Humility in Our Falls
Presence of God – “I am a beggar and poor, but the Lord is careful for me.” “In the shadow of Thy wings will I hope” (Psalm 40:18, 57:2).
If we contemplate our misery without raising our eyes to God, the Father of mercies, we will easily become discouraged. By examining ourselves thoroughly, we will see that discouragement always comes from two closely related causes:
- The first is that we depend upon our own strength; through it our pride is wounded and deceived when we fall.
- The second is that we lack reliance on God; we do not think of referring to Him in times of prosperity, nor do we have recourse to Him when we fail Him.
In short, we act by ourselves: we try to succeed alone, we fall alone, and alone we contemplate our fall. The result of such conduct can only be discouragement. Indeed, how could we expect to find in ourselves the strength to rise again, when it was our very want of strength that made us fall? God does not want us to act by ourselves. “Woe to him that is alone,” says Sacred Scripture, “for when he falleth, he hath none to lift him up” (Ecclesiastes 4:10). Woe to him who relies only on his own strength to put his good resolutions into execution. When he falls, he will not have the aid of God’s might to lift him up; thus he will remain in his misery, confused and discouraged.
Just as we should not make good resolutions without counting on God’s help to keep them, by the same token we should not view our failures without considering God’s mercy at the same time, for as God is the only One who can help us persevere in good, so He alone can raise us up from evil.
That is why all the saints have taught that the knowledge of oneself must never be separated from the knowledge of God and vice versa. St. Teresa of Jesus says, “The soul must sometimes emerge from self-knowledge and soar aloft in meditation upon the greatness and the majesty of its God. Doing this will help it to realize its own baseness better than thinking of its own nature, and it will be freer from the reptiles which enter the first rooms, that is, the rooms of self-knowledge” (Interior Castle 1,2).
O Lord, my misery “does not surprise me. Nor does my utter helplessness distress me. I even glory in it, and expect every day to reveal some fresh imperfection. Indeed these lights on my nothingness do me more good than lights on matters of faith.
“What an illusion!… We wish never to fall? What difference does it make, O Lord, if I fall at every instant? It will make me realize my weakness and I shall derive great profit from it. You see what I am capable of, O my God, and so You will be obliged to carry me in Your arms. If You do not do so, it will mean that You are pleased to see me on the ground … but I shall not be disturbed. Full of love, I shall always lift up my suppliant arms to You. I cannot believe that You will abandon me.
“O Jesus, it is true that I am not always faithful, but I never become discouraged, I cast myself into Your arms, and like a little dewdrop, I sink deeper and deeper into Your chalice, O divine Flower of the field, and there I find all I have lost and much more besides.
“Yes, O my God, I am happy to feel little and weak in Your presence, and my heart remains in peace…. I am glad to feel so imperfect and to need Your mercy so much! When we calmly accept the humiliation of being imperfect, Your grace, O Lord, returns at once” (Thérèse of the Child Jesus Story of a Soul – L – NV).
Note from Dan: This post on “Humility in Our Falls” is provided courtesy of Baronius Press and contains one of two meditations for the day. If you would like to get the full meditation from one of the best daily meditation works ever compiled, you can learn more here: Divine Intimacy. Please honor those who support us by purchasing and promoting their products.
Art: In der Klosterküche (In the Cloister’s Kitchen), Adolph Humberg (1847-1921), undated, PD-US author’s life plus 80 years or less, Wikimedia Commons. Father Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen, mirror from open source material.