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

“Saint Benedict of Nursia” by Fra Angelico

The Twelfth Step to Humility

‘The twelfth step of humility is not only that the monk should be humble of heart, but also that in his appearance his humility should be apparent.’

There is a saying in monasteries that “the habit does not make the monk.” You could also say, “You ain’t a Texan ‘cause you wear a ten gallon hat!”

Benedict insists that the monk’s humility is truly a humility of heart, but he also wants that humility to be exhibited in the monk’s outward life.

This shows how deeply incarnational Benedict’s rule is. He realizes that what we do outwardly may help develop the inner condition just as the inner condition will be evidenced on the outside. He is therefore in favor of getting the outside right as well as the inside.

He would agree that if you smile more you will be happier on the inside. If you have good posture in your body it will help you be more upright in your soul. If you dress well you will feel well. If you have good manners on the outside you will be more respectful of others on the inside too.

Therefore his final advice for those who want to be humble is, “If you want to be humble act humble.”

Of course the outward actions on their own will not be sufficient, for Benedict knows that true lowliness of heart can only be achieved as the soul is infused with the divine life. Then as the Divine Life fills the soul all the outward actions will become the inner condition. Then the monk will be able to “run in the way of God’s commandments, his heart overflowing with an indescribable delight of love.”

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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