The Little Flowers of St. Francis, tr. by W. Heywood, , at sacred-texts.com
NO man may come unto any knowledge and understanding of God save through the virtue of holy humility; for the same straight way which goeth upwards is also that which goeth downwards. All the dangers and the great falls, which have happened in this world, have come from no other cause than the uplifting of the head, to wit of the mind, in pride; and this is proved by the fall of the devil who was cast out of Heaven, and by the fall of our first parent, to wit Adam, who was cast out of Paradise for the uplifting of his head, to wit for disobedience; and also by the Pharisee, of whom Christ speaks in the Gospel, and by many other ensamples: and so likewise, on the contrary, all the great benefits, which ever befel in this world, proceeded from the lowering of the head, to wit from the humbling of the mind; as is proved by the blessed most humble Virgin Mary, and by the Publican, and by the holy Thief upon the Cross, and by many other ensamples in the Scriptures. And therefore would it be well if we could find some great and heavy weight which we might keep continually tied to the neck, so that it might alway drag us down, to wit that it might ever make us humble. A friar asked of Friar Giles: "Tell me, father, in what manner may we flee from this pride?" Whereto Friar Giles replied: "My brother, be thou sure of this, to wit, that never wilt thou learn how to flee from pride until thou first put thy mouth where now thou hast thy feet; but if thou considerest well the benefits of God, then thou wilt know well that for duty's sake thou art bound to bow thy head. And again, if thou wilt give good thought to thy
shortcomings and to the many offences which thou hast committed against God, thou wilt have great cause to humble thyself. But woe unto those which desire to be honoured for their wickedness! One degree of humility is in that man who knoweth himself to be the adversary of his own good. One degree of humility is to render unto another the things that are his and not to appropriate them to oneself; that is to say that every good thing and every virtue which a man findeth in himself he ought not to attribute unto himself, but to God alone, from whom cometh every grace and every virtue and every good thing; but every sin and every desire of the soul or whatsoever vice a man findeth in himself, he ought to attribute to himself, considering that it cometh from himself and of his own wickedness and not from others. Blessed is the man who knoweth himself and accounteth himself vile in the sight of God, and so also before men! Blessed is he who alway judgeth himself and condemneth himself, and not another; for he shall not be judged by that terrible and last eternal judgment. Blessed is he who shalt go diligently under the yoke of obedience and under the governance of others, even as did the Apostles both before and after they received the Holy Ghost!" Also Friar Giles said: "It behoves him who would gain and possess perfect peace and rest to account every man his superior, and it behoves him always to acknowledge himself subject and inferior to all. Blessed is that man who desireth neither to be seen nor known in his words or ways, save only in that simple form and in that artless adornment wherewith God adorned and formed him! Blessed is that man who knoweth how to keep and to hide the Divine revelations and consolations! for there is no thing so secret that God reveals it not when it
seemeth good unto Him. If a man were the most perfect and the most holy man in the world,- and accounted himself and believed himself the most miserable sinner and the vilest man in the world, in this man would be true humility. Holy humility knoweth not how to talk, and the blessed fear of God knoweth not how to speak". Said Friar Giles: "Unto me it seemeth that humility is like unto a thunderbolt; for even as the thunder-bolt striketh a terrible blow, breaking, splintering and burning that which it encounters, and afterward naught can be found of that thunder-bolt; even so humility in like manner strikes and scatters and burns and consumes every wickedness and every vice and every sin; and afterward it is found to be nothing in itself. That man who possesseth humility, through humility findeth grace with God, and perfect peace with his neighbour".