December 19

We are led and guided towards God-given humility by seven different qualities, each of which generates and complements the others: silence, humbleness in thought, in speech, in appearance, self-reproach, contrition and looking on oneself as the least of men. Silence consciously espoused gives birth to humbleness in thought. Humbleness in thought produces three further modes of humility, namely, humbleness in speech, bearing oneself in a simple and humble way, and constant self-belittlement.

These three modes give birth to contrition; this arises within us when God allows us to suffer temptations–when, that is, we are disciplined by providence and humbled by the demons. Contrition readily induces the soul to feel the lowest and least of all, and the servant of all. Contrition and looking on oneself as the least of all bring about the perfect humility that is the gift of God, a power rightly regarded as the perfection of all the virtues. It is a state in which one ascribes all one’s achievements to God.

Thus the first factor leading to humility is silence, from which humbleness of thought is born. This gives birth to the three further modes of humility. These three generate the single quality of contrition. The quality of contrition gives birth to the seventh mode, the primal humility of regarding oneself as the least of men, which is also called providential humility. Providential humility confers the true and God-given humility that is perfect and indescribable.

Primal humility comes thus: when you are abandoned, overcome, enslaved and dominated by every passion, distractive thought and evil spirit, and can find no help in doing good works, or in God, or in anything at all, so that you are ready to fall into despair, then you are humbled in everything, are filled with contrition and regard yourself as the least of all things, the slave of all, and worse even than the demons, since you are dominated and vanquished by them. This is providential humility. Once acquired, through it God bestows the ultimate humility. This is a divine power that activates and accomplishes all things. With its aid a man always sees himself as an instrument of divine power, and through it he accomplishes the miraculous works of God.

~St Gregory of Sinai

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