Her Doctrine and Morals

Sixteenth Sunday after Pentecost

24 September 2017


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Dear Friends,

It is imperative that we examine closely our motives in all that we do. If we seek the recognition and praise of this world, we will have nothing in heaven. St. Basil instructs us that we should always consider ourselves to be the least or the lowest of men. In this humbled state of mind, we shun the praise of anyone. Any praise given is a great burden, as we see that it is not in conformity to our lowly station. Also, the truly humble soul is immune from insult or calumnies. In the profound realization of his unworthiness, every insult is closer to the truth and a cause of rejoicing in his heart. Even when lies are spoken of him, he sees that truly he is even worse than the accusations hurled against him. In this manner, the truly humble man is always at peace and daily draws closer to the superlative peace of Heaven.

Jesus has given us the example that we should never hesitate to do good. He shows us the hypocrisy of those who do not hesitate to break the letter of the Sabbath Law for the benefit of a brute beast; but will not lift a finger to help their fellow men. The Sabbath was made for man not man for the Sabbath. When we see someone in need, let us so whatever we can whenever we can to assist them. Even if all we have to offer is a cup of cold water.

The pride of the worldly consider the station of the one in need and whether he will be repaid for his efforts; or, he considers who is watching and how much praise he will receive from his efforts in helping another. In reality they are not being charitable, but are truly self-serving. We should not hesitate to good whatever the situation may be. If there are observers we should not concern ourselves with what they may think or say. It should not matter whether the observers praise or condemn our works. If we are truly humble our only concern is the good that we may do for Jesus — in our fellow men. In fact, the truly humble prefer that no one on earth see or know of the charitable works that they do. The seek to do them in secret so that only God will know of them. In this manner, we practice true humility and seek no reward or compensation in this life, but only in eternity.

When we consider ourselves as the least and the most unworthy, we naturally seek and take the last place. We consider all others as more worthy than ourselves. We will find peace in this as there are very few who will fight for the last place. There are occasions though, that St. Basil warns us of where people become proud and vain of their "humility." When two men seek and argue over the last place — wishing to appear before men as the most humble — they are no different than the men jockeying for the first place. Both are immersed in pride and vanity.

True humility is in the heart. It is ready to sacrifice its own will at all times. The humble man naturally takes the last place, but just as humbly moves higher when asked to do so by another. He does not glory in one or the other, but rejoices in drawing the least attention to himself from others.

This humility must also be conformed to in our clothing. St. Basil would have us avoid bright colors or flashy adornments that draw the attention of others to ourselves. He suggests that we obtain clothing that is inexpensive but durable and serviceable — this is what it means to be modest in dress. We might add that both extremes are immodest. It is immodest to dress expensively with extravagance and thus draw the attention of others to us. It is, also, immodest to dress in rags and thus draw attention to ourselves and our poverty (whether real or only perceived). Modesty also extends to the cut or styles of our clothing as our modern fashions tend towards the sexualization of our bodies through clothing (or the lack of it.) Such clothing is immodest, not so much for the impure thoughts it engenders in others, but because of the pride and vanity in seeking the notice or attention of others — seeking to be approved or desired by others. The impurity that is concomitant with this immodesty, is an additional sin to the immodesty.

If we strive to become truly humble — seeking the last place — and concern ourselves with what God sees and thinks; we will be less concerned with what our fellow men may see or think. In this, true humility, we find the middle course of virtue. We will not be offensive to God or to our fellow men. We will not become an occasion of sin for our fellow men; as our fellow men will barely even realize that we are there. As we fade in the limelight of this world, the light of God's grace grows ever stronger in our souls. This is the true and lasting light as opposed to false, fickle, and fleeting light of this world. May we always strive to despise the glory of this world and seek only the glory of God.

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