Interior Humility

The Better We Realise These the More We Shall Love Him


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On Sunday we will chat about interior humility.
We continue our series with Part III, Chapter 5: “Interior Humility” from An Introduction to the Devout Life. Here Saint Francis teaches us how to practice humility in the depths of our hearts.

To you however, my child, I would teach a deeper humility, for that of which I have been speaking is almost more truly to be called worldly wisdom than humility. There are some persons who dare not or will not think about the graces with which God has endowed them, fearing lest they should become self-complacent and vain-glorious; but they are quite wrong. For if, as the Angelic Doctor says, the real way of attaining to the Love of God is by a careful consideration of all His benefits given to us, then the better we realise these the more we shall love Him; and inasmuch as individual gifts are more acceptable than general gifts, so they ought to be more specially dwelt upon. Of a truth, nothing so tends to humble us before the Mercy 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. There is no fear that a perception of what He has given you will puff you up, so long as you keep steadily in mind that whatever is good in you is not of yourself. Do mules cease to be clumsy, stinking beasts because they are used to carry the dainty treasures and perfumes of a prince? “What hast thou that thou didst not receive? Now, if thou didst receive it, why dost thou glory as if thou hadst not received it?”On the contrary, a lively appreciation of the grace given to you should make you humble, for appreciation begets gratitude. But if, when realising the gifts God has given you, any vanity should beset you, the infallible remedy is to turn to the thought of all our ingratitude, imperfection, and weakness. Any one who will calmly consider what he has done without God, cannot fail to realise that what he does with God is no merit of his own; and so we may rejoice in that which is good in us, and take pleasure in the fact, but we shall give all the glory to God Alone, Who Alone is its Author.
It was in this spirit that the Blessed Virgin confessed that God had done “great things” to her;only that she might humble herself and exalt Him. “My soul doth magnify the Lord,” she said, by reason of the gifts He had given her.
We are very apt to speak of ourselves as nought, as weakness itself, as the offscouring of the earth; but we should be very much vexed to be taken at our word and generally considered what we call ourselves. On the contrary, we often make-believe to run away and hide ourselves, merely to be followed and sought out; we pretend to take the lowest place, with the full intention of being honourably called to come up higher. But true humility does not affect to be humble, and is not given to make a display in lowly words. It seeks not only to conceal other virtues, but above all it seeks and desires to conceal itself; and if it were lawful to tell lies, or feign or give scandal, humility would perhaps sometimes affect a cloak of pride in order to hide itself utterly. Take my advice, my child, and either use no professions of humility, or else use them with a real mind corresponding to your outward expressions; never cast down your eyes without humbling your heart; and do not pretend to wish to be last and least, unless you really and sincerely mean it. I would make this so general a rule as to have no exception; only courtesy sometimes requires us to put forward those who obviously would not put themselves forward, but this is not deceitful or mock humility; and so with respect to certain expressions of regard which do not seem strictly true, but which are not dishonest, because the speaker really intends to give honour and respect to him to whom they are addressed; and even though the actual words may be somewhat excessive, there is no harm in them if they are the ordinary forms of society, though truly I wish that all our expressions were as nearly as possible regulated by real heart feeling in all truthfulness and simplicity. A really humble man would rather that some one else called him worthless and good-for-nothing, than say so of himself; at all events, if such things are said, he does not contradict them, but acquiesces contentedly, for it is his own opinion. We meet people who tell us that they leave mental prayer to those who are more perfect, not feeling themselves worthy of it; that they dare not communicate frequently, because they do not feel fit to do so; that they fear to bring discredit on religion if they profess it, through their weakness and frailty; while others decline to use their talents in the service of God and their neighbour, because, forsooth, they know their weakness, and are afraid of becoming proud if they do any good thing,–lest while helping others they might destroy themselves. But all this is unreal, and not merely a spurious but a vicious humility, which tacitly and secretly condemns God’s gifts, and makes a pretext of lowliness while really exalting self-love, self-sufficiency, indolence, and evil tempers. “Ask thee a sign of the Lord thy God; ask it either in the depth or in the height above.” So spake the prophet to King Ahaz; but he answered, “I will not ask, neither will I tempt the Lord.” Unhappy man! he affects to show exceeding reverence to God, and under a pretence of humility refuses to seek the grace offered by the Divine Goodness. Could he not see that when God wills to grant us a favour, it is mere pride to reject it, that God’s gifts must needs be accepted, and that true humility lies in obedience and the most literal compliance with His Will! Well then, God’s Will is that we should be perfect, uniting ourselves to Him, and imitating Him to the utmost of our powers. The proud man who trusts in himself may well undertake nothing, but the humble man is all the braver that he knows his own helplessness, and his courage waxes in proportion to his low opinion of himself, because all his trust is in God, Who delights to show forth His Power in our weakness, His Mercy in our misery. The safest course is humbly and piously to venture upon whatever may be considered profitable for us by those who undertake our spiritual guidance.
Nothing can be more foolish than to fancy we know that of which we are really ignorant; to affect knowledge while conscious that we are ignorant is intolerable vanity. For my part, I would rather not put forward that which I really do know, while on the other hand neither would I affect ignorance. 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; therein reminding me of that tree in the Isles of Tylos,which closes its beautiful carnation blossoms at night, only opening them to the rising sun, so that the natives say they go to sleep. Just so humility hides our earthly virtues and perfections, only expanding them at the call of Charity, which is not an earthly, but a heavenly, not a mere moral, but a divine virtue; the true sun of all virtues, which should all be ruled by it, so that any humility which controverts charity is unquestionably false.
I would not affect either folly or wisdom; for just as humility deters me from pretending to be wise, so simplicity and straightforwardness deter me from pretending to be foolish; and just as vanity is opposed to humility, so all affectation and pretence are opposed to honesty and simplicity. If certain eminent servants of God have feigned folly in order to be despised by the world, we may marvel, but not imitate them; for they had special and extraordinary reasons for doing extraordinary things, and cannot be used as a rule for such as we are. When David danced more than was customary before the Ark of the Covenant, it was not with the intention of affecting folly, but simply as expressing the unbounded and extraordinary gladness of his heart. Michal his wife reproached him with his actions as folly, but he did not mind being “vile and base in his own sight,” but declared himself willing to be despised for God’s Sake. And so, if you should be despised for acts of genuine devotion, humility will enable you to rejoice in so blessed a contempt, the cause of which does not lie with you.

Questions to Ponder:

  1. St. Francis talks about rightly recognizing the gifts that God has given us as a way of honoring and glorifying God. He warns of what is called “pusillanimity,” a false humility that, like pride, also takes from the glory of God because it is essentially admitting that God cannot do good in us. Where in your life might you be acting on false humility instead of praising and thanking God for the good He does in and through you?
  2. Why do you think interior humility is so important, even more so than being seen as humble by other people?
  3. How can Mary’s statement in the Magnificat, “all generations will call me blessed,” be considered humble and not prideful?

Lay Association of St. Francis de Sales

Brochure here:

Chatting about Humility from the Introduction to the Devout Life

What is a good way to evaluate ourselves and even others for humility?
How do we receive honour with a pure heart?
What are your thoughts on the fact that the word humility has its root in a Latin word that means earth, or dirt?


Guest3173 (guest): Hi Everyone, it’s Judy. Hope you had a good week. Here is my contribution to tonight’s chat.

Oct 16 2016, 2:34 PM

Guest3173 (guest): What is a good way to evaluate ourselves and even others for humility? Look at ourselves in relationship to the Litany of Humility. Here are some of the intentions: from the desire of being esteemed, loved, extolled, honored, praised, preferred to others, consulted, approved; from the fear of being humiliated,despised, suffering rebuke, calumniated, forgotten, ridiculed, wronged, suspected.

Oct 16 2016, 2:36 PM

Guest3173 (guest): That others may be loved more than I, esteemed more than I, that others may increase and I may decreast, that others may be chosen and I set aside, that others may be praised and I go unnoticed, that others may be preferred to me in everything, that others become holier than I provided that I may become as holy as I should.

Oct 16 2016, 2:38 PM

Guest3173 (guest): How do we receive honor with a pure heart? By receiving it graciously, with gratitude and with the recognition that any good we may do is the work of God in and through us.

Oct 16 2016, 2:40 PM

Guest3173 (guest): What are your thoughts on the fact that the word humility has its root in a Latin word that means earth, or dirt? Humility in its earthiness gets to the nitty-gritty of who we really are, either virtuous or evil, with the emphasis on virtuous. Dirt emphasized our weaknesses, faults or sins. To be truly humble is to acknowledge that we have both.

Oct 16 2016, 2:42 PM

Guest3173 (guest): God’s blessings on all of you and may He lead you ever closer to Him.

VisitationSiste: Here’s a question- how does one stay humble in the midst of such a celebration? I’d say with gratitude

, 7:40 PM

Lisa C: With love for your family and friends….they share your joy 6, 7:40 PM

Dawn L: gratitude, then, is a way to stay grounded in humility


VisitationSiste: Yes I think so Dawn

Oct 16 2016, 7:41 PM

Ruth (guest): Yes GRATITUDE is a key grace/attitude of holiness.

:42 PM

VisitationSiste: I think it is easier to see another’s humility than one’s own :42 PM

Ruth (guest): Have you seen that litany before? I have, but I can’t say I pray it often. In fact, I am not even sure that it wouldn’t lead to depression or some other negative attitude.

Oct 16 2016, 7:42 PM

VisitationSiste: I did, somewhere


Oct 16 2016, 7:43 PM

VisitationSiste: O Jesus! meek and humble of heart, Hear me.From the desire of being esteemed,Deliver me, Jesus.From the desire of being loved…From the desire of being extolled …From the desire of being honored …From the desire of being praised …From the desire of being preferred to others…From the desire of being consulted …From the desire of being approved …From the fear of being humiliated …From the fear of being despised…From the fear of suffering rebukes …From the fear of being calumniated …From t

44 PM

Ruth (guest): Yes, we notice the humility of others, but I’m sort of surprised that the question even suggests evaluating someone else for humility. Shouldn’t we avoid judging others?

Oct 16 2016, 7:44 PM

VisitationSiste: Good question

6, 7:44 PM

Lisa C: We can look up to them as role models rather than judging them. 5 PM

Guest8923 (guest): At the birthday party last week little Will turned 7and it was a large gathering when he opened his cards and presents everyone was mesmerized by his humility . He was soo grateful for everything even the little things soo many children would overlook ! 5 PM

VisitationSiste: Both good examples!

Oct 16 2016, 7:46 PM

Ruth (guest): And if desired NOT to be esteemed, extolled, or praised, wouldn’t we deliberately botch up our work — even work we loved and did for its own sake — in order not to be praised?

Oct 16 2016, 7:46 PM

Guest8923 (guest): No he is my nephews son Will Dawn ! He has always been very special child !

Oct 16 2016, 7:47 PM

Carol Ann: I think what we have to avoid is this: these days the tendency is not to praise someone for being a good role model, but to point out all the areas where they are still lacking full knowledge of self

7:47 PM

Carol Ann: Ruth, yes, this is true 2016, 7:48 PM

Dawn L: children have much to teach us! I find, anyways 7:49 PM

VisitationSiste: So Carol Anne, we look at things pyschologically rather than spirtuallly? 7:49 PM

Ruth (guest): That’s wonderful, Brian. I note, though, that poor kids, especially those in the third world, are delighted with little things that children who already have too much would pass over or even snear at.

Oct 16 2016, 7:50 PM

Carol Ann: Yes, I see that tendency all the time. We have bern inundated with pop psychology and we run around analyzing everyone but ourselves. Well, some of us analyze ourselves

Oct 16 2016, 7:50 PM

Guest8923 (guest): When we encounter people who truly are humble it really leaves you speechless and you feel the presence of God in an extroidinary way!

52 PM

Carol Ann: SR, I am not sure if people really know the spiritual definition of humility. How would you define it?

Oct 16 2016, 7:53 PM

Ruth (guest): When I was doing my “Experiment in Faith” (ages 11 or 12 – 15) I read THE IMITATION OF CHRIST (Thomas a KeMmpis) every night, trying to live as I thought a Christian would live. I remember it troubling me; I was in a public school and had not told anyone about my “experiement” “in order not to prejudice the results.

, 7:54 PM

Guest8923 (guest): I agree Ruth I remember our trip outside Hanoi seeing the joy on the children who just had a simple ball to play with in a very poor area!!!

Oct 16 2016, 7:54 PM

VisitationSiste: We always talk about it as truth

Oct 16 2016, 7:54 PM

Lisa C: humility to me means being like Blessed Mother



Guest8923 (guest): Amen Lisa !

Oct 16 2016, 7:55 PM

VisitationSiste: Great!

Oct 16 2016, 7:56 PM

Lisa C: She is the perfect example

Oct 16 2016, 7:56 PM

VisitationSiste: Blessed Mother certainly receives honor with a pure heart!

6, 7:56 PM

Lisa C: Jesus is humble too, but He is God, so there is something magnificent about Him even with His humility :57 PM

Lisa C: Jesus seems very strong in spite of His humility

Oct 16 2016, 7:57 PM

Carol Ann: How does that give us inight into our unique struggles though? Mary is the highly favored, truly humble person who lived her life entirely for God. How do we who sin achieve this?

Oct 16 2016, 7:57 PM

Lisa C: Not that Mary is weak

Oct 16 2016, 7:58 PM

Dawn L: even if we have not obtained pure humility, we can recognize it in others. this is a beginning I think

Oct 16 2016, 7:58 PM

Guest8923 (guest): I don’t think that we can even comprehend the level of humility that Mary displayed to us in her lifetime !


Lisa C: Carol Ann, even Blesses Mother is “full of grace”, she does it by what God gave her. We can pray for grace to be more humble. No one does anything good without the help of God. 00 PM

Dawn L: yes, Lisa, was just thinking this. we can desire but it is God who gives the grace. Grace first.

Oct 16 2016, 8:00 PM

Lisa C: It is not that we do not apply our will, but we need to unite our will with God’s will

5 online

8:02 PM

VisitationSiste: So we ask ask Blessed Mother to help us grow in humility

5 online

3 PM

VisitationSiste: What is false humility- is it low self esteem do you think


Carol Ann: It can be though many with low self esteem are clinically depressed and not 100% in charge


Ruth (guest): Sorry, I had internet connectivity problems for about 10-15 minutes.

Oct 16 2016, 8:06 PM

Carol Ann: Hi Amy

Oct 16 2016, 8:06 PM

Dawn L: glad you are back ruth

Oct 16 2016, 8:07 PM

Guest8923 (guest): False humility would be any form of pride which can display itself in many forms always separate from God


Ruth (guest): You heard about the monk who was given a medal for his humility? Next day it was taken away from him because he wore it!

Oct 16 2016, 8:09 PM

VisitationSiste: Haha

:09 PM

Ruth (guest): I think Pope Francis displays great humility.

Oct 16 2016, 8:10 PM

Ruth (guest): He asked all the people to pray for him.

Oct 16 2016, 8:10 PM

VisitationSiste: What about the root of the word humility


Guest8923 (guest): That’s a good one Ruth !

Oct 16 2016, 8:10 PM

Dawn L: Mother, earlier you wrote “we look at things pyschologically rather than spirtuallly? I am pondering this

Oct 16 2016, 8:10 PM

Lisa C: sign

Oct 16 2016, 8:10 PM

Lisa C: sigh

Oct 16 2016, 8:11 PM

Ruth (guest): When interviewed he was asked “Who is Gregio B ?” He stopped a moment, then said, “He is a sinner on whom God has had mercy.

, 8:11 PM

Lisa C: Maybe it is false humility 8:12 PM

Carol Ann:

Humility | Define Humility at

Oct 16 2016, 8:12 PM

Guest8923 (guest): It also takes humility to speak up for the Lord when nobody else will !

3 PM

Ruth (guest): We have a saying, “Down to Earth” Humility, involves having both feet on the ground. Being grounded. We are grounded when we know who we are and where we stand. 2 PM

Guest8923 (guest): It also takes humility to speak up for the Lord when nobody else will !

Oct 16 2016, 8:13 PM

Ruth (guest): We have a saying, “Down to Earth” Humility, involves having both feet on the ground. Being grounded. We are grounded when we know who we are and where we stand.

Oct 16 2016, 8:13 PM

Lisa C: It is not humility when you ignore doctrine and ignore a synod of Bishops

Oct 16 2016, 8:13 PM

Ruth (guest): I do not think there can be any real conflict between true psychology and true spirituality.


Carol Ann: There shouldn’t be, Ruth, but many will favor one approach over the other

Oct 16 2016, 8:15 PM

Lisa C: It is not humility when I point that out, but it feels like I cannot keep quiet about what is true

Oct 16 2016, 8:15 PM

Guest8923 (guest): I think true humility also displays a need to always be learning !

6 PM

Ruth (guest): I had written — while disconnected from the internet — about struggling with his and with the reactions of my classmates when I tried to practice “Imitation of Christ” humility — which I was doing to “show God” that I was serious about wanting to know the TRUTH about Him, Jesus, the Church and even humility.

Oct 16 2016, 8:17 PM

Guest8923 (guest): If we dont speak out we cannot learn from one anoth


Ruth (guest): No one but God and I (and I wasn’t sure about God) knew about my “experiment.” I did not want to prejudice the results.

Oct 16 2016, 8:17 PM

Dawn L: Lisa, what is the Scripture St Paul speaks of boasting only in Christ?

, 8:18 PM

Ruth (guest): Anyway, over time I came to see HUMILITY as being face-to-face with the TRUTH about ourselves, especially ourselves in relation to others — other humans and God. 16, 8:19 PM

Lisa C: 2 Corinthians 11:30

Oct 16 2016, 8:20 PM

Lisa C: 30 If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness

1 PM

Guest8923 (guest): Childlike Love of God and others = Humility

Oct 16 2016, 8:22 PM

Ruth (guest): All the saints were humble. Truly humble. But that doesn’t mean they had low self-esteem. Often they had to show great courage. They just saw their faults. And they saw God’s magnificence. They saw the good in others, too. The more they came to know the greatness of God, and his Mercy, the more they knew how much they depended on him for EVERYTHING good that they did in the world.

Oct 16 2016, 8:22 PM

VisitationSiste: Yes again back to children- the humility of their simplicity


Ruth (guest): So many children lose that simplicity so quickly! But yesterday I had the joy of meeting little Mia, four years old. The granddaughter of a friend at Our Lady of the Adirondacks House of Prayer. 5 PM

Ruth (guest): So much joy!

Oct 16 2016, 8:26 PM

VisitationSiste: Lastweek I’d suggested we look for instances of trying to be patient during the week but I forgot to follow up tonite. It is even harder to do this with humility

7 PM

Lisa C: It might be easier with humility

Oct 16 2016, 8:27 PM

Guest8923 (guest): I worked with someone who displayed unparalleled Humilty she was always serving others never to be seen but constantly making a difference in people’s lives ! The whole community was impacted by that level of Love and Humility!

Oct 16 2016, 8:27 PM

Carol Ann: Acknowledging that I am the one who is impatient and the other person is just fine

0 PM

Dawn L: The two key virtues and I think they go together?

Oct 16 2016, 8:30 PM

Ruth (guest): Mia had a picture of Jesus in her hand. Spoke about his love. Sat in her grandmother’s embrace all similes, and listened as her grandmother and others prayed for me, and for others one-by-one with laying on of hands. With a word from Grandma, Mia jumped up to fetch tissues to wipe away tears of deep movement of the Spirit and with a broad smile, handed them over.

Oct 16 2016, 8:31 PM

Ruth (guest): Humility and patience? Dawn.

34 PM

VisitationSiste: Can you imagine an impatient person that is exercising humility?

Oct 16 2016, 8:34 PM

Dawn L: A lovely story, Ruth

Oct 16 2016, 8:34 PM

Carol Ann: No

Oct 16 2016, 8:35 PM

Lisa C: Please pray for our country and the election. Now it seems the Dems are trying to infiltrate the Catholic Church to change things to fit their agenda.

Oct 16 2016, 8:35 PM

Lisa C: They also expressed disdain for Catholics and Evangelicals.

Oct 16 2016, 8:36 PM

Ruth (guest): It would be a little like demanding, God give me patience, and give it to me right now!

Oct 16 2016, 8:36 PM

VisitationSiste: This is a very difficult year and all of us must pray and sacrifice. I do need to leave now . Next Sun I can’t be here I will be in DC Can you run the chat without me

Oct 16 2016, 8:36 PM

VisitationSiste: and save it?