Imitate the Lord

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CHAPTER VII. Of Humility

31 Jan. 1 June. 1 Oct.
The third degree of humility is, that a man for the love of God submit himself to his superior in all obedience; imitating the Lord, of Whom the apostle saith: "He was made obedient even unto death."


Submission (from the Latin to put under) comes easily to no one. An instinctive pride would have one place oneself above his fellows, if not outwardly, then, at least, secretly in one's thoughts and judgments. "I know more, I know better" or even, "I am more, I am better." One begins by placing oneself above one's brethren, and one ends by placing oneself above God. Such a dizzying, diabolical ascent in pride leads to open revolt against God.

Having Recognized Love

Saint Benedict proposes submission to one's superior in all obedience as the remedy to pride: not just any submission, but a submission freely chosen with two motives in view: (1) for the love of God, and (2) imitating the Lord. Monastic submission is not the cowardly, cringing submission of one who fears the crack of the whip and the unpleasantness of conflict. It is the willing submission out of love, in love, and for love's sake of one who, with Saint John, has learned "to believe in love." "We have learned to recognize the love God has in our regard, to recognize it, and to make it our belief. God is love; he who dwells in love dwells in God, and God in him" (1 John 4:16).

The Eucharistic Humility of God

One learns submission by contemplating the sacramental sub-mission of Our Divine Lord in the Most Holy Eucharist. He places Himself under the lowly appearance of bread, and remains there in abiding submission to the will of the Father. "Believe me when I tell you this; the bread that comes from heaven is not what Moses gave you. The real bread from heaven is given only by my Father. God's gift of bread comes down from heaven and gives life to the whole world" (John 6:32-33). These days within Octave of Corpus Christi are given us that we might gaze upon the Eucharistic humility of the Hidden God, and be conformed in submission and in obedience to Him whom we contemplate beneath the sacramental veils. Is this not what Saint Benedict means when he invites us to imitate the Lord?

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About Dom Mark

Dom Mark Daniel Kirby is Conventual Prior of Silverstream Priory in Stamullen, County Meath, Ireland. The ecclesial mandate of his Benedictine community is the adoration of the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar in a spirit of reparation, and in intercession for the sanctification of priests.

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