A Year with the Saints – 4 February


Humility is necessary not only for the acquisition of virtues, but even for salvation. For the gate of Heaven, as Christ Himself testifies, is so narrow that it admits only little ones. Saint Bernard of Clairvaux

The Pharisee was separated by his condition in life from the rest of the people, as this sect formed a kind of religious order, in which they prayed, fasted, and performed many other good works; but he was, notwithstanding, reproved by God. Why, then, was this? For no other reason than that he was wanting in humility; for he felt much satisfaction in his good works, and gloried in them as if they were the result of his own virtue.

William, Bishop of Lyons, tells in his Chronicles, of a monk who often violated the prescribed silence, but upon being admonished spiritually by his Abbot he amended, and became so recollected and so devout that he was worthy to receive from God many revelations. Now, it happened that the Father Abbot was sent for by a hermit, who, having reached the close of a virtuous life, desired to receive from him the last Sacraments. The Abbot went, and took with him the silent monk. On the road, a robber, hearing the little bell, accompanied the Blessed Sacrament as far as the cell of the dying man; but he stopped outside, considering himself unworthy to enter the abode of a saint. After the hermit had confessed and received Communion with humility, the robber kept repeating at the door, “Oh, Father, if I were but like you, oh, how happy should I be!” The hermit hearing this, said in his heart, with presumption and complacency, “You are right to desire this; who can doubt it?” and immediately expired. Then the good Religious began to weep, and withdrew from the Abbot. The robber followed them, with tears and hatred for his sins, and the full purpose of confessing and doing penance for them, as soon as they should arrive at the monastery. But he was not able to reach it, for on the way he fell unexpectedly to the ground and died. At this accident, the Religious became joyous again and laughed; and when the Abbot asked him why he had been sad at the death of the hermit, and joyful at that of the robber, he replied: “Because the former is lost, in punishment for his presumption, and the latter saved, on account of his strong resolution to do fitting penance for his sins; and the sorrow he felt for them was so great that it has cancelled even all their penalty.”

MLA Citation