Living In The World, But Not Of The World
According to St. Benedict, there are twelve degrees of humility by which we are called to attain by the grace of GOD. To attain perfection in humility, there must first be the desire to fulfill GOD's holy Will, and then be subject to your superior, whom GOD has placed at your service. To the laity who do not belong to any Order or apostolate, your Superior is Christ JESUS, through the Church which He established
Jesus renounced pride from the time of His Birth, right up to His Crucifixion. In one of His sermon's, Our Lord stated: "Everyone that exalteth himself shall be humbled, and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted, (Luke 14:11)." Therefore let us humble ourselves before GOD in our prayers, works and actions, striving to gain everlasting glory.
THE FIRST DEGREE OF HUMILITY: Keep the fear of GOD before your eyes, altogether shunning forgetfulness. Consider that GOD is always beholding you from Heaven, that your actions are everywhere visible to Him, and are constantly being reported by the angels.
THE SECOND DEGREE OF HUMILITY: A man should not love his own will, nor delight in fulfilling his own desires. Let us carry out in deed the saying of the Lord: "I came not to do my own will, but the will of him who sent me, (John 6:38)." GOD is calling us to follow His holy Will. We are all part of His great plan of salvation, we all have a special role to play, therefore let us set our hearts on that which lasts forever and that is Heaven. Those who desire to follow their own will shall never leave the ground and shall always be part of the world.
THE THIRD DEGREE OF HUMILITY: For the love of GOD, one should subject himself to his superior in all obedience, imitating the Lord, of whom the apostle Paul says: "He was made obedient even unto death," (Phil 2:8). JESUS was obedient to the Father by following His Will and offering Himself on our behalf that we (sinners), may be reconciled with the Father and our sins be forgiven.
THE FOURTH DEGREE OF HUMILITY: Meeting in this obedience with difficulties and contradictions and even injustice, one should with a quiet mind hold fast to patience...Moreover, in adversities and injuries, patiently fulfil the Lord 's commands; when struck on one cheek offer the other, when robbed of tunic surrender also your cloak, when forced to go a mile go two, and with the St. Paul, bear with false brethren, and bless those that curse you.
THE FIFTH DEGREE OF HUMILITY: Humbly confess and do not conceal from the superior any evil thoughts that enter the heart, and any secret sins committed. The religious and laity are called to humble themselves before a priest to confess their sins. Therefore when that day comes, we can say to the Lord: "I have made known my sins to thee, and my faults I have not concealed."
THE SIXTH DEGREE OF HUMILITY: A man be content with the meanest and worst of everything, and esteem himself, in regard to work that is given him, as a bad and unworthy workman, saying to himself with the prophet: "I am brought to nothing; I am all ignorance; I am become as a dumb beast before thee; yet am I ever close to thee," (Ps 72: 22-23).
THE SEVENTH DEGREE OF HUMILITY: One should not only in his speech declare himself lower and of less account than all others, but should in his own inmost heart believe it, humbling himself with the prophet: "But I am a worm, and no man, the reproach of men, and the outcast of the people," (Ps 21:7).
THE EIGHTH DEGREE OF HUMILITY: Do nothing except what is commended by the common rules of the order or apostolate and the examples of the superior, living under rules which increases the desire to live and labour for the glory of GOD.
THE NINTH DEGREE OF HUMILITY: Restrain the tongue and keep silence, not speaking until questioned. For the scripture shows "the talkative man shall not prosper on the earth, " (Ps 139:12).
THE TENTH DEGREE OF HUMILITY: Be not ready and prompt to laughter, for it is written: "The fool lifteth up his voice in laughter," (Sir 21:23).
THE ELEVENTH DEGREE OF HUMILITY: When you speak, do so gently and without laughter, humbly and seriously, in few and sensible words, and with clamour. It is written: "A wise man is known by the fewness of his words."
THE TWELFTH DEGREE OF HUMILITY: Not only should one be humble of heart, but should also in behaviour always manifest humility to those who look upon you. That is to say, whether at the Work of GOD, in the oratory, in the monastery, in the garden, on the road, in the fields, or anywhere else, and whether sitting, walking, or standing, you should always have your head bowed and eyes downcast. Constantly say in your heart what was said by the publican who would not so much as lift up his eyes towards Heaven: " O'GOD, be merciful to me a sinner," (Luke 18:13).
FINALLY, when all these degrees of humility have been climbed, you will presently come to that perfect love of GOD which casts out all fear. Let us now imitate JESUS in his humility and follow in His example, for as Our Lord said:
"Learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart."