virtue-humility-facebookFamVin has been featuring a series “Learning to say #IAmVincent – From Value to Virtue” on the 5 Vincentian Virtues from the perspective of the lay Society of St. Vincent DePaul. To say #IamVincent means to live a life of virtue. Actually, it means to live a life of five essential virtues. The second is Humility: the virtue of nearness.

From the recent post…

In view of our desire to promote love and respect toward the poor, the Rule of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul proposes the practice of humility which supposes accepting the truth about our frailties, gifts, talents, and charism, yet knowing that all that God gives us is for others and that we can achieve nothing of eternal value without his grace (Rule, #2.5.1).

The word, humility, (which comes from the Latin, humus [soil of the earth] and which indicates something “that is of little importance”) points out the virtue of those individuals who recognize their limitations as created beings and who furthermore accept their inability to attain salvation apart from God who freely bestows that gift upon them. The description that we find in the Rule highlights precisely that reality.

… We begin to understand all of these concepts when we focus on the gospel or when we read the writings of our Founders. In today’s world, however, it is not always easy to understand such concepts. Technological and scientific developments have multiplied our possibilities and have likewise nourished our self-complacency. Today, human nature is viewed more positively and our awareness of our own dignity has been heightened. We proclaim the equality of all people and demand respect for the human rights of all men and women. All of this is very good but, it can also make us arrogant. Our understanding of sin has changed and we no longer view everything as evil, but rather more often than not we have become indifferent to the reality of sin. Thus, it has become more and more difficult to recognize short-comings, to identify defects and to give a name to sin. We justify all of this by having recourse to psychology, to the signs of the time, to society and to the environment in which we find ourselves. In this context, then, it is not easy to humbly accept one’s limitations nor is it easy to confront those limitations calmly and with courage.

At the same, our understanding of the virtues has also changed. Vincent constantly spoke about mortification, penance, humility, obedience, meekness, renunciation … virtues that imply effort, sacrifice, self-control, discipline. Today, none of this obtains a good reception and preference is given to self-esteem, aggressiveness, effectiveness, dynamism … and none of those are viewed from the perspective of humility.

Nonetheless, we highlight the fact that humility is the fundamental virtue that is found in the gospel…

Jesus invites us to draw closer to him if we want to find consolation and fulfillment … we are invited to draw closer to the One who is meek and humble of heart. Let us accept that invitation and imitate his humility as we follow in his footsteps.

Continue reading the valuable insights into this virtue for today.