Humility and Confidence
by Fr. Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen O.C.D.
Christian humility does not lower, it elevates; it does
not cast down, but gives courage, for the more it
reveals to the soul its nothingness and abjection, the
more it moves it toward God with confidence and
abandonment. The very fact that in everything, we depend
on Him, and that we can do nothing without Him, shows us
that God wants to sustain us continually by His help and
His grace. Consequently, the relations of a humble soul
with God, will be those of a child who confidently
expects everything from its father. This is the lesson
that Jesus wished to give His Apostles when they asked
Him who would be the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven:
"Unless you be converted and become as little children,
you shall not enter into the Kingdom of Heaven.
Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little
child, he is the greater in the Kingdom of Heaven"
(Matt. 18:3-4). "To remain little", explains St. Therese
of the Child Jesus, "is to acknowledge one's nothingness
and to expect everything from the good God, as the child
expects everything from its father".
God does not introduce a soul to a higher spiritual
life, nor admit it to deeper intimacy with Himself, as
long as it is not completely despoiled of all confidence
in itself. When a soul practically forgets its
nothingness, and still relies on its own strength,
knowledge, initiative, or virtues - be it ever so little
- God leaves it to itself. The failures which follow,
the falls, the fruitlessness of its works - all reveal
its insufficiency; and the more a soul insists upon
trusting in itself, so much the more will the Lord
prolong this experience of its nothingness.
In speaking of her definite, total conversion, St.
Teresa of Jesus confesses that what prevented her from
overcoming the last obstacles was really a remnant of
confidence which she still had in herself. "I must have
failed to put my whole confidence in His Majesty and to
have a complete distrust of myself." (The Life of Teresa
of Jesus, Chapter 8).
Confidence in God increases in proportion to our
mistrust of ourselves; it becomes total when the soul,
having acquired a thorough comprehension of its
nothingness, has lost all faith in its own resources.
The soul then realises the truth of Jesus' words: "When
you shall have done all these things that are commanded
you, say: We are unprofitable servants" (Luke 17:10).
Even if the soul has had much experience in the interior
life, in prayer and in virtue, it knows that it cannot
rely on its own strength at all. It realises that even
if it has worked for the glory of God, it cannot depend
on its own works; hence it will rely wholly and solely
on God's mercy and grace. All its confidence rests on
the infinite merits of Jesus, on the merciful love of
the heavenly Father and on the workings of grace; and
this confidence makes it more courageous, more daring
than ever, because it knows that with God it can do
"What pleases Jesus", says the Saint of Lisieux, "is to
see me love my littleness and poverty, the blind hope
that I have in His mercy. This is my only treasure".