Friday, June 05, 2009

Rule of St Benedict Reading for June 5, 2009

February 4, June 5, October 5
Chapter 7: On Humility
The seventh degree of humility
is that he consider himself lower and of less account
than anyone else,
and this not only in verbal protestation
but also with the most heartfelt inner conviction,
humbling himself and saying with the Prophet,
"But I am a worm and no man,
the scorn of men and the outcast of the people" (Ps. 21[22]:7).
"After being exalted, I have been humbled
and covered with confusion" (Pa. 87:16).
And again,
"It is good for me that You have humbled me,
that I may learn Your commandments" (Ps. 118[119]:71).

Some thoughts

Perhaps Kardong's translation will help:

The 7th step of humility is surmounted if the monk no only confesses with his tongue but also believes with all his heart that he is lower and less honorable than all the rest. He thus abases himself, declaring with the Prophet "I, though, am a worm., not a man. I am the object of curses and rejection. I was raised but now I am humiliated and covered with confusion." Along the same line "It is good for me that you humiliate me so that I might keep your commandments."

So what does this tell us? I think it tells us that humility should not be merely verbal but a matter of profound conviction.. Philippians tells us to look to the interests of the other, rather than to our own.

It's a nice contrast to the messages we are bombarded with that we are to believe that we are not only as good as the next guy, we are even better. Where does such a teaching lead us but deep into pride, hubris.

Rather than concentrate on the negative aspects of this passage which if taken too far could lead one to self-hate and self abuse, I prefer to look at the implied positive aspects: we are totally dependent on grace and that truly whatever good we do is a result of grace. After all it is the Giver of the gifts that gave us whatever talents and skills we have. We may have developed the raw material, but the source is always God.



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