Editor’s note: An earlier version of this post incorrectly referred to Thomas Merton as a Saint. A noted theologian, philosopher and writer, Merton was one of the most influential Catholic thinkers of the 20th century, and has been considered by many to be on the path to canonization. However, he has not yet attained that status. With true humility, The Catholic Steward regrets the error.
Updated Feb. 9, 2013
For most people, the virtue of humility is complicated.
Simply defined, humility is a quality by which a person considering his own defects has a humble opinion of himself, and willingly submits himself to God and to others for God’s sake.
Being humble, modest, and unpretentious are hallmarks of humility. It’s no wonder that in America, where we value power, money, happiness, and success, understanding this particular virtue can be even more confusing.
We want to be successful. We want our children to be happy. We want to chart the course of our lives in a way that allows us to best achieve our goals. And, deep down, most of us believe we know exactly how to do that, and that we are the masters of our own destiny.
According to the great Catholic writer and Trappist monk Thomas Merton, we may want to rethink that notion. “We ought to have the humility to admit we do not know all about ourselves, that we are not experts at running our own lives,” Merton said.
As stewards, we must realize that God is ultimately in control. We are called to follow Christ – not the world – to give up a portion of our resources for the benefit of others, even if that means we have less time, money, or energy for our own personal gain.