for all the victims of our recent hurricane and earthquake activity.
for Anne Marie Johnson—in a Haitian hospital with pneumonia.
for Alfie Evans, 14 Months old ,
another hostage of socialized medicine in Britain.
If today were not Sunday we would be celebrating the
feast of Our Lady of Ransom. In AD 1218, our Lady appeared to Peter Nolasco,
Raymond of Peñafort, and King James of Aragon, asking them to form a
religious order to ransom Christians who had been kidnapped by the Moslems
who raided the port cities around the Mediterranean. The captives lost not
only their freedom but were in danger of being forced to convert to the
false religion. While the rich had relatives and friends looking out for
them, the poor did not. The poor were therefore the focus of the order’s
work, done under the patronage of Our Lady of Ransom. In addition to
poverty, chastity, and obedience, these “Mercedarians” took a fourth vow:
“I will remain in person in the power of the Moslems if it be necessary for
the Redemption of Christ’s Faithful.”
Ordinary of the Mass
Mass Text - Latin
Mass Text - English
that exalts himself shall be humbled,
and he that humbles himself shall be exalted.”
Virtually all Catholic teachers of the spiritual life
emphasize the need for humility to achieve true holiness. People who are
overly concerned with their own importance rarely attribute their good
qualities to God, and often use their self-importance to justify sinning
against their neighbors. Pride (or at least false pride) is a vice that
drives people away from God, and from doing what is good.
We distinguish “false pride” because there is something
good to be said for having “pride in one’s workmanship,” “pride in one’s
appearance,” and so forth.
Dom Eugene Boylen was a Trappist abbot and a great
writer and speaker. In giving a retreat to his monks he said: “You don’t
make a man humble by humiliatin’ him.” He wrote: “By humility, one accepts
oneself with all ones’ deficiencies.”
In my definition, a humble person is not one who
grovels and goes about speaking poorly of himself. Humility, at least as we
are using the term here, requires the person to accurately know his own
talents and abilities, to attribute them fairly to God’s generosity and to
his own practice of those talents, and who employs those talents in the
common interest. For example, an accomplished violinist does not hide his
musical talent, but he does acknowledge God’s gift of his abilities, while
not hiding the need for hours of practice. He makes his music available to
those who appreciate it—for which he has a right to just compensation. Yet,
even though he possesses a great talent, he does not go around boasting
about how wonderful his music is.
We can also recognize the virtue of modesty in the
properly humble person. There is a difference between dressing in an
attractive manner and being ostentatious. Some of this is cultural—a humble
man might own a red shirt or a red tie, but probably not a red business
suit. And, generally, there may be different standards for men and for
women; for the young and the old. The humble person does not try to call
attention to himself unnecessarily. I say “unnecessarily” for sometimes it
is important to recognize peoples’ functions by their appearance—the
lifeguard at the beach for example, or the policeman on the beat.
Our Lord’s parable is a wonderful example of people
trying to be acknowledged without doing anything praiseworthy. Presumably
the place of honor was to sit at the side of the host of the dinner. Those
who honored themselves did so by doing nothing important—nothing more than
sitting. Our Lord often referred to the hypocrisy of the Pharisees, and
this system for honoring ones’ self seems to be structured to allow that
hypocrisy to be displayed.
Having the host set out place cards would avid the
There is a good lesson to be learned by those puffed up
with false pride. In Our Lord’s example it is the exercise of false pride
that leads to embarrassment of the proud. If you hadn’t chosen a seat based
on your alleged self-importance, you would not be publicly called out for
being of lesser importance than another of the guests. False pride often
has a humbling effect—particularly when it is demonstrated that the
individual had nothing to be proud about. False pride, simply stated, will
help you to make a fool of yourself
God is always the ultimate source of anything we have
that is good. We should recognize this in everything we do. And we should
always be generous in sharing our talents with the neighbors God gives us.
humbles himself shall be exalted.”