On Holy Humility

‘Christ washing the Feet of the Disciples’ 1575-80 Jacopo Tintoretto

The Golden Sayings of Brother Giles of Assisi, Chapter IV

No one can come to the knowledge of God except through humility. The way of going above is to go below.

All the perils and all the great disasters that have taken place in the world would not have happened save for holding the head high, as is clear in the case of him who was created in heaven, and of Adam, and of the pharisee in the Gospel, and many others. And all the great good that has taken place has been on account of inclining the head, as is clear in the case of the Blessed Virgin, of the publican, of the good thief, and of many others. Blessed Giles also said: “O! that we might have a great pack which would always make us bend our head!”

A certain Brother said to him: “How can we flee from this pride?” And he said: “For this wash thy hands and there put thy mouth where thou keepest thy feet. If thou wert to consider the benefits of God, thou oughtest to bow thy head; and if thou wert to consider thy sins, thou oughtest to bow thy head in like manner. Woe to him who wisheth to be honored on account of his badness.”

A great degree of humility in man is to know that he is always opposed to his own welfare. I consider it also the fruit of humility for one to give up what doth not belong to him and not to appropriate it to oneself that is, to attribute all good things to God to whom they belong and evil things to oneself. Blessed is he who esteemeth himself as vile before man, as he knoweth himself to be vile in the sight of God. Blessed is he who judgeth himself now, for he will not come to another judgment.

Blessed is he who walketh faithfully according to the judgment and obedience of another, for this the Apostles did even after they had been filled with the Holy Ghost. He who wisheth to have peace and quiet should esteem every man his superior. Blessed is he who doth not want to appear in his words and manner save in that way in which Divine Grace hath fashioned him. Blessed is he who knoweth how to keep and hide the revelations of God, for there is nothing hidden which God may not reveal when it pleaseth Him.

If a man were to be holier than any in the world and were to reckon himself more contemptible than any in the world in this would there be humility. Humility knoweth not how to speak, and patience dareth not speak. Humility seemeth to me to be like lightning: for as lightning causeth terrible flashes and nothing can afterward be found of it, thus humility dissipateth every evil and is the foe of every sin and causeth man to esteem himself as nothing. Through humility man findeth grace before God and peace with men. For, as a great king, if he wished to send his daughter to some place, would not put her on an unmanageable, proud, and kicking horse, but upon a gentle and easy-going horse just so the Lord doth not place His grace in the proud but in the humble.

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