The Third Degree of Humility.
1. Accepto. I will receive with joy all unpleasant things which I must bear : (a) pain,
sickness, heat, cold, food ; (b) house, employment, rules, customs ; (c) trials of religious life, companions ; (d) reprimands, humiliations ; (e) anything which is a cross.
2. Volo et desidero. I will wish and desire that these things may happen to me, that so I may resemble my Jesus more.
3. Eligo. With all my might I will strive every day agere contra in omnibus : (a) against my faults ; (b) against my own will ; (c) against my ease and comfort ; (d) against the desires of the body ; (e) against my habit and inclination of performing my duties negligently and without fervour.
COMMENT: Today’s text from Fr Doyle comes from his notes on the Long Retreat in the autumn of 1907. This retreat was to have a profound influence on his life; everything that came after, including his sacrifices in the trenches, seem to be fruits of the seeds that were planted on this retreat.
In these notes, Fr Doyle reflects on St Ignatius’ meditation on the three types of humility, which is placed during the second week of the Spiritual Exercises. The full text from Ignatius is as follows:
Third Humility. The third is most perfect Humility; namely, when…in order to imitate and be more actually like Christ our Lord, I want and choose poverty with Christ poor rather than riches, opprobrium with Christ replete with it rather than honors; and to desire to be rated as worthless and a fool for Christ, Who first was held as such, rather than wise or prudent in this world.
Fr Doyle shows us a way in which we can attempt to reach this degree of humility, namely by acting agere contra in omnibus – against myself in all things. This was the basis of Fr Doyle’s spirituality, and it is crucial to remember that the hero of the trenches was not born that way – he made himself strong and courageous, with God’s grace, by acting against himself in small things every day.
The benefits of this spiritual discipline can help us not only in spiritual terms but in human terms as well. The Jesuit Walter Ciszek, who suffered greatly for the faith in prison camps in Siberia and elsewhere in Russia, reports in his own memoirs that it was his own daily discipline in denying himself that helped him prepare for long years of deprivation, solitude and hard work.