• 15:35
  • Sunday ,04 September 2011

Life of humbleness & meekness (9)

Pope Shenouda Article


Sunday ,04 September 2011

Life of humbleness & meekness (9)

 We have already explained in detail thirty-two points, and here we give some more points on the same subject:

1. The spiritual humbleness of a person appears in the movements of the body.
Humbleness appears in one's countenance, one's calm and gentle voice, and one's meek looks. The humble does not look down on the others, nor speaks as one with authority, sharply, haughtily or loudly. The humble does not utter disdainful words or degrades anybody by negligence. The humble walks and sits gently and modestly, without haughtiness or elevation, with modest clothes, luggage and belongings, not luxurious, or revealing a high standard of living. The language of the humble reveals him, for he does not boast of or takes pride in what he does, nor holds comparisons between himself and the others to show that he surpasses them or has more knowledge than them.   
2. The way of worshipping and prayers reveals the humbleness of a person.
The humble worships with awe, as David the Prophet said, "But as for me, I will come into Your house in the multitude of Your mercy; in fear of You I will worship toward Your holy temple." (Ps 5: 7) The humble stands in prayer with due respect, meet for being in the presence of God, for even the Cherubim and Seraphim stand in awe before God, each with two wings covering his face, and with two covering his feet (Isa 6: 2).
The humble keeps well his senses and is not distracted with anything during prayer, nor presses forward in the Holy Mass to receive the Holy Communion before the others, but proceeds as one who is undeserving.
The humble stands when he ought to stand, and while blessing the food at home. He never prays while sitting, but on every occasion he prays with awe and respect.
Likewise, when fasting the humble fasts in awe, being aware that fasting is a period of humiliating oneself before God. We remember here the fasting of the people of Nineveh, for they proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest to the least of them, and when the king of Nineveh knew he arose from his throne and laid aside his robe, covered himself with sackcloth and sat in ashes (Jon 3: 5, 6).
3. The humble admits hi sins as soon as he becomes aware of them.
It is so hard for a haughty person to confess his sins, for he feels in this degradation of his esteem and dignity in the sight of the others. The humble, on the contrary, never attempts to justify or excuse himself, nor conceals his sins, but is always ready to say 'I have sinned' within himself and before God, being completely convinced that he is not infallible . 
The humble is not righteous in his own eyes (Job 32: 1). He is far from self-righteousness, for he knows his own sins more than the others know them. 
4. Life of true repentance and accompanying virtues are a good helper to attain humbleness.
A repentant is always aware of his heavy sins, for his sins are always before his eyes (Ps 51). He continually remembers them with humility within himself and before God, feeling that he is unworthy. He blames and rebukes himself continually for his weaknesses and shortcomings, seeking the prayers and blessing of everybody. Feeling ashamed within makes his conduct humble and far from pride.
The more a person lacks the feelings and fervency of repentance the more he becomes in danger of losing his humbleness. Therefore blessed is the person who lives continually in repentance, not considering it a mere stage that passed away, for everyday one sins, as St. John the Apostle says, " If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us." (1 Jn 1: 8) 
5. Among the means of humbleness are keeping silent and not pretending to have knowledge.
The humble is aware that in the multitude of words sin is not lacking (Prov 10: 19). So he says, 'Suffice me my previous sins!' and says with St. Arsanius, 'How often did I speak and regretted!' That is why the humble prefers to keep silent, seeing that listening is better than speaking. In listening he gains knowledge, whereas in speaking he exposes himself to sinning. He repeats to himself the words of Moses the Prophet, "I am not eloquent, neither before nor since You have spoken to Your servant." (Ex 4: 10)
The humble remembers the story of St. Anthony when he asked his disciples about the explanation of a certain verse, so each of them gave a certain explanation, except Abba Youssef who said, 'I do not know!' St. Anthony therefore said to him, 'Blessed are you, Abba Youssef, because you knew the way to the words: I do not know.'
While the humble sits in silence and dignity, gaining the respect of everybody, the proud interferes in every talk even if the subject is not within the scope of his specialization! The proud answers every question whether with knowledge or without, whereas the humble if there is need, speaks quietly about what he really knows. He does not hesitate to say 'I do not know' or to say, 'I will try to study this subject more.' 
6. The humble feels in need for the help of the saints.
In many things the humble does not rely on his own prayers, but seeks the intercession of the Holy Virgin or the prayers of the holy angels, or even the spirits of the martyrs and saints that they may support him in his struggle and intercede for him and his household before God. He says to the Lord the Hours Prayers "Agpeya", "Surround us, O Lord, with Your holy angels, that we may be with their protected and guided."
His heart is never elevated, or feels no need for the intercession of any of those, thinking he has direct relationship with God and he needs not seek the intercession for the Virgin for instance, or St. George or Archangel Michael. He remembers the words of St. Peter the Apostle in the evening of the Last Supper, when he asked St. John the Beloved who was younger in age than him to ask the Lord who was the disciple who was going to betray Him, and St. John responded and asked the Lord (Jn 13: 23- 25).
The humble even seeks the prayers of everybody. St. Paul the Apostle asked the prayers of his congregation in Ephesus, to pray for him with all prayer and supplication that he might be given utterance when he opens his mouth to make known the mystery of the gospel (Eph 6: 18, 19)
7. The humble does not seek to be a visionary or a worker of miracles and wonders.
He does not even desire it, knowing his weakness and low spiritual level. Even great saints feared it, lest they be fought with pride and vainglory, recalling the words of the Lord to His disciples in this concern, "Do not rejoice in this …" (Lk 10: 20) The humble remembers that many of those who had done many wonders and miracles did not enter the Kingdom of Heaven, and the Lord said to them, "I never knew you." (Mt 7: 22, 23)
The humble therefore struggles to attain the fruit of the Spirit (Gal 5: 22, 23), rather than the gifts of the Spirit (1 Cor 12). On the other hand, those who like to see visions and apparitions easily fall in the deceit of the devils, for Satan works with all power, signs, and lying wonders, and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish (2 Thess 2: 9, 10). In the last days he will assist the anti-Christ "who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God" (2 Thess 2: 4) Satan himself can transform himself into an angel of light (2 Cor 11: 14), and in this way deceitfully pleases those who like to see visions, and leads them to perdition.
Here I would like to mention the story of that monk to whom the devil appeared in the form of an angel, saying to him, 'I am Angel Gabriel. God sent me to you!' The monk, in humbleness, said to him, 'Maybe God has sent you to someone else and you took the wrong way. As for me, I am a sinner who does not deserve to see an angel!' When the devil heard these words of humbleness he dispersed in the air like smoke and disappeared.
8. A humble person, when entrusted with a ministry, will not ask God persistently the gift of speaking in tongues, nor declare to the people that this is a sign of fullness of the Spirit. 
The humble, if given the gift of speaking in tongues, will not look down on the person who has not such a gift as have not yet attained a high level, nor say to the others, 'Come, let me deliver to you an exercise from God, speaking as a gift-giver!