St. Augustine said, “Humility is the foundation of all the virtues; therefore, in a soul where it does not exist there can be no true virtue, but the mere appearance only.
“In like manner, it is the most proper disposition for all celestial gifts. And, finally, it is so necessary to perfection, that of all the ways to reach it, the first is humility; the second, humility; the third, humility. And if the question were repeated 100 times, I should always give the same answer.”
Humility and truth
St. Vincent de Paul said, “Humility is nothing but truth, and pride is nothing but lying.”
A humble person does not fancy he knows what he does not know. He would neither boast of what he knew, nor pretend to be more ignorant than he was. A truly humble person wants to be humble, not just appear humble.
St. Vincent said, “The most powerful weapon to conquer the devil is humility, for as he does not know at all how to employ it, neither does he know how to defend himself from it.”
Knowledge of God and of self helps us to grow in humility. Distrust of self is a real virtue if it is accompanied by trust in God.
St. Francis de Sales wrote, “Assuredly, nothing so tends to humble us before the compassion of God as the multitude of His gifts to us; just as nothing so tends to humble us before His justice as the multitude of our misdeeds. Let us consider what He has done for us, and what we have done contrary to His will, and as we review our sins in detail, so let us review His grace in the same.”
Humility and trust in God are inseparable. The saint pointed out that “distrustful humility is always a false humility.” Self-distrust and confidence in God are the two mystic wings of the soul ascending to God.
Humility and virtues
St. Francis de Sales used to say, “Humility is a descending charity, and charity is an ascending humility.”
He wrote, “When charity requires it, you should readily and kindly impart to your neighbour not only that which is necessary for his instruction, but also what is profitable for his consolation. The same humility which conceals graces with a view to their preservation is ready to bring them forth at the bidding of charity, with a view to their increase and perfection.”
St. Thomas of Villanova pointed out that “humility is the mother of many virtues.”
St. Francis de Sales wrote, “You may test real worth as we test balm, which is tried by being distilled in water, and if it is precipitated to the bottom, it is known to be pure and precious.
“So if you want to know whether a man is really wise, learned, generous, or noble, observe whether his gifts make him humble, modest, and submissive. If so, his gifts are genuine; but if they are only surface and showy, you may be sure that in proportion as they make a show, so are they less worthy.”
St. Josemaria Escriva wrote, “It was because of pride. You thought you were already capable of everything, all by yourself. But then He left you for a moment and you fell, headlong. Be humble, and His extraordinary aid will not fail you.”
The saint also wrote, “Get rid of those proud thoughts! You are but the brush in the hand of the artist, and nothing more. Tell me, what is a brush good for if it doesn’t let the artist do his work?”