St. Benedict's Ladder of Humility: Step 6

The Sixth Step on the Ladder of Humility is that a person be content with the lowest and most menial treatment, and regards themselves as a poor and worthless worker in whatever task given.

This seemingly goes contrary to modern psychobabble regarding self-esteem and empowerment and such. So getting away from the apparent harshness and “anti-feel good” nature of this Step, what value can we gain from this?
We all, hopefully, think that we are good at what we do. Sometimes however this belief gets ahold of us and we become arrogant. We feel that we are “God’s gift” to whatever it is that we do. If we regard ourselves as “poor and worthless” then we retain a level of humility when it’s balanced with a reasonable assessment of ourselves.

With much of Catholicism, there is a balance between two things. Faith and reason for example. We need both to be good Catholics. Faith without Reason runs the risk of neurosis and superstition. Reason without Faith devalues the supernatural, or explains it away. Another is a balance between the moral and the social teachings of the Church. Using the secular definitions, too much of an emphasis on the moral teachings runs the risk of becoming too politically right-wing, whereas too much emphasis on the social teachings runs the opposite risk of becoming too politically left-wing. There needs to be a balance between two perspectives.

Another risk is the difference between true and false humility. With true humility you accept that you are good at what you do, but recognize that you are still a flawed, imperfect human being, and a sinner. Your skills do not make you better than other people, you just recognize that God gave you these skills and you are honoring Him by using them to the best of your ability. You readily acknowledge your faults and mistakes.

Being content with the lowest and menial treatment is “merely” going back to the notion of accepting whatever suffering that comes along as being necessary for your salvation, as acceptance of suffering is key to being Christian. It is an antidote to pride, another form of false humility. True humility deflects attention from ourselves, or at least we are uncomfortable with the attention; false humility attracts attention and enjoys the attention our work brings us.

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"The Recovery Rosary: Reflections for Alcoholics and Addicts"

and "The Stations of the Cross for Alcoholics"

One Comment

  1. “True humility deflects attention from ourselves, or at least we are uncomfortable with the attention; false humility attracts attention and enjoys the attention our work brings us.”Good quote. My Mom always told me when I was growing up that there was “always someone prettier or smarter.” She didn’t say this in a mean way – just a matter-of-fact, get used to it sort of way.It was a good way to keep my head screwed on straight and not take credit for gifts I may have received from God.

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