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Monday, August 28, 2017

“…for he has regarded the humility of his handmaiden. For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed.” (Lk 1: 48, The “Song” of the Theotokos, Песнь Богородицы)

Is this a “humble” statement, I mean, the part about “henceforth all generations will call me blessed”? Of course it is, because the Mother of God said it. But I think, mainly because of our misconceptions of “humility,” were anyone else to make mention of their fame, let alone anticipate their future fame, “henceforth,” in “all generations,” we would probably find such words “not humble,” at the very least.

“Humility,” however, does not mean being blind to our gifts or blessings, but rather seeing them in the proper light, and that is, as given by God, and with heartfelt gratitude to Him. In fact, taking an honest look...

Thursday, July 20, 2017

It is good for me (Ἀγαθόν μοι, Благо мне), that you have humbled me (ὅτι ἐταπείνωσάς με, яко смирил мя еси), that I may learn your statutes.” (Ps 118: 71, Septuagint-translation)

It does me “good,” when God “humbles” me. But what does that mean? What does it mean to be “humbled,” and what kind of “good” does it bring? “Humility,” first of all, is one of the many gifts of the Holy Spirit. As such, it doesn’t come from “me,” nor can I muster it up or fake it. God, often unexpectedly, showers it upon us, both through our unexpected ups and our unexpected downs. Humility stops us in our tracks, making us take pause and slow down, reminding us of Someone Greater, and ever more powerful, than ourselves. It can be equally “humbling” to receive some unexpected good news, for example, that a loved...

Monday, March 13, 2017

But grant unto me, Your servant, a spirit of chastity (σωφροσύνης, whole-mindedness, цело-мудрия), humility (ταπεινοφροσύνης, humble-mindedness, смиренно-мудрия), patience and love.” (Lenten Prayer of St. Ephrem, part 2)

Humility is an elusive kind of thing, hard to define. It is also easy to mistake some “humility-counterfeit” for actual humility. For example, I might imagine I am being “humble,” while actually escaping responsibility, according to my vocation, or donning a mask I have concocted, just not to be who I am called to be in my God-given place, time, and identity. As G. K. Chesterton famously noted, “What we suffer from today is humility in the wrong place. Modesty has moved from the organ of ambition and settled upon the organ of conviction, where it was never meant to be. A m...

Friday, July 29, 2016

And you shall remember all the way which the Lord your God has led you… And he humbled you and let you hunger and fed you with manna, which you did not know, nor did your fathers know; that he might make you know that man does not live by bread alone, but that man lives by everything that proceeds out of the mouth of the Lord.” (Deut 8: 2-4)

Just as He did back then, with His people for forty years in the wilderness, so does God “humble” those who belong to Him today. How does He do this? He periodically “lets you hunger,” and feeds you in ways “which you did not know” before. Thus God opens me up to the gift called “humility,” this road to true freedom, by walking me through the way of the cross. Humility enables me to walk as He did, through the pain and problems, rather than running fro...

Monday, July 11, 2016

I feel a divine jealousy for you, for I promised you in marriage to one husband, to present you as a chaste virgin to Christ. But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by its cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ. For if someone comes and proclaims another Jesus than the one we proclaimed, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or a different gospel from the one you accepted, you submit to it readily enough... For you put up with it when someone makes slaves of you, or preys upon you, or takes advantage of you, or puts on airs, or gives you a slap in the face. To my shame, I must say, we were too weak for that!“ (2 Cor 11: 2-4, 20-21)

How humbly vulnerable, how honest, is St. Paul, proclaiming his love, and even...

Friday, June 17, 2016

For there must be also divisions among you, that they which are approved may be made manifest among you.” (1 Cor 11: 19)

Just yesterday I mentioned this passage to an Orthodox clergyman, one who has been working tirelessly for church-unity, and specifically for the preparations for the Holy and Great Council. I tend to think of him as one of those “which are approved.” But when I mentioned this passage to him, the clergyman unexpectedly replied, “the 1 Corinthians passage makes me realize how abysmally I have failed.” And when I asked, Why?, he said, “because I’ve been thinking: I haven’t always focused on the goal...”

Humility! How refreshing and liberating it is, not to play the “blame game,” or point fingers at others, as we bear our common cross of disunity and other human failings. Tod...

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