Latest Posts

Post Library


Humility: the Antidote to Pride

Normand GouinNormand Gouin, Pastoral Minister of Liturgy and Music
August 26, 2022

In her ground-breaking book, “The Gifts of Imperfection: Let go of who you are supposed to be and embrace who you are,” author and social scientist, Dr. Brené Brown, defines perfectionism as “a self-destructive and addictive belief system that fuels this primary thought: If I look perfect and do everything perfectly, I can avoid or minimize the painful feelings of blame, judgement, and shame.”

As a recovering perfectionist, I have personally struggled to let go of the fear of making mistakes, of disappointing others, and of avoiding uncomfortable emotions and situations. What I have discovered along the way is that unchecked perfectionism hampers my ability to achieve my true potential. When I hold on to the fear of recognizing and accepting my limitations, I restrict my ability to live a life that is wholehearted and authentic, mistakes and all. It also makes it difficult for me to be truly present and available for others.

Though this somewhat clinical term has emerged and grown in popularity in recent decades a related term and disposition, pride, has been around much longer. Luke uses the story of Jesus attending the Sabbath meal at the home of one of the leading Pharisee’s to highlight the deceptiveness and cost of pride. Jesus’ caution to “keep one’s ego in check” and acknowledge one’s connectedness to all humanity – the privileged and the poor – beckons us to break down the walls of class, status, and power.  From God’s perspective, it is only those who humble themselves who are exalted. This reversal of human ways of acting applies to all, especially those who consistently strive for honor, power, and prestige as well as those who constantly seek approval and validation.

Humility, in the words of St. Augustine – whose feast is celebrated on August 28 – is the antidote to pride. For Jesus, this core value is about knowing who we truly are by truly knowing him. For it is only when, like Jesus, we are self-emptied, that we can claim our identity as the children of a loving God rather than what we possess, the status we have, or the control and comfort we cling to. The more we rely on Christ as the true source of our happiness and fulfillment, the more we can develop into the loving, generous, compassionate human beings God has created us to be. In doing so, our focus shifts from serving only ourselves to serving others. In fact, for Jesus, it is in the very act of pouring ourselves out for others, done in a spirit of joy and compassion, that we are truly able to be our best, most authentic, “perfect” selves.

C.S. Lewis said it well, “Developing the identity, attitude, and conduct of a humble servant does not happen overnight. It is rather like peeling an onion: you cut away one layer only to find another beneath it. But it does happen. As we forsake pride and seek to humble ourselves by daily deliberate choices in dependence on the Holy Spirit, humility grows in our souls.”

May we as individuals and as a community always seek to embody the humility of Christ, experiencing it as, in the words of the French Archbishop François Fénelo, “a grace that is precious in the sight of God, who in due course will exalt all who embrace it.”