A modern examination of conscience. (But not too modern… we’re loyal to the teachings of the Catholic Church here!)
Many who are first will be last, and the last will be first. Matthew 19:30
Humility: First, say to yourself, “I’m such a terrible person. I can’t do anything right.” Now pick the most gruesome public mortification you can think of. Go stand on the street corner and let the world know how awful you are. Bingo. Right?
We often misunderstand humility as thinking poorly of ourselves. But that can be pretentious, and we can even use it to get attention.
Humility involves a great deal of honesty. It gives us the ability to see ourselves for who we are, with all our strengths and weaknesses. And especially…
to see who God sees when He looks at us.
Humility helps us love God above all because He’s all-powerful and He created us. It helps us love ourselves because God loves us.
He didn’t have to create us. But He did.
Just so He can love us.
Humility helps us love our neighbor, because God created us to live in relationships and serve each other.
Humility is the virtue that leads us to an ordered love of self. It helps us recognize our dependence on God and the dignity of others.
Pride is the vice that attacks our humility. Pride is not love of self, but an unhealthy love of self. It’s when we love ourselves so much that we’re willing to hurt God and others to get what we want.
This month, let’s kick pride and restore a healthy love of self: humility.
How to Practice Humility
Learn and Pray About Humility:
- Learn about humility.
Make a special effort to read about what humility really is. This post is a good place to start. You may also want to check out Catholic Education Resource Center. Or if you feel ambitious, pick up a copy of Humility Of Heart.”
- Ask God for help.
I like to think I can do things by myself. But I can’t. I can’t even stay in existence without God’s help. It’s time to let Him in. Remember to ask for God’s help throughout the day. No task is too big (or too small) for Him.
- Ask others for help.
God is a Trinity. He made us to live in relationships. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Ask your kids to clean up their own toys. Ask your husband to take out the trash. Ask your friend to bring a side dish when she comes over for dinner. You don’t have to be perfect. Give others a chance to help out when you need it.
Put God First:
- Let God run your life.
To-do lists and plans are good, but things never go exactly the way we want. Heck, God made this world and things don’t always turn out the way He wants. Take a lesson from God. Don’t pout. Don’t quit. Take a deep breath and trust God to bring good out of every situation.
- Be Christ to others.
Sometimes we forget to step in someone else’s shoes. That old lady at the grocery store, she may not have meant any insult when she asked, “Are they all yours?” Instead of jumping down her throat, offer a smile and assume best intentions (at the grocery store, and all the time). Treat her the way you think Jesus would treat her.
- Pray to God for His will to be done.
I get so caught up in all my petitionary prayers, I forget to pray for what God wants. I tell my kids: If you ask for something bad for you, I won’t let you have it. Neither would God, as a loving Father. Let’s remember to ask Him to give us only what’s best for us in life.
Develop a Healthy Love of Self:
- Praise yourself.
Remember, humility does not mean poo-pooing yourself. It means loving yourself for who you are because God loves you. Look in the mirror and tell yourself: “You are fearfully and wonderfully made.” Celebrate the small successes throughout the day. Thank God for you!
- Accept your good qualities.
Sometimes we’re tempted to brush off compliments in an attempt to be humble. But when we disregard someone’s opinion, we hurt their feelings. Instead of shutting down compliments and denying your good qualities, accept them graciously. “Thank you, this is my award-winning lasagna recipe. God blessed me with a talent for cooking.”
- Build others up.
Help others see themselves the way God sees them. Let a friend know how much you value her friendship. Tell your kids God made them and loves them. Praise their efforts to help sweep the floor (even though you’ll have to redo it later).
- Remember Only God is perfect.
Do you expect yourself to be perfect? Are you God? No. So you’re going to fall sometimes. God forgives you. Don’t try to act better than God, who already forgave you. Let it go. Forgive yourself.
- Forgive Others.
Jesus died for everyone. Even that guy who pulls into the parking spot you’re going for. When we hold a grudge, we pretend we’re better than God. Remember, we pray every day: “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” Let’s forgive freely! Offer the extra steps you have to walk for “that guy’s” salvation.
How to Avoid Pride
Learn and Pray About Pride:
- Learn About Pride.
Pride is unhealthy love of self. Reflect on ways you go overboard loving yourself. Do you always have to be the best? Do you have to do everything perfectly? Do you clean your house for weeks before having guests? Be aware of your shortcomings.
- Pray to destroy pride.
We will be working all month to root out pride and replace it with humility. But we can’t do it all by ourselves. Pray every day for God to give you the grace you need.
Don’t Pretend to be God:
- Don’t insist on being right.
You don’t know everything. So let your opinions stay opinions. Don’t expect everyone to agree with you, and don’t attack them if they don’t.
- Don’t reject Jesus’ Church.
I’m talking about the whole Catholic Church, here. Don’t reject it in big ways, like leaving the Church or speaking publicly against it. Don’t reject its teachings on marriage, abortion, human dignity – which seems so popular to do. Don’t reject its leadership. Don’t attack the pope, or complain about priests. God is guiding the Church, not you. Your job is to pray for her. Do it.
- Starting with yourself.
Don’t put yourself down. God made you and said “It is good.” Acknowledge this goodness. And besides, self-belittling is often a veiled request for flattery. Uh-oh! I’m guilty of this one. I’ve definitely made negative comments about myself just hoping someone would contradict it.
- No put-downs for others, either.
Even if they do something wrong. God is so forgiving, he can get past any fault. Are we somehow better than him? Do we have the right to hold others to a higher standard? We need to build each other up, not tear each other down. No gossip. No slander. No name-calling.
- Don’t compare.
Comparing can only do two things. We either feel better than the other person, or feel lousy about ourselves. Our focus should never be “How do I measure up to others.” But rather: “How do I measure up before God?”
- Don’t judge others.
God gives different people different graces. Only He can judge how well they have responded to Him. Pray for others, but don’t judge them (lest you be judged). Admonish the sinner, but don’t condemn him.
- Don’t judge yourself either.
This race is not over. Run so as to win. At the end of our lives, God will be the only judge. The good news: we can all be winners!
Take the Challenge
Are you ready to grow in humility? Let’s get started! Here’s what you need to do:
- Prepare. If you haven’t already, read the humility post carefully and reflect on what it means in your life. Print out your materials and place them in convenient places in your home. Join the Virtue Challenge Team on Facebook.
- Every morning, start the day with prayer (find it on your Nightstand Guide).
- Throughout the day, use your Fridge Guide to help integrate humility and eliminate pride. Your Fridge Guide has reminders and some bonus extras (like an indulgenced prayer – woot!).
- Every evening, pray the nightly Examen (find it on your Nightstand Guide). This is a step-by-step review of your day, including praying for forgiveness, and resolving to do better tomorrow.
- Before confession (or weekly at least), prayerfully read the Examination of Conscience. Reflect, not only on your sins and failings, but also on how God has blessed you with growth in virtue!
This Virtue Challenge is going to change your life! I pray God gives each of you (and me too, I need this) the grace you need to grow in humility, to avoid the sin of pride, and to become the saint He’s calling you to be.
Take the Humility Virtue Challenge now! Grab some cardstock, print your printables, and get ready for a grace-filled, growth-filled month.
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Created in conjunction with Momsters Raising Monsters