Saturday, December 28, 2013

Fr. Dom Vitalis Lehodey on Receiving Humiliations

The humiliations we procure for ourselves are always too delicate and too infrequent to cause the destruction of self-love. What we require is that others should put us to shame, should bluntly tell us the truth about ourselves, should expose us, should repeatedly denounce us, and make us feel the world of misery and corruption that is seething within us. That is the reason why God deprives us of health, weakens our natural faculties, leaves us in helplessness and darkness, or afflicts us with other interior trials. That is why He buffets us by the hand of Satan, why He moves our superiors to reprehend us, and has imposed on the community the obligation of co-operating with us, according to our usages, in the correction of our faults. It is especially through our associates that He subjects us to the painful but salutary action of humiliation. He employs all in this enterprise, making use of both enlightened and bitter zeal, virtues and defects, good intentions, frailties, and even malice itself. Men are only His responsible instruments; and He will punish or reward them according to their works in His own good time. Let us allow Him this directive role. And attending only to Him, our God, our Savior, our Friend par excellence, let us forget whatever may be disagreeable to nature, and accept as from His hand this very beneficial, if distasteful, treatment of humiliations. Generally, they are light and passing. But if they were more painful and enduring, they would also be, through the mercy of God, in fuller measure "a compensation for our sins of the past, a title to the pardon of our daily offenses, a remedy for our infirmities, a treasure of merits and virtues, a proof of our loyal devotion to God, the purchase-price of intimate relations with Him, and the means of our perfection."

Humiliations foster pride when they are rejected with anger or accepted with discontent. This fact explains why "so many are humbled without becoming humble," as St. Bernard remarks. He alone profits by his humiliations who receives them with welcome; and he profits the more according as he receives them the more humbly, as from the hand of God, saying to himself, for example: "I have richly deserved this confusion, and have also great need of it. Since a slight offense, a little want of consideration, a disagreeable word suffices to fill me with trouble and agitation, pride must still be living and vigorous in my heart. Hence, far from regarding the humiliation as an evil, I ought rather to look upon it as a remedy; I ought to bless God Who deigns to cure me; and I ought to feel thankful to my brethren for the assistance they give me in conquering self-love. And besides, what I should really consider a proper subject for shame, confusion, and humiliation, is to feel myself still so full of pride, after my many years spent in the service of the King of the humble." Ah! if we but clearly realized our past transgressions and our present miseries, we should find it easy enough to convince ourselves that no creature can ever make us endure as much contempt, injury, and disgrace as we deserve. And instead of murmuring when God sends us humiliations, we should rather thank Him as for a wonderful favor, since in return for our acceptance of a slight and transient confusion, He conceals from nearly all mortal eyes the view of our countless miseries, and spares us the everlasting confusion of the lost. Let us not say that we are guiltless in the present instance. For there are doubtless many faults to our charge which have never been punished, and the expiation thereof is not the less due because so long deferred.


Source: Dom Vitalis Lehodey, Holy Abandonment, trans. Ailbe J. Luddy (Rockford, IL: TAN Books, 2003), 216-218.

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