Gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.
~ GK Chesterton

Friday, June 26, 2015

Humility and Tolerance

St. Josemaria's 17 Signs of a Lack of Humility showed up in my Facebook feed.  The person who shared it commented, "I've got work to do."  I chuckled at that, clicked on the link, and wondered how many of the seventeen signs would speak to me.  The page loaded.  Ouch.  Indeed, I have work to do, too!

1. Thinking that what you do or say is better than what others do or say
2. Always wanting to get your own way
3. Arguing when you are not right or — when you are — insisting stubbornly or with bad manners
4. Giving your opinion without being asked for it, when charity does not demand you to do so
5. Despising the point of view of others
6. Not being aware that all the gifts and qualities you have are on loan
7. Not acknowledging that you are unworthy of all honour or esteem, even the ground you are treading on or the things you own
8. Mentioning yourself as an example in conversation
9. Speaking badly about yourself, so that they may form a good opinion of you, or contradict you
10. Making excuses when rebuked
11. Hiding some humiliating faults from your director, so that he may not lose the good opinion he has of you
12. Hearing praise with satisfaction, or being glad that others have spoken well of you
13. Being hurt that others are held in greater esteem than you
14. Refusing to carry out menial tasks
15. Seeking or wanting to be singled out
16. Letting drop words of self-praise in conversation, or words that might show your honesty, your wit or skill, your professional prestige…
17. Being ashamed of not having certain possessions…

This list provides an examination of conscience that is truly universal.  While the Christian aspires to humility, is it not true that most people of good will, Christian or not, desire to live in harmony with others?  St. Josemaria's list applies to all people of good will. 

Imagine re-writing it slightly and calling it "17 Signs of a Lack of Tolerance" and you'll see what I mean.  It works!  Tolerance is one of those secular-society 'virtues', in which the more you flaunt the word, the less likely you seem to actually practice acceptance of others.  I say that, having experience as both flaunt-er and recipient of secular 'tolerance.'

Back in that shady past of mine, I considered myself a pillar of tolerance, but I failed at a great number of the 17 items listed.  I didn't understand that, when I was aspiring to tolerance, it was really humility I was wishing for, even though I couldn't have defined it as such.  The way I would describe a humble person, speaking through the lens of a practicing Catholic, is on par with how I would have described the admirable characteristics of a person I would have labeled 'tolerant' back in my secular days.

Why do I bring this up at all?  I wish everyone would engage in an examination of conscience.  As a Catholic, such a thing reminds me of where I fall short in living a virtuous life.  When I was very secular, I would have been intellectually honest enough to admit, if I'd come across such a list, that my actual practice of tolerance often fell flat because of both my pride and my lack of charity towards others.

And that's as political as I am going to get here.

St. Josemaria, pray for us!  Happy Feast Day!

St. Josemaria Feast Day

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