Lessons January 29, 2006 - Humility


"Those who seek humility should bear in mind the three following things: that they are the worst of sinners, that they are the most despicable of all creatures since their state is an unnatural one, and that they are even more pitiable than the demons, since they are slaves to the demons. You will also profit if you say this to yourself: how do I know what or how many other people's sins are, or whether they are greater than or equal to my own? In our ignorance you and I, my soul, are worse than all men, we are dust and ashes under their feet. How can I not regard myself as more despicable than all other creatures, for they act in accordance with the nature they have been given, while I, owing to my innumerable sins, am in a state contrary to nature." -St. Gregory of Sinai


"Repentance lifts a man up. Mourning knocks at heaven's gate. Holy humility opens it. This I say, and I worship a Trinity in Unity and a Unity in Trinity." -St. John Climacus.


"If pride turned some of the angels into demons, then humility can doubtless make angels out of demons. So take heart, all you sinners." -St. John Climacus.


"No man has understanding if he is not humble, and he who lacks humility is devoid of understanding. No man is humble if he is not peaceful, and he who is not peaceful is not humble. And no man is peaceful without rejoicing. In all the paths upon which men journey in this world they will find no peace, until they draw nigh to hope in God." - St. Isaac the Syrian.


"Humility is constant forgetfulness of one's achievements." -St. John Climacus.


"If the humble man has any kind of virtue, he attributes it not to his own strength, but to God's help, in agreement with the words of Jesus Christ Who said: 'When ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, we are unprofitable servants' (Luke 17:10). 'Without Me,' the Lord says, 'ye can do nothing' (John 15:5). Humility is to understand oneself to be nothing. The best helps in avoiding temptations are meekness and humility of spirit and constant vigilance of mind." -St. Nazarius.


The light of dawn comes before the sun, and meekness is the precursor of all humility.  So let us listen to the order in which Christ, our Light, places these virtues.  He says: "Learn from Me, because I am meek and humble of heart."  Therefore before gazing at the sun of humility, we must let the light of meekness flow over us.  If we do, we will then be able to look steadily at the sun.  The true order of these virtues teaches us that we are totally unable to turn our eyes to the sun before we have first become accustomed to the light. Meekness is an unchangeable state of mind, which remains the same in honour and dishonour. Meekness is a rock overlooking the sea of anger, which breaks all the waves that dash against it, yet remains completely unmoved. Meekness is the fellow-worker with obedience, the guide of the brotherhood, a bridle for the enraged, a check for the irritable, a minister of joy, the imitation of Christ, something proper to angels, shackles for demons, a shield against bitterness.- St. John Climacus


"Humility is born of spiritual knowledge; and such knowledge is born of trials and temptations." -St. Peter of Damaskos.


I prefer a sinful man who knows he has sinned and repents, to a man who has not sinned and considers himself to be righteous. -Abba Sarmatas


"Self-knowledge is needful; this is the knowledge of oneself and especially of the limitation of one's talents, one's failings, and lack of skill. From this it should result that we consider ourselves unworthy of any kind of position, and therefore that we do not desire any special positions, but rather accept what is placed upon us with fear and humility. He who knows himself pays no heed to the sins of others, but looks to his own and is always repenting over them; he reflects concerning himself, and condemns himself, and does not interfere in anything apart from his own position. -Abbot Nazarius.


Amma Theodora said that neither asceticism, nor vigils nor any kind of suffering are able to save, only true humility can do that.  There was an anchorite who was able to banish the demons; and he asked them, "What makes you go away?  Is it fasting?"  They replied, "We do not eat or drink."  "Is it vigils?"  They replied, "We do not sleep."  "Is it separation from the world?"  "We live in the deserts."  "Then what power sends you away?" They said, "Nothing can overcome us, but only humility."  Amma Theodora concluded by saying, "Do you see how humility is victorious over the demons?"  - Sayings of the Desert Fathers


An old man was asked, "What is humility?" and he said in reply, "Humility is a great work, and a work of God. The way of humility is to undertake bodily labour and believe yourself a sinner and make yourself subject to all." Then a brother said, "What does it mean, to be subject to all?" The old man answered, "To be subject to all is not to give your attention to the sins of others but always to give your attention to your own sins and to pray without ceasing to God." -Sayings of the Desert Fathers


An old man said, "Every time a thought of superiority or vanity moves you, examine your conscience to see if you have kept all the commandments, whether you love your enemies, whether you consider yourself to be an unprofitable servant and the greatest sinner of all. Even so, do not pretend to great ideas as though you were perfectly right, for that thought destroys everything." -Sayings of the Desert Fathers


The thief was on the cross and he was justified by a single word; and Judas who was counted in the number of the apostles lost all his labour in one single night and descended from heaven to hell. Therefore, let no-one boast of his good works, for all those who trust in themselves fall. -Abba Xanthias


"Even if we should have mounted to the very pinnacle of virtue, let us consider ourselves last of all; having learned that pride is able to cast down even from the heavens themselves him who takes not heed, and humbleness of mind to bear up on high from the very abyss of sins him who knows how to be sober. For this it was that placed the publican before the Pharisee." -St. John Chrysostom.