Sunday, June 26, 2005

Contemplation #12
Thomas a Kempis, The Imitation of Christ, book 2, chapter 2.
It is often good for us to have others know our faults and rebuke them, for it gives us greater humility. When a man humbles himself because of his faults, he easily placates those about him and readily appeases those who are angry with him.
It is the humble man whom God protects and liberates; it is the humble whom He loves and consoles. To the humble He turns and upon them bestows great grace, that after their humiliation He may raise them up to glory. He reveals His secrets to the humble, and with kind invitation bids them come to Him. Thus, the humble man enjoys peace in the midst of many vexations, because his trust is in God, not in the world. Hence, you must not think that you have made any progress until you look upon yourself as inferior to all others.

Contemplation #13
Satan’s Pride and Fall, Ezekiel 28:13-17
"You were in Eden, the garden of God;
Every precious stone was your covering:
The ruby, the topaz and the diamond;
The beryl, the onyx and the jasper;
The lapis lazuli, the turquoise and the emerald;
And the gold, the workmanship of your settings and sockets,
Was in you.
On the day that you were created
They were prepared.

14. "You were the anointed cherub who covers,
And I placed you there.
You were on the holy mountain of God;
You walked in the midst of the stones of fire.

15. "You were blameless in your ways
From the day you were created
Until unrighteousness was found in you.

16. . . .
Therefore I have cast you as profane
From the mountain of God.
And I have destroyed you, O covering cherub,
From the midst of the stones of fire.

17. "Your heart was lifted up because of your beauty;
You corrupted your wisdom by reason of your splendor.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

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Post your comments to this message about humility, or any of the readings to this point.
Contemplation #10
From Humility by Andrew Murray (1828-1917).

The humble man seeks at all times to act up to the rule, "In honor preferring one another; Servants one of another; Each counting others better than himself Subjecting yourselves one to another." The question is often asked, how we can count others better than ourselves, when we see that they are far below us in wisdom and in holiness, in natural gifts, or in grace received. The question proves at once how little we understand what real lowliness of mind is. True humility comes when, in the, light of God, we have seen ourselves to be nothing, have consented to part with and cast away self, to let God be all. The soul that has done this, and can say, So have I lost myself in finding Thee, no longer compares itself with others. It has given up forever every thought of self in God's presence; it meets its fellow-men as one who is nothing, and seeks nothing for itself; who is a servant of God, and for His sake a servant of all. A faithful servant may be wiser than the master, and yet retain the true spirit and posture of the servant. The humble man looks upon every, the feeblest and unworthiest, child of God, and honors him and prefers him in honor as the son of a King. The spirit of Him who washed the disciples' feet, makes it a joy to us to be indeed the least, to be servants one of another.

Contemplation #11
From sermon by Charles Spurgeon, The Meek and Lowly One, delivered July 31st, 1859.

Christ is no egotist; he takes no praise to himself. If ever he utters a word in self-commendation, it is not with that object; it is with another design, namely that he may entice souls to come to him . . . Nobody was afraid of Jesus. The mothers brought their little babes to him: whoever heard of their doing that to Moses? Did ever babe get a blessing of Moses? But Jesus was all meekness—the approachable man, feasting with the wedding guests, sitting down with sinners, conversing with the unholy and the unclean, touching the leper, and making himself at home with all men . . .
Ye may say your little prayer,
"Gentle Jesus, meek and mild,Look on me, a little Child;Pity my simplicity,Suffer me to come to thee."
He will not cast you away, or think you have intruded on him. Ye harlots, ye drunkards, ye feasters, ye wedding guests, ye may all come; "This man receiveth sinners, and eateth with them." He is "meek and lowly in heart." That gives, I think, a still fuller and broader sense to the term, "meek."
Contemplation #7
Psalms 34

1. I will bless the LORD at all times;
His praise shall continually be in my mouth.

2. My soul will make its boast in the LORD;
The humble will hear it and rejoice.

3. O magnify the LORD with me,
And let us exalt His name together.

4. I sought the LORD, and He answered me,
And delivered me from all my fears.

5. They looked to Him and were radiant,
And their faces will never be ashamed.

6. This poor man cried, and the LORD heard him
And saved him out of all his troubles.

7. The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear Him,
And rescues them.

8. O taste and see that the LORD is good;
How blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him!

9. O fear the LORD, you His saints;
For to those who fear Him there is no want.

Contemplation #8
St. John Chrysostom (347-407), Archbishop of Constantinople.
From Homily VI on Philippians

What then is humility? To be lowly minded. And he is lowly minded who humbles himself, not he who is lowly by necessity. To explain what I say; and do ye attend; he who is lowly minded, when he has it in his power to be high minded, is humble, but he who is so because he is not able to be high minded, is no longer humble. For instance, If a King subjects himself to his own officer, he is humble, for he descends from his high estate; but if an officer does so, he will not be lowly minded; for how? he has not humbled himself from any high estate. It is not possible to show humble-mindedness except it be in our power to do otherwise. For if it is necessary for us to be humble even against our will, that excellency comes not from the spirit or the will, but from necessity. This virtue is called humble-mindedness, because it is the humbling of the mind.

Contemplation #9
Meditate on the words of Jesus: "Learn of me, because I am meek, and humble of heart: and you shall find rest to your souls" (Matt., 11: 29).

Questions to open oneself to Jesus’ Words:
1. How do I ‘learn of Jesus’?
2. What does Jesus teach me?
3. How does this learning lead to rest?
Contemplation #4
This reading is taken from The Summa Theologica by Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274). In this work Aquinas responds to a series of questions. This is not easy to read, and you will need to move through his thoughts slowly and carefully to understand what he is saying. You may devote several days to this until you feel that you have mastered his teaching. We will take part of his answer to the following question:

Whether one ought, by humility, to subject oneself to all men?
We may consider two things in man, namely that which is God's, and that which is man's. Whatever pertains to defect is man's: but whatever pertains to man's welfare and perfection is God's, according to the saying of Hosea 13:9, "Destruction is thy own, O Israel; thy help is only in Me." Now humility, as stated above properly regards the reverence whereby man is subject to God. Wherefore every man, in respect of that which is his own, ought to subject himself to every neighbor, in respect of that which the latter has of God's: but humility does not require a man to subject what he has of God's to that which may seem to be God's in another. For those who have a share of God's gifts know that they have them, according to 1 Cor. 2:12: "That we may know the things that are given us from God." Wherefore without prejudice to humility they may set the gifts they have received from God above those that others appear to have received from Him; thus the Apostle says (Eph. 3:5): "(The mystery of Christ) was not known to the sons of men as it is now revealed to His holy apostles." In like manner. humility does not require a man to subject that which he has of his own to that which his neighbor has of man's: otherwise each one would have to esteem himself a greater sinner than anyone else: whereas the Apostle says without prejudice to humility (Gal. 2:15): "We by nature are Jews, and not of the Gentiles, sinners." Nevertheless a man may esteem his neighbor to have some good which he lacks himself, or himself to have some evil which another has not: by reason of which, he may subject himself to him with humility.

We must not only revere God in Himself, but also that which is His in each one, although not with the same measure of reverence as we revere God. Wherefore we should subject ourselves with humility to all our neighbors for God's sake, according to 1 Pt. 2:13, "Be ye subject . . . to every human creature for God's sake";

Contemplation #5
For this contemplation you ought to think about the following questions, and may add other questions you may have come upon. You may decide to take one question a day, or more if you choose.
1. How is pride manifest in my daily life of activities, my perception of myself in my opinion of myself, and in my relationships with others?
2. In what ways is God’s Spirit convicting me to abandon my pride and seek true humility?
3. How will humility be formed in me? By what means will God do this work?

Contemplation #6
There is one vice of which no man in the world is free; which every one in the world loathes when he sees it in someone else; and of which hardly any people, except Christians, ever imagine that they are guilty themselves. . . There is no fault which makes a man more unpopular, and no fault which we are more unconscious of in ourselves. And the more we have it ourselves, the more we dislike it in others.

The vice I am talking of is Pride or Self-Conceit: and the virtue opposite to it, in Christian morals, is called Humility . . . According to Christian teachers, the essential vice, the utmost evil, is Pride. Unchastity, anger, greed, drunkenness, and all that, are mere fleabites in comparison: it was through Pride that the devil became the devil: Pride leads to every other vice: it is the complete anti-God state of mind.
C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, book 3, chapter 8 – “The Great Sin.”
Contemplation #1
Letter 1 from Forty Spiritual Letters by François Fénelon 1651 - 1715.

The Advantages of Humility
I pray often to God that He would keep you in the hollow of his hand. And this He certainly will do if you remember to keep a humble and obedient spirit. Humility is good in every situation, because it produces that teachable spirit that makes everything easy. And you, of all people, would be more guilty than many others if you made any resistance to the Lord on this point. For on the one hand, the Lord has taught you so much on the necessity of becoming like a little child; and on the other, few people have had an experience more fitting to humiliate the heart and destroy self-confidence. The good that comes from any experience of personal weakness is the realization that God wants us to be lowly and obedient, So may the Lord keep you!

Contemplation #2
Chapter Two of Thomas A Kempis’ Imitation of Christ

EVERY man naturally desires knowledge; but what good is knowledge without fear of God? Indeed a humble rustic who serves God is better than a proud intellectual who neglects his soul to study the course of the stars. He who knows himself well becomes mean in his own eyes and is not happy when praised by men.
If I knew all things in the world and had not charity, what would it profit me before God Who will judge me by my deeds?
Shun too great a desire for knowledge, for in it there is much fretting and delusion. Intellectuals like to appear learned and to be called wise. Yet there are many things the knowledge of which does little or no good to the soul, and he who concerns himself about other things than those which lead to salvation is very unwise.
Many words do not satisfy the soul; but a good life eases the mind and a clean conscience inspires great trust in God.
The more you know and the better you understand, the more severely will you be judged, unless your life is also the more holy. Do not be proud, therefore, because of your learning or skill. Rather, fear because of the talent given you. If you think you know many things and understand them well enough, realize at the same time that there is much you do not know. Hence, do not affect wisdom, but admit your ignorance. Why prefer yourself to anyone else when many are more learned, more cultured than you?
If you wish to learn and appreciate something worth while, then love to be unknown and considered as nothing. Truly to know and despise self is the best and most perfect counsel. To think of oneself as nothing, and always to think well and highly of others is the best and most perfect wisdom. Wherefore, if you see another sin openly or commit a serious crime, do not consider yourself better, for you do not know how long you can remain in good estate. All men are frail, but you must admit that none is more frail than yourself.

Contemplation #3
Read the words of St. Paul in Philippians 2:5-11.

If you are still finding benefit in the previous contemplations, then set these aside until you are ready to reflect on them. As always, listen while you think about the words.

Introduction to Our Contemplations

I am glad that you have requested to be part of this spiritual exercise. Each week I will suggest some readings on a subject, but don’t expect us to be moving quickly. The process of inner formation cannot be rushed, and must be according to the Spirit’s rhythm.

Consider each reading one at a time, and spend the number of days that seem to be good to you, reading and opening yourself to hearing whatever thoughts the Spirit might bring through your mind.

Although I will send out a suggested contemplation each week, I haven’t given a time limit. Take these at your own pace. If you do all three before the week is finished, go back and spend time with them again. If you are not ready to move on after one week, then continue on with these three readings.

You may find yourself wanting to journal some thoughts, write a prayer, pray through the passage, or whatever. We need to get into a rhythm of meditation and each one find what that is right for him or her.