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A couple of weeks ago, Deacon Joe preached at our Volunteer Retreat.  It was a great opportunity for parishioners who give so much of themselves to gather together and be nourished by the Word that is the source of all we do here.  One of the virtues that he spoke about that is absolutely necessary for a life of Christian service – the life to which all of us are called, and not just through “official” ministries in the Church – was humility.  If our model for this life is Jesus Christ, who washed the feet of His disciples, then we must place ourselves beneath everyone else so that we might serve them.  The second we start to think we’re better than anyone else, it becomes impossible to be the hands and voice of Christ to them.

Humility is often a misunderstood virtue.  It isn’t about being falsely modest, or about thinking that we’re not good at anything.  Rather, it’s about seeing God as the source of all that is good about us, and seeing our lives in right relation to Him.  Deacon Joe offered some advice on cultivating this virtue, borrowing Mother Teresa’s 15 tips on growing in humility.  I wasn’t familiar with this list before, but it was so good that I thought it was worth sharing with all of you.  Here are Mother Teresa’s tips:

 

  • Speak as little as possible about yourself.
  • Keep busy with your own affairs and not those of others.
  • Avoid curiosity
  • Do not interfere in the affairs of others.
  • Accept small irritations with good humor.
  • Do not dwell on the faults of others.
  • Accept censures even if unmerited.
  • Give in to the will of others.
  • Accept insults and injuries.
  • Accept contempt, being forgotten and disregarded.
  • Be courteous and delicate even when provoked by someone.
  • Do not seek to be admired and loved.
  • Do not protect yourself behind your own dignity.
  • Give in, in discussions, even when you are right.
  • Choose always the more difficult task.

 

My guess is that, for most of us, many of these tips are things that we heard from our own mothers.  Some may be ideas that we believe are correct but have a really hard time putting into practice.  And some may seem counterintuitive – we may look at one or two of them and wonder why on earth she would suggest those!  But if we want to grow in holiness, it helps to listen to the advice of holy people, so what if we were to give these tips a try?  In particular, if there’s an item on this list that doesn’t seem to sit right with you, spend some time in prayer talking to the Lord about it to see if He might actually be challenging you to grow and change in one of these ways.

We live in a world that seems to be becoming less and less civil, and in which people separate themselves into groups that become increasingly hostile to one another.  We’re surrounded by violence, arguing, labeling, judging, posturing, exclusion, and all sorts of things that weary our souls.  We could use an increase in humility in the world, so perhaps cultivating this virtue within ourselves is a great way to offer a meaningful witness to the world this Lent.