Humility – Teresa of Avila

Posted by:

Humility – Teresa of Avila



1 “The mountain lords it over the molehill, but both are dwarfed by the stars.” (Oriental saying)


2. “The true way to be humble is not to stoop until you are smaller than yourself, but to stand at your real height against some higher nature that will show you what the real smallness of your greatness is.” (Phillips Brooks). “One of the best ways to acquire humility is to fix the following maxim in our mind: one is worth what one is worth in the eyes of God.” (Thomas a Kempis). “In itself, humility is nothing else but a true knowledge and awareness of oneself as one really is.” (Cloud ch 13)


3. “In my opinion, we will never acquire true humility if we do not lift up our eyes to God. Contemplating his greatness, the soul clearly sees its own lowliness; considering God’s patience, it sees how far it is from being patient. In fact, contemplating the Divine perfections, the soul sees its own great imperfections.” (Teresa of Avila)
“Look forward, not backward. See what you still lack, not what you have already; for
that is the quickest way of getting and keeping humility. Your whole life now must be
one of longing, if you are to achieve perfection.” (Cloud ch 2)


4. “The one who serves you best is the one who is less intent on hearing from you what he wills to hear than on shaping his will according to what he hears from you.” (Augustine) “Behold the handmaid of the Lord” (Lk 1:38). “Let not my will but thine be done.”(Mk 14:36). “Be the tree: let it be the carpenter. Be the house, and let it be the householder who lives there…” (Cloud ch 34)


5. “There is no queen (chess) who can beat this king as well as humility can; for humility brought him down from heaven into the virgin’s womb, and with humility we can draw Him into our souls by a single hair… .this king does not allow himself to be taken except by one who surrenders wholly to him. “(Teresa of Avila). “He will not work in your will if he has not sole charge; he does not ask for help, he asks for you.” (Cloud ch 2)


6. “It is very important in my opinion, to practise this virtue, in other words, to try to obtain from Our Lord that true humility of which He is the source.” (Teresa of Avila.) “Know that the secret love of a purified soul, continually pressing into this dark cloud of unknowing between you and God, truly and perfectly contains within itself that perfect humility.” (Cloud ch 13)


7. Humility “is not acquired by the understanding but by a clear perception of the truth which comprehends in one moment what could not be attained over a long period by the labour of the imagination — namely, that we are nothing and that God is infinitely great.” (Teresa of Avila.)


8. “(Humility and detachment form self) are the two sisters who are inseparable… .love them and never be seen without them.” (Teresa of Avila) “Mean by ‘sin’ the whole lump of it, not particularizing about any part, for it is nothing other than yourself.” (Cloud ch 36) “Feel sin it its totality — as a lump — without specifying any particular part, and that all of it is you.” (Cloud ch 40)


9. “When you speak, as it is right for you to do, with so great a Lord, it is well that you should think of who it is that your are addressing, and what your yourself are, if only that you may speak to Him with proper respect.” (Teresa of Avila)


10. “Beware of pride: it blasphemes God and his gifts, and encourages sinners.” (Cloud ch 34) (Cf Lk 15:1ff; 18:9-14; 17:7-10).


“The eyes of my soul were opened, and I beheld the plenitude of God, whereby I did comprehend the whole world, both here and beyond the sea, and the abyss and all things else; and therein did I behold naught save the divine power in a manner assuredly indescribable, so that though excess of marveling the soul cried with a loud voice, saying ‘This whole world is full of God!’ wherefore did I now comprehend that the world is but a small thing; I saw, moreover, that the power of God was above all things, and that the whole world was filled with it. Then He said unto me: ‘I have shown thee something of my power,’ that which I did so well understand, that it enabled me better to understand all other things. He said also, I have made thee to see something of my power; behold now, and see my humility’. Then was I given so deep an insight into the humility of God towards man and all other things, that when my soul remembered his unspeakable power and comprehended his deep humility, it marveled greatly and did esteem itself to be nothing at all.” (Vision of Angela of Foligno)


“There was a man who had two sons; and the younger of them said to his father, “Father, give me the share of property that falls to me.”.. .Not many days later, he gathered all he had and took his journey into a far country, an there he squandered his property in loose living….Father , I have sinned against heaven and before you; I am no longer worthy to be your son.”…Now his elder son was in the field; and as he came near to the house, he heard music and dancing… He was angry and refused to go in.. .”Lo, these many years I have served you, and I never disobeyed your command; yet you never gave me a kid, that I might make merry with my friends, But when this son of yours came, who has devoured you living with harlots, you killed the fatted calf!” (Lk15:1ff)


“He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous and despised others; Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself,’ god, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week, I give tithes of all that I get.’ But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me a sinner.’ I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted.” The Pharisee and the Publican (Lk 18:9- 14)


“Will any of you, who has a servant ploughing or keeping sheep, say to him when he has come in from the field,’ Come at once and sit down at table?’ Will he not rather say to him, ` Prepare supper for me, and gird yourself and serve me, till I eat and drink; and afterward you shall eat and drink?’ does he thank the servant because he die what was commanded. So you also, when you have done all that is commanded you, say, We are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty.” (Lk 17:7-10)