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What Is Humility?

Humility is an attitude which helps us to overcome the limitations and weaknesses in our lives. Father Nicolás Schwizer teaches more.
by Father Nicolás Schwizer | Source: Schoenstatt Press

Humility is an attitude which helps us to overcome the limitations and weaknesses in our lives. What is humility? Father Joseph Kentenich, Founder of the Schoenstatt Movement says: “Humility is the moral virtue by which one experiences oneself as totally weak when separated from God and totally strong when submerged in God.” Humility is something very different from feelings or inferiority complexes, which are expressions of dejection or depression. Today, many suffer with these complexes and feelings, especially those persons with melancholic temperaments. But the truly humble person is not anxious, otherwise nervous, or ill-tempered.

Humility as smallness and greatness
Humility contains two life sentiments which are apparently in opposition: smallness and greatness. Whoever only experiences his own smallness will in the long run fall into an inferiority complex. On the contrary, whoever only experiences his own greatness will become proud and presumptuous. In Mary, the human being par excellence, there is the perfect equilibrium: within herself she feels small, but at the same time, she feels loved and exalted by God.

Humility as greatness is, then, to feel accepted, valued and loved by the Father. It is the resting in God which gives us security. It is the experience which tranquilizes our hearts and permits us to accept smallness and limitations without anxiety. We can feel loved and, therefore, great and important in the eyes of God.

Humility as smallness is to accept ourselves as limited and sinful creatures before the perfect and holy God. Thus Saint Teresa says that humility is truth. The authentic man finds himself well when he is truthful: it is the spontaneity of the person who has nothing to hide, it is the spontaneity of the child.

Therefore, humility is not hiding one’s own talents. The Biblical ideal of meekness is not the same as a lack of personality; patience is not cowardice and passivism; smallness and simplicity is not mediocrity. When Jesus speaks of those who are “afflicted and troubled” He is not referring to sick melancholy.

If we do not wrap our minds around the true humility, we will never be truly free people. On the contrary, hiding our own personalities, being cowards, adepts of mediocrity, and irresponsibly permissive will easily push us into psychological problems and even a physiological ones.

Nerves. Therefore, Father Kentenich also says: “In general, the humble man is not nervous.” Or in other words: If we are nervous – not when we have clinical neurological problems, but when we behave anxiously - we have to analyze whether or not this happens because we are lacking humility in our lives.”

In that sense, for Fr. Kentenich, smallness is “not thinking so high of myself .”  Do not think so high of yourself to the point of blocking God’s grace. Do not think so greatly of your weaknesses that you cannot accept that God’s grace on your is more than your own human imperfections. Fr. Kentenich teaches us to think like this: My person is not important, neither is my health, nor my honor, nor my work, nor my love, nor my misery, or the lack of any or all these things, or something else. You have to die to yourself, so that God can live in you (Galatians 2:20). I am only an instrument (Romans 6:13).

Very well then, who is important? Only God the Father is. We should give importance only to him. He is the most transcendental person in our world. I only give importance to God’s work, the Kingdom of the Father. He does everything. I only help him a little. The honor of what I am doing is not for me, it is for God. Not I, only God. “I must decrease and he must increase” (John 3: 30), said St. John the Baptist.

If I do not give importance to myself and only give it to God the Father and his work, then he gives importance to me. The less importance I give to myself, the more I am important to Him. It is the mystery of authentic childlikeness: because I am small, I please God the Father; because I am small, therefore, I am great.

Here we understand another phrase of Father Kentenich: “You are the one who does the greatest works only in those who are the smallest and through those who are the smallest.”

Questions for Meditation
1. Do I think of myself as a nervous person?
2. How do I relate my nervousness to a lack of humility?
3. What does the phrase “not to give myself importance” say to me?

If you wish to subscribe, comment on the text or give your testimony, write to:

Translation: Carlos Cantú
Edited by:

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Post a Comment
Published by: Awodipe Tolu
Date: 2012-04-22 11:29:00
I'm really glad i 'stumbled' on this article,i actually had water in my eyes halfway into the article;i was that touched. I'm a member of the schoenstatt group here in Nigeria and i'm still in the process of growing spiritually in the life and teachings of Fr. Kentenich and honestly,articles like this help. Hope to see more of this.

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