St. Bernard was once asked what virtue he would suggest to practice. The saint responded: “humility, and humility, and once again humility.”  In heaven God is surrounded by His friends, the saints. In hell, the damned live in company with Satan and the devils.  All of the saints are humble. The devil and the damned are proud.  To make a long story short: we should all long to practice virtue, but in a very special way the virtue of HUMILITY!  Following is a short essay on ten concrete ways that all of us can strive to attain and to practice the all-important virtue of humility.


1.    Beg for the grace to grow in humility. Be a beggar and implore the Lord for humility!

2.    DEFINITION:  “Humility is a quality by which a person considering his own defects has a lowly opinion of himself and willingly submits himself to God and to others for God’s sake.”  St. Bernard defines it: “A virtue by which a man knowing himself as he truly is abases himself.” These definitions coincide with that given by St. Thomas: “The virtue of humility,” he says, “Consists in keeping oneself within one’s bounds, not reaching out to things above one, but submitting to one’s superior.” (Taken from the Catholic Encyclopedia)

3.     Recognize who you are and where you came from. St. Catherine of Siena would say, “God is all and I am nothing.”  Call to mind that once you did not exist and God through His infinite love created you and brought you into existence.

4.     Learn this short but efficacious prayer for humility: “Jesus meek and humble of heart make my heart like unto thine.”

5.    Recognize that the royal path to humility is through humiliations.  God chooses certain humiliations to keep us humble.  The  following is a list of possible humiliations that  God could allow to visit us:

a.)   Being cut off in traffic and honked at!

b.)   Interrupted and cut off during a conversation.

c.)    Your Birthday or Anniversary is forgotten by a loved one who should have known better!

d.)   A dear friend of yours ignores you; does not take you into account.

e.)  CORRECTION.  Somebody pulls you aside and corrects one of your defects.

f.)    CORRECTION.  In Public, somebody corrects you in front of a group of people!

g.)  Mom works hard giving time, effort and energy to preparing a good family meal and instead of gratitude she receives either indifference or a criticism on her cooking!

h.)   BANQUET/PARTY.   You are invited and given the last place in the banquet hall near the door or the bathroom.

i.)    WEDDING.   You were not even invited to the wedding by your sister or by your cousin!

j.)    In a Company meeting everybody is mentioned and given a reward for their work and effort, except you.

k.)  PROMOTION.  A new worker is given a promotion and raise in salary, and you have not, even though you have been working there for more than ten years!

l.)    SPORTS.  You simply lose the game after all the hard work!

m.)          EXAM. Failed it after  hours of study!


6.    HUMILIATIONS can make us “Better of bitter”.   If we do not see them in the light of faith suffering as well as humiliations can be a source of bitterness. However, if seen in the light of faith they can make us better and even more holy people.


a)    INCARNATION.  The Son of God becoming man was indeed an incredible humiliation. God lowered Himself to become a man!

b)    PASSION, SUFFERING, AND DEATH.   Just going through any element of His Passion we contemplate the depths of true humility of the Son of God. Go back and view the movie of the Passion of the Christ by Mel Gibson and you will see.  Especially you might focus on His crowning with thorns.

c)     JESUS’ PRESENCE IN THE MASS AND THE EUCHARIST.   Jesus said that He would be with us always even until the end of the time.  This is true in His Mystical Body the Church, but in a very special way in the Mass and the Eucharist.  Related to humility, many do not even go to Mass thereby ignoring the King of Kings. Worse yet, there are many Catholics who receive Him who should not receive Him in Holy Communion thereby committing a sacrilege, eating and drinking to their own condemnation. ( Read I Corinthians 11). By this they are crucifying Jesus over and over again.

8.    THE KEY FOR US TO GROW IN HUMILITY.  Even though this is extremely difficult, when the humiliations come and they indeed will come, then to accept them as a blessing from God.  If when one of these many humiliations comes to visit us we can accept them and unite them to Jesus’ humiliations with resignation and conformity, then these humiliations make us better rather than bitter and we grow in the virtue of humility.   The grace of God is operative but we must be docile and respond to it.

9.    HEAVEN AND HELL.   In hell are only the proud, arrogant, obnoxious and self-sufficient. In Heaven, with Jesus and Mary (true models in all virtues) are those who were humble.   Saints were humble and we are called to imitate the saints especially in this virtue. Saints recognize that all the good they can do comes from God; they also admit the evil is of their own doing.
10. MARY.   After Jesus Mary is the greatest model of humility in the world. In two places we see her profound humility. 1) Her “Fiat” or consent to God to be the Mother of God: “Behold I am the handmaid (servant) of the Lord, may it be done to me according to your will.” 2) Her Magnficat, in which she says, “He has looked upon the lowliness (or humility) of his handmaid…. He has cast down the mighty from their thrones and has lifted up the lowly…”   May Our Lady grant us the grace to turn our humiliations into signs of true victory.  “Jesus meek and humble of heart, make my heart like unto thine.”