Humility of Heart
Fr. Cajetan Mary da Bergamo
Translation by Herbert Cardinal Vaughn,
Archbishop of Westminister, England 1903
TAN BOOKS AND PUBLISHERS
Thoughts and Sentiments on Humility Part 10
54. O my soul, humble thyself in the remembrance that there is a Hell, not considering it only in the abstract, nor even as a contrivance for the punishment of sinners in general, but regard it rather as a place specially prepared for thyself, and deserved by thee more than once!
For there the proud will be cast headlong, and I should be there with them at this moment, eternally insulted and tormented by devils, had I not been preserved therefrom by the mercy of God. Millions of Angels have been imprisoned there for having committed one sole sin of pride and that only in thought. Ah, my soul, continue thus in thy pride and thy false self-esteem, guarding thy own susceptibilities and oblivious of the rights of others, and "thou shalt be brought down to Hell;" that place of torment awaits thee, and there below thy pride shall indeed be humbled. Thou who delightest now in thy own proud thoughts shalt there be thrust into flames of fire, and thou who now wishest to be above all shalt then be below all. For there below thou wilt have to face a God Who bears an infinite hatred to the proud and is infinitely angry with them. And as it is a truth that the humble shall be exalted in Heaven, it is also a truth that the proud shall be humbled and cast down into Hell.
"And the rich man also died"; thus writes St. Luke of a proud man who was "clothed in purple and fine linen." And the rich man died-----that is the end of all humanity and vanity; and "he was buried in Hell" [Luke xvi, 22] -----that is the end of all pride. The grave is the end of man; Hell is the end of the proud.
55. But above all the thought of eternity should keep us humble. Taking it for granted that I am mistaken in practicing humility in this world, and in giving place to others, I know that my mistake is small because everything below comes quickly to an end; but if I am deceiving myself by living in reckless pride, my mistake is great because it will last for all eternity. But even if I am living in humility, I must still fear because I can never be sure whether this humility which I think I possess is true humility or not; how much more then should I fear if I am living in open pride? So be it, O my soul! satisfy all thy proud desires: be thou esteemed, praised and honored by all the world; possess knowledge, riches and pleasure without adversity, without opposition, without any obstacles to trouble thee or restrain thy vicious passions. And then? And then? I pray thee in this to imitate the proud Nabuchodonosor, who even in the fulness of his power thought of "what should come to pass hereafter." [Dan. ii, 29] All is vanity that hath an end; and we are doomed to enter into that eternity which hath no end; therefore what will be the end of the vanity of thy pride? The most ignominious humiliation:. and most bitter lamentations that will last for ever and ever.
On this side the grave all things pass away, but on the other side what will become of me? Quid futurum post hæc? To this I give no thought; and to speak the truth this is the reason why I am dominated by vanity, because I give so little thought to eternity. King David was most humble of heart because he he was filled with the dread of eternity: "And I meditate in the night with my own heart: Will God then cast off for ever." [Ps. lxxvi, 7, 8] Whenever the world offers thee honors, fame and pleasure, remember, my soul, to say within thyself: And then? And then? "Remember what things have been before thee." [Ecclus xli, 5]
How many of those who were conspicuous amongst the proud of this world have overcome their pride and acquired humility by one single serious thought of eternity! The words of the prophet have always been and will always be found true: "And the ancient mountains were crushed to pieces, the hills of the world were bowed down by the journeys of His eternity." [Hab. iii, 6]