How to Foster the Important Virtue of Humility

by Matthew Chicoine
"The three most important virtues are humility, humility, and humility." - Saint Bernard of Clairvaux
In a world that often celebrates self-promotion and self-importance, the virtue of humility shines as a beacon of light and grace. Humility is an important virtue to foster on the journey towards holiness. In this article, we will explore the essence of humility, drawing inspiration from biblical examples and practical ways to incorporate this virtue into our lives.

Defining Humility: The Foundational Virtue

Humility, as defined in Catholic teaching, is the recognition of one's own unworthiness in the presence of a higher power. It is a profound acknowledgment of our finite nature and an expression of reverence and recognition of God as our creator.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church, in section 2559, beautifully articulates the connection between humility and prayer. It states that prayer is the act of raising one's mind and heart to God or the humble request for His blessings. True prayer emanates not from pride and self-will but from the depths of a humble and contrite heart. Jesus taught in Luke 1814, "He who humbles himself will be exalted." Humility is the foundation of prayer. When we humbly admit that we do not know how to pray as we ought, we become receptive to the gift of prayer. We become beggars before God, recognizing our utter dependence on Him.

Biblical Examples of Humility: Lessons from Saints

The Humility of Saint John
Saint John the Baptist, the herald of the Messiah, stands as a remarkable model of humility. Despite his pivotal role in preparing the way for Jesus, he always acknowledged the increasing significance of Jesus over himself. His words, "He must increase, but I must decrease" (John 3:30), exemplify a humble surrender to God's plan.

The Blessed Virgin Mary: An Epitome of Humility
St. Louis de Montfort described the humility of the Blessed Virgin Mary when he said, "What Lucifer lost by pride, Mary won by humility." Mary's fiat, her resounding "yes" to God's plan, reflects profound humility. She submitted herself entirely to God's will in becoming the Mother of Jesus. Her "yes" shows us the way to embrace God's purpose for our lives.

Jesus: The Ultimate Model of Humility
The ultimate example of humility is found in Jesus Christ Himself. He served, washed His disciples' feet, healed the sick, and cared for the oppressed. He obeyed His earthly parents, Mary and Joseph, and ultimately endured the excruciating humiliation of crucifixion for our salvation.

Nurturing Humility in Our Lives

Now that we've explored the essence of humility through biblical examples, let's consider practical ways to cultivate this virtue in our daily lives.

Obey the Fourth Commandment
Obeying the fourth commandment, which calls us to honor our parents, provides a simple yet powerful way to grow in humility. Just as Jesus obeyed Mary and Joseph, our obedience to our parents fosters humility and aligns us with God's plan for loving our neighbor.

Reflect on God as Your Creator
Remembering that God is the Creator of the universe and we are His creatures helps us maintain a humble perspective. Through baptism, we are adopted into God's family, which underscores our dependence on Him.

Practice Gratitude
Humility and gratitude are closely intertwined. Pride often stems from entitlement, while humility emerges from recognizing everything as a gift. Cultivate gratitude for the gift of life, clothing, food, friends, and every blessing bestowed upon you.

Seek Inspiration from the Saints
Saints, through their virtuous lives, serve as exemplars of humility. Consider the prayers and writings of saints like Teresa of Ávila and Saint Francis of Assisi to gain insight into their deep humility and unwavering trust in God.

Teresa of Ávila's famous prayer, "Let nothing disturb you... God alone suffices," is a powerful reminder of her recognition of God as the ultimate source of everything and her complete dependence on Him.

Embracing humility as a virtue is not a sign of weakness but a testament to our profound understanding of our relationship with God. Through biblical examples, practical steps, and the inspiration of saints, we can journey toward greater humility. Thus, drawing closer to God and embracing a more meaningful and fulfilling life. As we humbly acknowledge our dependence on God, we find the strength to live virtuous, compassionate, and purposeful lives, reflecting the very essence of Christ Himself.

Matthew Chicoine is a left-handed cradle Catholic who enjoys reading everything Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, Chesterton and is also an avid comic book fan. He is married to his wife Jennifer and has four children. Matthew’s favorite saints include Athanasius, Catherine of Siena, Teresa of Avila, Philip Neri and John of the Cross. Discover more of his Catholic content by visiting: