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HOW TO ADMONISH THE HUMBLE AND THE HAUGHTY

The humble should be told how genuine is that excellence which they hope for; the haughty should be told how worthless are the things they are proud of.

Tell the humble the eternal nature of the things they desire  and the transitory nature  of the things they despise. Tell the haughty the transitory nature of the things they are proud of and the eternal things they lose in the process.

Let the humble hear: "Everyone that humbles himself shall be exalted;" the proud: "Everyone that exalteth himself shall be humbled." Humility goes before glory; the spirit is lifted up before a fall.

Let the humble know: "That the Son of Man is not come to be ministered but to minister;" the proud: "That pride is the beginning of all sin."

The pride of the devil became the occasion of our perdition; the humility of God proved to be the pledge of our redemption. Pride makes us wish to be superior to all; humility, the littlest among all. Tell the humble that, in abasing themselves, they rise to the likeness of God; tell the proud that, in exalting themselves, they debase themselves to the likeness of the devil. 

But many may be deceived by the semblance of humility expressed in excessive fear when they do not speak, appearing conciliatory to evil. Outspokeness of speech usually characterizes the haughty. Here, fear is wrongly described as humility while haughty speech is wrongly described as fearless righteousness.

So, tell the haughty not to be more outspoken than is fitting; tell the humble not to be more submissive than is becoming, lest his silence is taken as showing respect to vice.

Correct the haughty with conciliatory praise. Mention the good qualities they possess or even they do not possess. The conciliatory praise will render their mind well disposed to listen to correction. So, reproof of the haughty must include a proportionate amount of praise so that while they accept the approbation which they like, they may also accept the reproofs which they dislike. Also, it is better to persuade the haughty if we say that their progress is more likely to benefit us than themselves thus their amendment is more a favour to us than to themselves. For the haughty are more easily led to good if they believe that, in turning to good, they will profit others also.

Thus, Moses, though he needed no help from man, because he was receiving help from God, asked Habab, a haughty kinsman, to help him guide the chosen people through the desert. Thus, Moses won Habab back to God's ways.

St. Gregory the Great: Pastoral Care, Part III, Chapter 15

 

 


 

 

(01-15-04)

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