests, and the voices of reason that call everyone to focus on the central issue--Jesus Christ and Him Crucified.

If we do anything outside of Jesus Christ, it is done in vain. Prayer that is not prayed for the glory of God is mere words. Yes, we may petition, and yes, God will answer, but the best petition is made in humble acknowledgement that we do not know the proper way, nor may we see the fullness of His Will. In prayer, we give up the need to be right. We become again like children on our Father's knee, and we ask Him to open up the world again.

If you have a young child look at her or him. Look through their eyes and see the wonders of the world. That is what we must be as Christians--children who do not need to be right, but who seek to absorb the wonder of the wide world around them. It is terrifying, and it is thrilling. And we have as our guide and protector the greatest of Fathers and the best Big Brother ever.

So--let us give up the need to be right, sacrifice the need to be perfect, slay the need to be the center of attention, sacrifice the need to be loved. In so doing we will be able to accept the fact that we are loved beyond our wildest imaginings. We can drop the masks, the pretences, and the falsenesses. We can abandon our prejudices and our notions of how the world should work as we sit on our Father's knees and we are once again shown the world and the people that He loves. He will open our eyes to the vast splendor of all that He has created, and we will be able to fall in love again, perhaps truly for the first time with the Father who loves us and wishes us above all the everlasting bliss of knowing Him and knowing the world as He knows it. We can become servants of the most high, who serve with humble and great delight. We can join the chorus of praises and thank God every day for the opportunities He has showered upon us. Praise God in His Heavenly Abode! Praise Him in all His Creation! Praise the Lord Jesus Christ through whom we live and move and have our being! Praise all the goodness that permeates creation, for as Jesus said, "Only the Father is good," so whatsoever we perceive to partake of the good partakes of the Father in that degree. Praise God and thank Him today and always.

Praise God, the source of our life, our refuge, our shelter, our Loving Father, our compassionate brother. Praise God!

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This page is a archive of entries in the Humility, Obedience, Patience category from September 2002.

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