Chapter 2 – Have an Humble Opinion of Yourself
II Have an Humble Opinion of Yourself download the pdf
Some saint, I believe it was St. Philip Neri, heard a certain Sister praised very highly for her virtues. People said she was a real saint; and the fame of her holiness was spreading all around. St. Philip wanted to find out how much truth there was in the reported sanctity of this person; he wanted to try her virtue. What did he do?
He put on old, patched clothes, an old crumpled hat, and a pair of torn boots—sure he looked like a real beggar, and nobody would have the least idea that this was St. Philip—and in that guise he started off to visit the Sister whose holiness he heard people praise so much. Before he came to the convent, he took care to wade through a mud puddle, to dirty his boots, and thus to give them a worse appearance than they already had.
When the portress opened the door and asked what he wanted, he told her he wished to see that Sister about whose virtues and sanctity people were talking so much, that he had something particular to say, about which he wanted her counsel. Accordingly, the nun was called.
“Poor man! What can I do for you?” she asked
“Would you, please, just pull off my boots?” St. Philip asked in return.
“What, you beggar! I pull off your boots? Get out of here as fast as you can!” and she left the “beggar” and went out of the room, not a little angry.
“Aha! Well!” thought the Saint to himself, “the sanctity of this Sister is not so very deep. The foundation is wanting. She is not humble.”
Do you see now, my child? I told you the last time that, if you want to be a true follower of Jesus, first of all, be humble. But to be or to become humble is not so easy. The virtue of humility can be more easily talked about than acquired. Yet it is true, and you can see it from what I have told you about St. Philip and the nun, that without humility you cannot become holy, you cannot become a true follower of Jesus.
Now, then, what will you begin with? You want to become humble, for you want to be a follower of Jesus. First, you must always have a humble opinion of yourself. And how can you get it? Jesus will help you to it: just ask Him for grace. But you must also think over the matter yourself. Study and try to find out how much you are worth. If you find out that, as to your body, you are worth nothing, it will not be hard for you to get a humble opinion of yourself.
I said, as o your body; for if we regard you soul, you have an infinite worth. And what are you as to your body?
Remember, I pray you, first, that whatever gift you think you have, you received from God. Your body itself comes from God; He created it for you, body and soul. If you think you have lovely eyes, a fair complexion, fine hair, and so on, do not forget that they come from God. You gave nothing to yourself: God gave it all to you. He might have created without these fair gifts, and h can take them from you at any moment, if he wants to. And after all, what will the fair gifts of the body that you possess be reduced to in the end? To worms and ashes! Think of it. Therefore, the fair complexion you would sometimes be proud of is only a covering for worms and ashes.
And what about your mental gifts? Maybe you have good talent; you can easily beat others in learning. And you will learn many things, till you are grown up. Perhaps you will be, someday, what we call a philosopher: you will know wonderful things about the stars, and the animals, and the plants, and many other things; and people will praise you for your knowledge. But ask yourself: Who gave me the talent to learn? Was it not God? I did not give it to myself. And God can take it from me at any moment. What reason have I, therefore, to be proud?
You cannot do even the least good work without God’s grace helping you. All that you can do—ah! Yes, and haven’t we all done it so many, many times?—without His aid, is to offend Him by committing sin. Is that something to be proud of? The, it should not be hard for you to have a humble opinion of yourself.
And never think yourself better than another. That boy or girl may have fewer bodily gifts than you have, but just for that very reason he or she may be more pleasing to God than you are. Never despise a sinner. He may be converted and become a saint; and you may become worse than he is and be lost. “To think nothing of ourselves,” The Following of Christ says, “and always judge well and highly of others, is great wisdom and high perfection.”