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

“Saint Benedict of Nursia” by Fra Angelico

The Fifth Step to Humility

‘The fifth step of humility is that a man should in humble confession reveal to his Abbot all the evil thoughts that come into his mind, and any wrongful actions that he had done in secret.’

Nothing helps us make a quantum leap forward in the quest for humility than a good and complete confession. How often we go to confession and cut corners, soften the sins, lessen our guilt and avoid the really tough details. How often we use easy words to excuse ourselves and bundle up the messy and embarrassing sins into, “and for these and all my other sins…”

We should be harder on ourselves sometimes and get right down to the nitty gritty. The sins we are most ashamed of are the sins we most need to confess. The sins we are most ashamed of are the ones we need to be most specific about – even if it is difficult.

When we are specific about our secret thoughts and secret sins we take a huge leap forward in two ways: forgiveness and humility.

When we really make a good confession God’s abundant mercy comes washing over us in a torrent, and when we make a really good confession we grow in the virtue of humility with a sudden spurt of supernaturally graced growth.

All of this is to remind us that humility is reality and reality is humility.

A good confession cuts through all the self image, the ego and the pride which accumulates through daily life. It brings us right down where we need to be – and helps us realize that beneath all our accomplishment and worldly glory we are poor sinners reliant every moment on the grace of God.

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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