Humility gives us the sacred gift of being able to learn from everyone. It gives us the ability to take advice from any person who gives it, not just the brilliant or the holy or the great, but from the simple and the ignorant and from those who may be far below our own position or station in life. It gives us the power to imitate Christ himself, who learned from Peter how to catch […]

Prayer for Humility

Let me have too deep a sense of humor ever to be proud. Let me know my absurdity before I act absurdly. Let me realize that when I am humble I am most human, most truthful, and most worthy of your serious consideration. —Daniel A. Lord, SJ, in Hearts on Fire: Praying with Jesuits Photo by Frank Busch on Unsplash.

Three Kinds of Humility

St. Ignatius, like many spiritual masters over the centuries, suggested that humility was a prerequisite for the spiritual life. In his Spiritual Exercises, he described three kinds of humility: To humble myself to total obedience to God. To be ready for honor or dishonor, poverty or wealth, or anything else for God. To desire poverty, dishonor, and even be a fool for God, since Christ was. The last of these, he said, was the most […]

On Gratitude

Driving home recently, I couldn’t help but notice that God seemed intent on slowing me down—behind a bus first, then a delivery truck; then a traffic light turned red just as I approached. Far from a waste of time, delays like this signal that God is trying to get my attention. I smile interiorly, grateful for the chance to ponder God’s presence in the brief moments of stillness the detainment affords. Every tree and flower, […]

I Am Not Worthy

I slipped into the church, unseen by the women cleaning on Saturday morning; the vacuum’s blare wiped out my footsteps. Early for a women’s breakfast, I thought I’d say hi to Jesus. In our church, an alcove creates a private space in front of the tabernacle. When I sat there, I sang a Communion hymn from my childhood so I wouldn’t scare anyone when I emerged from the hidden spot: Oh, Lord, I am not […]

Mary’s Humility

In a homily last week, Pope Francis talked about “fear of the Lord” as a humble way of living. As reported in Zenit: “The humility of the childlike is that of somebody who walks in the presence of the Lord, does not speak badly about others, looks only at serving and feels that he or she is the smallest …. That is where their strength lies.” The Holy Father praised Mary’s humility, as a girl […]

Honesty and Humility

Honesty is an integral part of humility, which means saying yes to our humanness, accepting both the agony and the ecstasy of our creaturehood. We are of the earth—humus—and are called to embrace the totality of who we are. To accept our limitations and fulfill our potential takes courage. Humility—accepting the truth—requires honesty. Honesty and humility demand surrender or a letting go of our desire for control, security, esteem, and approval. Honesty and humility call […]

Three Ingredients in a Recipe for Gratitude

So many times a day we say “thank you” out of nothing more than common courtesy at best or, at worst, out of habit, with no realization that we even said it. Thus, saying “thank you” is actually the least impactful part of being grateful. My spiritual director will often instruct me to “sit with a feeling”—not judge it or rationalize it, but instead just “sit with it” so I really feel it. What does […]

The Grace of Shame

Pope Francis is certainly full of surprises. His words on July 31, the Feast of St. Ignatius, are a good example. Ignatius’s feast is an occasion to celebrate all things Ignatian. Jesuits recall their founder’s vision and the way the Society has sustained it for five centuries. They recommit themselves to their mission. They have parties. I had a notion that the first Jesuit pope would take the occasion of Ignatius’s feast to do something […]

Studying Intellectual Humility

The John Templeton Foundation has awarded a $3 million grant to Saint Louis University to study intellectual humility. This sounds right for the philosophy department at a Jesuit university.  Humility is central to the Ignatian tradition. (See articles by Joseph Tetlow, SJ, here and here.)  It seems that one of the problems encountered by those studying intellectual humility is identifying it. Those who have it aren’t likely to tell anyone else about it.  There are plenty of other […]

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