CHAPTER VII. Of Humility
30 Jan. 31 May. 30 Sept.
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.”
The second degree of humility has three parts. The first is that a man love not his own will. The second is that he not delight in fulfilling his own desires. And the third is that he carry out in his deeds the word of Our Lord from the sixth chapter of Saint John’s Gospel: “I came down from heaven, not to do my own will, but the will of him that sent me” (John 6:38).
Have you ever encountered a man who is driven to get what he wants, when he wants it, and in the way he wants it? Such a man loves his own will. He loves it to the point of imposing it on others. When his own will does not prevail, he falls into sullenness or into rage. This sort of reaction can be provoked by very little things. Have you ever encountered a man who is galvanised and energised when things are going his way, but lethargic and listless when his own wishes are impeded or denied? It is by such reactions that one knows what is in a man’s heart. Each of us, I think, recognises himself in these things. As Nathan said to King David, “Thou art the man” (2 KIngs 12:7). What does the Apostle say?
Of this I am certain, that no principle of good dwells in me, that is, in my natural self; praiseworthy intentions are always ready to hand, but I cannot find my way to the performance of them; it is not the good my will prefers, but the evil my will disapproves, that I find myself doing. And if what I do is something I have not the will to do, it cannot be I that bring it about, it must be the sinful principle that dwells in me. This, then, is what I find about the law, that evil is close at my side, when my will is to do what is praiseworthy. Inwardly, I applaud God’s disposition, but I observe another disposition in my lower self, which raises war against the disposition of my conscience, and so I am handed over as a captive to that disposition towards sin which my lower self contains. Pitiable creature that I am, who is to set me free from a nature thus doomed to death? Nothing else than the grace of God, through Jesus Christ our Lord. (Romans 7:15-25)
The grace of God, through Jesus Christ our Lord, is communicated to us by the Holy Ghost. And it is the Holy Ghost who works in us those things that, of ourselves, we cannot do. It is the Holy Ghost who changes in us the things that we never thought it possible to change. It is the Holy Ghost who removes burdens from which we have been unable to free ourselves after years and even after decades of struggle. The answer to every defeat, to every impossibility, to every struggle is Veni, Sancte Spiritus, “Come, Holy Ghost”. This is not to say that the ordinary human means of identifying weaknesses and bringing healing are to be set aside. Quite the contrary. The Holy Ghost works through the ordinary human means and through the whole sacramental economy to heal our wounded nature and to build on it.
This morning, and for the next seven days, we shall be singing at Holy Mass “the Golden Sequence”, the Veni, Sancte Spiritus.
Holy Spirit, come and shine
On our souls with beams divine,
Issuing from thy radiance bright.
Come, O Father of the poor,
Ever bounteous of thy store,
Come, our hearts’ unfailing light.
Come, consoler, kindest, best,
Come our bosom’s dearest guest,
Sweet refreshment, sweet repose.
Rest in labour, coolness sweet,
Tempering the burning heat,
Truest comfort of our woes.
O divinest light, impart
Unto every faithful heart,
Plenteous streams from love’s bright flood.
But for thy Blest Deity,
Nothing pure in man could be:
Nothing harmless, nothing good.
Wash away each sinful stain,
Gently shed thy gracious rain
On the dry and fruitless soil.
Heal each wound and bend each will,
Warm our hearts benumbed and chill,
All our wayword steps control.
Unto all thy faithful just,
Who in thee confide and trust,
Deign thy sevenfold gift to send.
Grant us virtue’s blest increase,
Grant a death of hope and peace,
Grant the joys that never end.
What is the work of the Holy Ghost in us? It is to reproduce Christ. It is to make us by the operations of His grace what Christ is by nature. It is to give us the joy of being filii in Filio, sons in the Son. The Holy Ghost works in us to conform us to that saying of the Lord in the discourse on the Bread of Life: “I came not to do mine own will, but the will of Him Who sent me” (John 6:38). It is by the work of the Holy Ghost that we become what Abbot Celestino Maria Colombo would have us be: figli dell’Ostia all’Ostia, “sons of the Host for the Host”. In what consists our resemblance to the Host? In saying this in truth and from the heart: “Behold, I come to do thy will, O God” (Hebrews 10:9).