Oblate Formation – Humility

  • 22979050971_0a2d46b25e_bWhat touches you or comes to mind when you hear the word Humility?
  • Would you like to be known as a humble person? Why or why not?

These were the two homework questions the sisters gave us in preparation for our next course.

The first person that comes to mind when I think of humility is Jesus. Philippians 2:1-11 expounds Jesus as to model of humility.

6 who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. 8 Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Philippians 2:6-8 NASB

The second person that comes to mind when I think of humility is Moses.

3 Now the man Moses was very humble, more than any man who was on the face of the earth. Numbers 12:3 NASB

2104791931_7b5632bd5b_oWith these two people as examples the two-fold definition of humility takes shape. Humility is both thinking of others before one’s self and having an accurate picture of one’s self. Humility is not self-deprecating or lacking in confidence, but its confidence is not self-promoting. C.S. Lewis put it this way, “True humility is not thinking less of yourself; it is thinking of yourself less.”

I happened to be reading Humility Matters by Sister Meg Funk, OSB and preparing Advent sermons as I did this homework, and found a third example of humility. Sister Meg lists four renunciations toward humility, and I found those steps in the life of Mary at the Annunciation.

  1. annunciationRenounce one’s former way of life. In Luke 1:29 Mary is perplexed (literally “destroyed”) by the angel’s greeting. She knows her former way of life is over.
  2. Renounce one’s thoughts of former way of life. In Luke 1:29 Mary kept pondering the words of the angel; she moves to changing her thoughts of her life.
  3. Renounce one’s self-made thoughts of God. In Luke 1:34 Mary asks, “How can this be?” She is realizing that she must adjust her expectations of God, His power, and plans.
  4. Renounce one’s thoughts of self. In Luke 1:38 Mary says to the angel, “Look at me. I am the Lord’s servant.” She now sees herself from God’s perspective.

So, certainly I would like to be known as a humble person. I’d be in terrific company!

I’m certainly finding oblate formation a humbling process. Although the homework is not difficult, incorporating the practice into everyday life is challenging. I’m awaiting my copy of The Divine Office for Dodos to arrive to help me better engage in praying the hours.

Funk, Mary Margaret, OSB. (2013). Humility Matters: toward purity of heart. Liturgical Press: Collegeville, MN.
Lewis, C.S. (2015 edition). Mere Christianity. HarperOne: New York, NY
photo credit: Humility via photopin (license)
photo credit: Headshot via photopin (license)
Tanner, Henry Ossawa. (1897). The Annunciation (Public Domain)

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