Fr. Thomas continues our series on What is one thing I have learned in the monastery? "As I celebrate seventy years of living in a monastery, the one thing I’ve selected comes from Saint Benedict’s Rule, Chapter 7 on Humility. Establishing himself on the Gospel of Luke 14:11 – persons who exalt themselves shall be humbled, and those who humble themselves shall be exalted – Benedict defines humility as the antithesis of pride, which he describes as self-exaltation.
Benedict’s proposes a vision one can have of oneself, a vision that rises from God working in one’s life and not a vision resting on one’s excellence and what that excellence produces. Humility is not meekness, it is not going about in a pious manner, and it is not saying, “I am no good”. Yes, it is a contempt for one’s own excellence, but not for one’s self, so as to allow God to do the work in one’s life.
How does God work in one’s life? Bernard of Clairvaux teaches that humility is born from the union of the Word of God with one’s mind. Humility is the presence of this Word in our mind (consciousness) working on us to give us the knowledge that we are not "our excellence," that we know what is lacking in us, and what the Word is doing in us. It is a willingness to allow God to work in us.
The Rule of St. Benedict takes this vision of humility and gives a 12 step ascesis of growth from a sense of our conscience before the ever-presence of God to a profound sense of God's presence in our consciousness as we live day in and day out!"