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The Way Of Humility (Monastic Wisdom Series) Paperback – July 1, 2007
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It can be read by a beginner. And it becomes more and more necessary, as well more and more understandable, as you grow older and (hopefully) wiser. I'd like to say "as you progress on the path" - but as this book makes clear "progression" may feel more like regression.
So what's so important in this book? While slim in size, it provides the key, the central task, of any spiritual path: Humility. But not a "humility" one can set out to emulate or attain. What Father Louf makes clear is that humility is a state. A state of grace. A gift. But a gift that feels painful: the painful awareness of one's own limitations. A state arrived at through - this is key - experiences of failure, the sense of a heart crushed with sorrow, a soul bowed down, feelings of emptiness, longing, neediness - the awareness that one cannot by oneself arrive at a purified heart. But that one cries out, as it were, from one's sense of utter incapacity, one's utter spiritual desolation and need. Till gradually, mysteriously, this leads to inner transformations. Without end... (As TS Eliot wrote: "The only wisdom we can hope to acquire is the wisdom of humility / Humility is endless")
I'm sure I've put this poorly. So read the book! I beg of you. If your soul yearns for spiritual union with your Heart's Desire.
Andre Louf is one of a very few modern spiritual writers who are both accessible and grounded in classical spirituality. Others I can recommend are Ruth Burrows, Sister Wendy, and Jean Marie Howe.
One is the origin of the word "humility" in the Latin word for nutrient matter in the soil.
Another gem is Louf's observation that humility is counter-cultural these days. He notes that it is seen as a character weakness by most of the fathers of modern psychology.
Louf points out that pride and humility are mutually exclusive and that true humility is often a cry for help.
"It is there, at the center of the crisis ... that a true humility, like a gift from the Spirit, is born," Louf writes.
Far from being an action one takes for others to see, humility is a condition that comes through life's toughest trials.
To make that point, Louf quotes St. Bernard: "God prefers a repentant sinner to a self-righteous virgin."
The second half of the book is a collection of texts on humility, beginning with scripture and ending with St. Bernard's writings in the 12th century.
As our economy falls apart and crises comes home, this little book offers insight into the positives that attend such a crisis. In short, few people seek humility. Instead, the circumstances of life often impose it.