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
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
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
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