Monday, February 12, 2007


1. By self-love we mean here an inordinate love of self. We are not forbidden to love ourselves. In fact, this is something natural to us and therefore intended by God. We should love ourselves, however, in a properly ordered manner. In the first place, we must love God above everything and therefore more than ourselves. God is our creator, and our Redeemer and our final end. Everything comes to us from Him, and for this reason everything must return to Him. We should not be self-centred, but God-centred. In other words, we must direct all our actions towards God, not towards ourselves. We cannot set our own ego in the place which belongs to God, still less above Him. To do so would be equivalent to robbing God, because everything is His and we ourselves belong to Him. If we have any intelligence at all, let us remember that God gave it to us. If we have sound health, strength or good looks, let us remember that these are His gifts. If we have amassed a great store of cultural or artistic learning as a result of our own ability and study, let us not become too attached to it nor look for praise and admiration. It is God Who gave us this ability and the energy and enthusiasm to cultivate it. Honour and glory are due to God alone.

2. "Self-love dies three days after ourselves," St. Francis de Sales was accustome to remark. What he meant was that it is very difficult to think and act only for God, without our won ego raising its head and stealing some of His glory. It is hard to be humble in the presence of God. But it is harder still to be humble before men. When anybody genuflects in front of the altar and begins to pray in the presence of God, it is not too difficult for him to bow his head and recognise his own weakness and dependence. But it is different among other men. In the presence of men we are easily tempted to display ourselves and our endowments. We feel displeased when we are not noticed nor praised. Let us steer clear of the esteem of men. Humility is the foundation of every virtue. If we are not humble, we can never become holy.

3. There are three tiny blossoms which can scarcely be seen --- those of the corn, the olive, and the vine. Nevertheless, from these we receive grain, oil and win --- three very precious commodities. These three little blossoms are almost invisible in comparison with other larger flowers, such as that of the magnolia, which do not yield any useful fruit. They should present us with a starting-point for meditation. Would we like our actions to be valuable in the sight of God and bring forth fruit? Let us be humble and suppress love of self. Then God will look on us with favour. He will give us His grace and make fertile the work which we do purely for Him. God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble. (James 4:6)