Quotes on Humility

"True humility consists in not presuming on our own strength, but in trusting to obtain all things from the power of God."

St. Thomas Aquinas as quoted in Sermon in a Sentence, Volume 5

"...we are only instruments in the Lord's hands; and this knowledge frees us from the presumption of thinking that we alone are personally responsible for building a better world. In all humility we will do what we can, and in all humility we will entrust the rest to the Lord."

 Pope Benedict XVI, Deus Caritas Est (Encyclical on Love)

“We cannot do great things on this Earth, only small things with great love.” 

Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta

"Pride is a weakness in the character; it dries up laughter, it drives up wonder, it dries up chivalry and energy."

G.K. Chesterton, Heretics

"Wise men learn more from fools than fools from the wise."

Cato the Elder

"Indeed, the Architect of Love has built the door into heaven so low that no one but a small child can pass through it, unless, to get down to a child's little height, he goes in on his knees.

Caryll Houselander, The Reed of God

"Of all the signs of a man's knowledge and wisdom, none is proof of greater wisdom than that he does not cling to his own opinion... For those who cling to their own judgment so as to mistrust others and trust in themselves alone invariably prove themselves fools and are judged as such."

St. Thomas Aquinas as quoted in Sermon in a Sentence, Volume 5

"The humble person is open to being corrected, whereas the arrogant is clearly closed to it. Proud people are supremely confident in their own opinions and insights. No one can admonish them successfully: not a peer, not a local superior, not even the pope himself. They know - and that is the end of the matter. Filled as they are with their own views, the arrogant lack the capacity to see another view.

The humble listen to their brothers and sisters because they assume they have something to learn. They are open to correction, and they become wiser through it.

It is a chilling experience to meet face to face with a person so supremely sure of his inner light and his interpretation of the Bible that he rejects not only what you say but also what exegetes and theologians and saints say."

Fr. Thomas Dubay, Authenticity

 On Docility...

The word means, of course, a capacity to learn, to be taught by another. Yet in recent years the idea came upon hard days, for it spoke to many of a passivity, a weakness, a refusal to think for oneself. But then on the scene came a new label: openness, listening. Now openness and listening to others mean nothing if they do not mean exactly what docility means: willingness to be informed, instructed, changed by what another says.

A man in trouble laments that he did not listen to his teachers, and thus he finds himself in a sad state, utter ruin. A candid admission of a blunder is refreshing and not often heard in human affairs. It is the saint alone who is large-minded enough to think and speak in this way. This is part of his authenticity.

The person who is swift to hear and slow to respond is a stranger to an all-knowing illuminism. He believes that others, too, have some truth, and he is willing to be instructed by them. He is ready for the mind of God.

We are to welcome instruction, yes. But this is not enough. We are to welcome correction as well, being told that we are wrong. This is living the virtue of docility.

As the word indicates, docility is the capacity to learn, a willingness to be taught. One is docile when he recognizes his own lack of information and expertise, on the one hand, and the superior knowledge and skills of his teacher, on the other. In this context a synonym more acceptable to modern ears is receptivity.

There are two types of receptivity: one toward the indwelling Spirit and the other toward human teachers. Like other moral virtues, docility lies in a mean between two extremes. One extreme is the more or less arrogant refusal to accept the thoughts of another. The other is an exaggerated credulity that has lost a sense of proper discrimination and healthy criticism.

Fr. Thomas Dubay, Authenticity

Q. "Whoever can be as small as this child", it says in the New Testament in Matthew, "is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven."

A. The theology of littleness is a basic category of Christianity. After all, the tenor of our faith is that God's distinctive greatness is revealed precisely in powerlessness. That in the long run, the strength of history is precisely in those who love, which is to say, in a strength that, properly speaking, cannot be measured according to categories of power. So in order to show who he is, God consciously revealed himself in the powerlessness of Nazareth and Golgotha. Thus, it is not the one who can destroy the most who is the most powerful...but, on the contrary, the least power of love is already greater than the greatest power of destruction.

Pope Benedict XVI, Salt of the Earth

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