Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Saint Ignatius On The Virtue Of Humility

Saint Magdalene de Pazzi, a Carmelite Nun, favored with frequent and authentic visions, being rapt in ecstasy on the 18th of December, 1594, beheld the Blessed Virgin placed between St. Ignatius and St. Angelo, a Carmelite and martyr. She led up these two Saints to the holy Magdalene, so that they might instruct her, the one in the virtue of humility, the other in that of poverty. St. Ignatius was the first who spoke, and Magdalene, as it always happened when in these raptures, repeated in a loud, though sometimes broken voice, the words which she heard, and which were as follows :— 
" I, Ignatius, am chosen by the Mother of thy Divine Spouse, to speak to thee upon humility. Listen then to my words. Humility, like the oil poured into a lamp, ought to fill the heart of those who enter upon a religious life; and as the oil occupies every part of the vase into which it is poured, so humility, which is the true knowledge of ourselves, ought to occupy all the powers of the human soul. And as the wick cannot burn unless impregnated with oil, so the soul cannot bear fruits of perfection and holiness, if we neglect for one moment to feed it with humility, which is the basis of all religious virtue. It is, besides, nothing else than the ever-present consciousness in the mind of its own nothingness, and the constant love of every thing which can tend to self-abasement. Thus, even whilst we enjoy the subjection in which we hold all the powers of our soul, far from attributing merit to ourselves, we must submit, with unshaken firmness, to all the humiliating trials necessary to be undergone, before we arrive at that perfect peace and order, the attainment of which is our sole object in assuming the religious habit. If those who direct the novices find in them a certain repugnance to renounce either their will or their judgment, they must reprove them severely for this, as for a serious fault; and at the same time show them how they glorify God by their submission, and the great fruits unto salvation which they will gather from humility. Let humility become the object of their love, of their desire, of their aspiration. Let this virtue shine in all their words, in all their actions, and let every word which is not impressed with humility be as much avoided in religion, as words of blasphemy in the world.
"The Superiors .should give such constant examples of humility, as to render all further proofs of their possessing that virtue unnecessary, when they reprimand or exhort their children. Let every Spouse of Christ hold herself in readiness to be transplanted either into the valleys or upon the mountains, every where ready to give forth precious fruits. Let them be in the edifice of spiritual perfection, like the stones employed in building the Temple of Solomon, where no sound of hammer was ever heard. And, should they resist whilst being fitted in to the places which they are destined to fill in the building, let them be silenced, partly by acts of love, and partly by severity. Or, if such humility is distasteful to them, place in their hands an image of their Crucified Spouse, and show them how they are to imitate Him. Let those who have the care of souls never cease to exercise them in humility, so long as the flesh and bones of their bodies hold together; for it is a ladder with many steps which we must always mount, and yet which will never raise us higher, because we must always ascend and descend it.

"The soul which has no humility can never rise above itself, for a thousand low passions, a thousand vain desires chain it to earth. As the Incarnate Word constituted his apostles fishers of men, so he has charged his Spouses to win over souls to Him. I have now spoken to thee enough upon humility; I leave thee to one who will instruct thee upon the true spirit of poverty."
Thus spake the Blessed Ignatius upon the great virtue of humility; and since the Mother of the Eternal Word thus chose him from amongst so many other humble Saints, who had formerly lived upon earth, and now enjoyed the presence of God in Heaven, to teach it to a holy servant of the Lord, this alone, according to the opinion of those capable of appreciating that virtue in all its perfection, is sufficient to prove to what a super-eminent degree of humility St. Ignatius had attained.
Link (here) to the History of the Life and Institute of Ignatius of Loyola

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