St. Benedict's Ladder of Humility: Step 4

Yesterday I mentioned that the Third Step on St. Benedict’s Ladder of Humility is about obedience and that the next step tells you how to deal with it as “obedience” is alien to today’s worldly people bent on personal self-determination.

OK, the Fourth Step is that if this obedience is difficult, unfavorable, or even unjust, one must embrace suffering, and endure it without weakening or seeking escape from it.

Granted, this might not be seen as an acceptable or particularly easy method to deal with the difficulties of “obedience” to legitimate authority. Sort of seems like those drugs advertised on television with a list of side-effects that seem worse than the malady the drug is supposed to cure.

But remember, we are Catholic and as Christians we are supposed to imitate Christ. And as I have said numerous times here, acceptance of suffering is essential to being Christian. That is something lost to many modern-day Christians as they seem to not differ too much from worldly types who seek to avoid suffering at all costs.

Christ suffered and died for our sins. We can imitate Him by accepting whatever suffering that comes into our lives as something permitted by God for our salvation. By enduring suffering we can offer it up in reparation for our sins and also for the sins of others. We can also offer it as an example to others of the contrary path that we Christians take in the world, a path that is essentially counter-cultural in fundamental ways that secular counter-culture isn’t.

Lest anyone think that this is merely a Christian thing, something similar is mentioned in a basic text of Alcoholics Anonymous. In the text, Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions (Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc., New York, 1981) states on page 90:

Few people have been victimized by resentments than have we alcoholics. It mattered little whether our resentments were justified or not. A burst of temper could spoil a day, and a well-nursed grudge could make us miserably ineffective. Nor were we ever skillful in separating justified from unjustified anger. As we saw it, our wrath was always justified. Anger, that occasional luxury of more balanced people, could keep us on an emotional jag indefinitely. These emotional “dry benders” often led straight to the bottle. Other kinds of disturbances – jealousy, envy, self-pity, or hurt pride, often did the same thing.

There is a Gospel passage:

Matt 10:22;

You will be hated by all because of my name, but whoever endures to the end will be saved.

And so we endure. We say the Serenity Prayer to help us “deal with it”, too, for those times when we might be compelled to do more. But whatever the case, we must never resort to the false humility of justifying a course of action because of any apparent “injustice” when it is really just a personal affront to our own pride and self-will. Too many angry people seek to redress “injustices”, when merely they are seeking to justify their own self-indulgences.

The difference between false humility and true humility is the difference between who is aggrieved, you or God?

Know someone, perhaps yourself, who might like Catholic devotionals for alcoholics? Please take a look at my books! (Thank you!!)

"The Recovery Rosary: Reflections for Alcoholics and Addicts"

and "The Stations of the Cross for Alcoholics"


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