The Humility Our Age Needs

In this month of June, our lost culture celebrates with the fervor of a religion “Pride Month.” Our age is beset with “pride.” It is a fitting title because it reveals the truth of the celebration and its connection to Lucifer’s non serviam. It is all about pride and doing things our own way, rather than following God’s ways. In the Church, it is the Month of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. The God-man who is meek and humble of heart. The one who comes to heal and free us from sin and death. He frees us by purging us of our sins and weaknesses.

The Lord leads us to confront the darkness within, to cry out to Him for strength in our weakness, and to be released from temptations and inclinations that turn us away from Him. He has to free us from our pride and that is a painful process. This confrontation is taking place in the culture wars at a high pitch, but the battle is meant to begin within our own hearts. It is this battle that leads us to humility, which is the opposite of pride. This is one of the many reasons we have been unable to confront “Pride Month.” The only antidote ultimately is humility.

G.K. Chesterton famously responded to the question “What is wrong with the world today?” with “I am.” Our haughtiness and pride in judging the sins of others while ignoring our own is rampant today. We all do it. This does not mean we should not call out evil, but it does mean that when we focus on everyone else’s sins, we tend to neglect our own. We also fail to grasp that under the right circumstances, we are all capable of great evil. We are all capable of abandoning or betraying Our Lord, turning from Him every time we sin.

The Our Father has a much-debated line that we pray: “Lead us not into temptation.” The Lord does not lead us to temptation. The world, the flesh, and the devil are the forces that lead us into sin. This line is a cry for help in the midst of our daily battle against these forces that weaken us. It is an acknowledgement that without the grace of God, we will repeatedly fall into temptation.

One of the most important lessons the Lord taught me about the spiritual life is that as we make our way closer to God, the battle intensifies. In fact, the more we seek to grow in prayer and holiness, the harder the fight gets, so much so that we repeatedly encounter our powerlessness and weakness. The temptations we face at times reach an intensity that is overwhelming. This is by design.

The spiritual life is a long purgation. It is a confrontation between the darkness within and the light of Christ. In this confrontation, we are forced to see the darkness that lies within our own hearts, and we won’t like what we see. In fact, it can be downright horrifying. Through this process—guided by the Holy Spirit through daily committed prayer—we start to understand that it is only by the grace of God that we do not battle the same sins as others. It is only His merciful divine plan for our lives that keeps us from marching in the Castro district of San Francisco waving the flags of hedonism and nihilism. Given the state of our culture, it is truly only by His grace that we are not lost in the confusion or have come to conversion. Rather than lead us to vitriolic anger, it should wake us up to the need to reach out to those who are lost.

I can remember very clearly a few years ago wrestling in prayer with the reality that it is only God’s grace and His plan that led me to become a spiritual mother to priests during a time when priests were falling into affairs at a startlingly high rate in my diocese. I realized that the only difference between those women and me was the Lord’s protection and plan. He gave me the graces necessary for His mission for me, which is to love with the Immaculate Heart of His Mother through a pure, holy charity in order to fight and defend the priesthood in prayer, sacrifice, suffering, and to minister to priests and seminarians in their hours of need.

To drive the point home, the Lord allowed me to be treated by some priests as if I am one of those women. In fact, this will probably be a life-long accusation from the enemy. I experienced being misunderstood and being accused of things I had not done. The Lord allowed me to become a scapegoat for these women to teach me humility and so that I could offer those sufferings in reparation for the sins of priests and my sisters in Christ. The Lord wanted me to understand that it was His divine plan that kept me safely in the mantle of Our Blessed Mother and that I could easily have been those other women if not for His plan and mission for my life. In another life, I could have been someone who leads a priest from the altar rather than fighting tooth and nail for them to remain there.

This is the reality for every single one of us regardless of vocation and mission. It is only by His merciful love that any of us are called to the vocations and missions we are given and that we persevere in them. Remember the next time you feed the homeless or minister to a woman in a crisis pregnancy or discover a friend is having an affair and abandoned their family, that it is only by His grace that you are not in their situation. It is not by some merit of our own. History is filled with Christian men and women who started out with a heart for Christ, but who confronted some temptation that became their ruin.

It is this understanding that is lacking in the discourse of the day. So often we believe, like St. Peter, that we would never abandon the Lord in His darkest hour—that “only others would do so.” We think it is impossible to ever become Judas. World history is full of well-meaning people who abandoned or betrayed Our Lord when fear, terror, pleasure, and suffering struck. If we truly understood the Sacrament of Confession, we would realize that every time we enter that Sacrament, we are confessing that we have been the Apostles who abandoned the Lord on the Cross or Judas who betrayed Him.

Humility is a difficult virtue to foster in our fallen state, but it is essential for growing in holiness and entering heaven. The Lord allows us to face temptations in order to strengthen us spiritually so that we love Him above all else but also to show us the darkness within so that we can grow in humility.

Lessons in humility are painful. Our ego is a tyrant, so we feel the deep stings of humiliation until we begin to understand and see ourselves as Christ sees us. True freedom comes through this process. There is no other way except to confront the darkness within guided by the Holy Spirit. We must stop hyperfocusing on other people’s sins and begin to confront our own. Only then will we be able to help them.

As we continue to confront a culture that celebrates “pride,” let us remember that it is only by God’s grace that we do not fall into certain sins and temptations. Only humility can root out pride. If we want to truly confront the “pride” of our culture, then we as a Church must foster greater humility. We must bring our weakness and total dependence to the Lord, and acknowledge how we are at every moment, close to the precipice of falling into temptation and that He alone is stronger than all our weaknesses. Quis ut Deus?

Photo by Vince Fleming on Unsplash


Constance T. Hull is a wife, mother, homeschooler, and a graduate with an M.A. in Theology with an emphasis in philosophy. Her desire is to live the wonder so passionately preached in the works of G.K. Chesterton and to share that with her daughter and others. While you can frequently find her head inside of a great work of theology or philosophy, she considers her husband and daughter to be her greatest teachers. She is passionate about beauty, working towards holiness, the Sacraments, and all things Catholic. She is also published at The Federalist, Public Discourse, and blogs frequently at Swimming the Depths.

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