Saturday, June 23, 2012

Pride: or, Humility isn't Being Delusional

I finally got last Sunday's guest post ready:
Deacon Lawrence N. Kaas has been letting me post his reflections/homilies for some time now:
Last week's included one of the better explanations for what humility is: and why it makes sense.

I looked up the quote Deacon Kaas used. It's from Thomas Aquinas' "Contra Gentiles:"
"[23] However, it is the mark of humility to accept humiliations without hesitation; not in all cases, of course, but when it is necessary. For, since humility is a virtue, it does not work without discretion. So, it is not proper to humility, but to stupidity, for a man to accept every kind of humiliation, but what must be done for the sake of virtue a person does not reject because of humiliation. For example, if charity demands that some humiliating duty be performed for a neighbor, one will not refuse it through humility. Therefore, if it is necessary for the adoption of the perfection of the life of poverty that a man beg, then to suffer this humiliation is proper to humility. Sometimes, too, it is virtuous to accept humiliations even though our job does not require it, in order by our example to encourage others who have such a burden, so that they may bear it readily. For, a general may at times serve like an ordinary soldier, in order to spur on others. Sometimes, moreover, we use humiliations virtuously for their medicinal value. For instance, if a man’s mind is prone to undue pride, he may make beneficial use, in due moderation, of humiliations, either self-imposed or caused by others, in order to restrain this tendency to pride, provided that through bearing these things he puts himself on a level, as it were, with even the lowliest men who perform low-grade tasks. "
[emphasis mine]

"Ea vero quae abiectionis sunt sponte assumere, ad humilitatem pertinet: non quidem simpliciter, sed secundum quod necessarium est. Cum enim humilitas sit virtus, nihil indiscrete operatur. Non est igitur humilitatis, sed stultitiae, si quis quodcumque abiectum assumpserit: sed si id quod necessarium est fieri propter virtutem, aliquis propter abiectionem non recusat; puta si caritas, exigit quod proximis aliquod abiectum officium impendatur, hoc per humilitatem aliquis non recuset. Si igitur necessarium est ad perfectionem pauperis vitae sectandam quod aliquis mendicet, hanc abiectionem ferre humilitatis est. Quandoque etiam abiecta assumere virtutis est, etsi nostrum officium non requirat, ut alios nostro exemplo provocemus quibus incumbit, ut id facilius ferant: nam et dux interdum militis officio fungitur ut alios provocet. Quandoque etiam abiectis utimur secundum virtutem ut medicina quadam. Puta, si alicuius animus ad immoderatam extollentiam sit pronus, utiliter, debita moderatione servata, abiectis utitur, vel sponte vel ab aliis impositis, ad elationem animi comprimendam: dum per haec quae gerit, sibi ipsi quodammodo parificat etiam infimos homines, qui circa vilia officia occupantur." ("Contra Gentiles," Book Three: Providence, Chapter 135 [23], translated by Vernon J. Bourke. (Online at the Thomas Aquinas' Works in English, Joseph Kenny, O.P.)

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