This is the seventh in a series on St. Benedict for Beginners. – The Editors

"Saint Benedict of Nursia" by Fra Angelico

The First Step to Humility

‘The first step of humility is for a man to set the fear of God always before his eyes.’

We live today with a Jesus who is our friend and a God who is more of a congenial uncle than a true Father. It is not a bad thing to balance these sentimental images of God with the truth that while Jesus is our friend and brother he is also the great king and judge at the last day. While God is our loving Father – his love is sometimes tough as well as tender.

The fear of God is the first step to humility not because we should be shrinking in a terrified way of God’s judgement, but because the fact of God being our judge should open our eyes to reality: the reality of our proper relationship with our maker.

This reality opens our eyes to certain truths which we sometimes wish to avoid.

It opens our eyes to our own mortality. God is great and we are not. God is immortal and without him we are mortal. Our life depends on his greater life.

This ‘fear’ is therefore simply a form of honesty and clarity about ourselves, our lives and our ultimate destiny. It is this stark reality which provides the foundation for the growth of genuine humility.

Fr. Dwight Longenecker is the author of “Listen My Son” – a commentary on the Rule of St Benedict for families. Visit Fr. Dwight’s website to buy a copy here.

Fr. Dwight Longenecker is the parish priest of Our Lady of the Rosary Church in Greenville, South Carolina. He is author of thirteen books on the Catholic faith. Praying the Rosary for Inner Healing is available in Catholic bookshops and through his website:

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