It’s Up to Humility

The Hard Ascent to a Bewildering Virtue

Among the imperatives of the Christian moral life, I wonder if any is the occasion of more bewilderment than the call to be humble. This impression arises not only from my own experience of the problem but also from the many times other Christians have asked me, “How can I learn humility?”

If humility were simply one of the moral virtues—as it is often treated—its acquisition would be rather simple, I think. A person would first define humility, as an ideal, and then bring his conduct, as far as possible, into conformity with that ideal. This is, after all, the way someone attains other moral virtues, such as justice and prudence. We have always known, from the time of Aristotle, that a person attains justice and prudence by acting justly and prudently.

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Patrick Henry Reardon is pastor emeritus of All Saints Antiochian Orthodox Church in Chicago, Illinois, and the author of numerous books, including, most recently, Out of Step with God: Orthodox Christian Reflections on the Book of Numbers (Ancient Faith Publishing, 2019).

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