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The second degree of humility is, that a man love not his own will, nor delight in fulfilling his own desires; but carry out in his deeds that saying of the Lord: “I came not to do mine own will, but the will of Him Who sent me.” And again Scripture saith: “Self-will hath punishment, but necessity wins the crown.”
Attachment to one’s own will springs from pride. The man who loves his own will is set on doing what he wants, in the way he thinks best, and when he wants to do it. Such a man man makes his own will the measure of right and wrong. The man who loves his own will, is convinced that he alone sees things clearly, that he alone understands rightly. He will therefore seek to prevail even in small things and to impose his will on others.
How does one know if one is attached to one’s own will? By the degree of irritation or even anger that one experiences when one’s own will is thwarted, or contradicted, or corrected. There is another way also of knowing if one is attached to one’s own will; it is by the smug delight one experiences in the fulfillment of one’s own desires. The prideful man says to himself with satisfaction, “I have prevailed as indeed is right for I alone see clearly and understand rightly.”
Obstinate attachment to one’s own will is ordinarily accompanied by impatience with others and by rash judgments. The prideful man can hardly conceive of another man seeing more clearly, understanding more deeply, or arriving at a conclusion different from his own. The man who loves his own will is inclined to argue his point until his superior is driven to capitulation by sheer weariness.
At the core of the second degree of humility, Saint Benedict places a word from Our Lord’s discourse on the Bread of Life: “It is the will of him who sent me, not my own will, that I have come down from heaven to do” (John 6:38). The illuminating phrase is quia descendi de cælo. In the Mectildian hermeneutic of the Holy Rule, this refers not only to the Son of God’s self-emptying descent in the mystery of the Incarnation, but also to His descent, day after day, to the altar, where, in obedience to the words of the priest, He comes down to be offered in sacrifice, to be given in Holy Communion, and to abide in hiddenness and silence.
The Sacred Host is Christ truly present; it is also the icon of His obedience to the Father’s designs. It was the will of the Father that the Son should, out of the burning love of His Heart, invent the Most Holy Eucharist, and submit Himself until the end of time to the mystery thus invented.
Jesus knowing that his hour was come, that he should pass out of this world to the Father: having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them unto the end. (John 13:1)
One might say that, by the institution of the Most Holy Eucharist, Our Lord vowed obedience to every priest who, in the course of the ages, would carry out His command: Hoc facite in meam commemorationem, “Do this for a commemoration of me” (Luke 22:19). One cannot confess the real presence of Christ in the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar, nor receive His sacred Body and precious Blood in Holy Communion, nor adore Him beneath the appearances of the Host, without being drawn after Him into the mystery of His obedience.