Humility

As we prepare to celebrate the feast of St Mary Magdalene, Protectress of the Order of Preachers, it might be apropos to ponder a little on the humility and love of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. After all, it was St Mary Magdalene who was really the first to understand why Christ had come into the world: to redeem men and forgive sins.

The devotion to the Sacred Heart is not just an optional devotion – it is the very heart of our holy religion. Religion, as St Thomas reminds us, is a virtue that creates a bond between man and God. It is the adoration and thanksgiving that we offer and direct to Him. In nearly all Her prayers, Holy Church puts the words “per Dominum Jesum Christum” on our lips. Christ is our mediator. And it is His Heart that is the channel through which our weak and wavering love flows, in order to transform our love and make it pure and pleasing to God. 

The Sacred Heart teaches us how to think and live. When we ask, as in the conclusion of the Litany of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, to be made “meek and humble of heart,” we are asking for the means of uniting our hearts and wills to God’s, just as Our Lord’s Heart and Will was always united to His Father’s.  

Fr GarrigouLagrange says that “these two words, humility of heart and meekness, sum up the whole Christian life and the whole of perfection.” Developing this thought, he continues, “humility is the root of all Christian virtues, and meekness is its flower… humility produces in us an emptiness that God fills with Himself.”  

Candlemas Day c.1901 Marianne Stokes 1855-1927

Of course, humility belongs to Our Lord in His sacred humanity; his divinity cannot be humble because dependence on and submission to God are the characteristics of humility. This humility of His humanity consisted in Him being entirely subject to God, and in being entirely assumed by the Person of the Son of God – so much so that Christ the human being had no human personality, for his “personality” was the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity. 

This then, is the pattern for our humility – that Christ be formed in us to the point that when people encounter us, they meet Christ through us, and that He may shine through us, so that we may say with St Paul, “I live, no not I, but Christ liveth in me.” 

Mary Magdalene and the Madonna, detail from The Deposition from the Cross or the Altarpiece of the Holy Trinity, ca 1432, by Fra Angelico (1400-ca 1455)

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