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St. Isaac the Syrian on Humility ☀️
"A humble man is internally a very strong man, fearless, remains calm in every situation, never rash, hasty or disturbed. He is always at rest as nothing agitates his mind. Just as you cannot frighten the mountain, you cannot frighten the humble man. The humble man is not of this world. He is not troubled and altered by sorrows and does not lose himself in joys, but his gladness and joys are things of his Lord.
Humility is accomplished by self-collectedness, chastity of the senses, moderate voice, self-belittlement, easily flowing tears, a solitary soul, contrite heart, absence of anger, endurance, patience, patient endurance of trials, manliness of heart which is born of a hatred of this temporal life."
In reflecting on the features of a humble man, as described St. Isaac, we realise several things. Firstly, we see that some of these attributes of humility are not in us yet. This is a good thing to be aware of, for it allows us to have an honest starting point with which to see ourselves. Most importantly, it offers us a clear direction forward. It provides a proper understanding of what true humility is and what we’re to strive toward.
How then are we to reach this state? The answer is hidden in the meaning of sainthood.
The saint means to be - *set apart*, in accordance with the way the ancient Christians viewed themselves – different from the rest of the World. To be set apart from the World means to be dedicated for service to God and to others. This means to pray and to serve, not just to take and indulge, which is characteristic of people of the World.
The saint lives in the presence of God – serving God and others – through prayer, fasting and almsgiving (not just giving money but all services offered for others for the sake of God). Through this way of life, the saint acquires humility which is nothing other than a gift of the Holy Spirit. When the Holy Spirit comes upon a man, His gifts of peace love, joy, gentleness, patience and long-suffering abound; the humble man is crowned.
St. Seraphim of Sarov teaches that the aim of the Christian life is to acquire the Holy Spirit. Let us understand that only the Holy Spirit will bring us the gift of humility, but the means of acquire this cannot be separated from our service to God and others.
"You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it, you shall love your neighbour as yourself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets."