The essence of liberation from prelest is the acquisition of humility.

On the Essence of Humility

Professor N. E. Pestov. "The Modern Practice of Orthodox virtue".

Chapter 22. The Essence of Humility.

Professor N.E. Pestov

Humility is the garment of divinity.

Ven. Isaac the Syrian

God comes mostly to simplicity and humility.

Ven. John Climacus

On the basis of poverty in spirit, the virtue of humility – as a gift of God – arises and begins to grow in the Christian.

What is humility? John Climacus, the hegumen of Mount Sinai, asked this question to many spiritual fathers. In response to this question, St. John got a range of definitions of humility from the elders.

One of them said: “Humility is constant forgetfulness of one's achievements”. Another said: “It is the admission that in all the world one is the least important and is also the greatest sinner”. A third said: “It is the mind's awareness that one is weak and helpless”. A fourth said: “It is the disposition of a contrite soul and the abdication of one's own will” etc.

But none of the obtained definitions satisfied St. John, and he gave his own response to this question: “Humility is a grace in the soul and with a name known only to those who have had experience of it. It is indescribable wealth, a name and a gift from God”.

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Humility of the Man is a Measure of His Spiritual Growth

Letters of hegumen Nikon (Vorobyov) to spiritual children.

Hegumen Nikon (Vorobyov)

Letter 192.

Dear ... ,

Peace and mercy from God be with you and S. I have received your letter. You have not written about your condition for a long time. I am glad of what you write about, if you really experience what you describe. Often, people describe only their dreams or something they have read or heard from somebody. What is described by you necessarily happens with every person properly going the spiritual way. Save you soul, work, pray, maintain peace with everybody, judge nobody, but have pity for everybody, do not judge those who sin openly, but sigh about them to God, so that He absolves them and instructs them for salvation.

Humility of the man is a measure of his spiritual growth. The higher is the man in his spirit, the humbler he is. And vice versa, the humbler is the man, the higher he is. Not prayer rules, not bows, not fasting, not reading of God's Word, but humility makes the man closer to God. Without humility, all, even the greatest, labours do not make good, and can even ruin the man. And nowadays one can see that if a person prays a little more, reads Psalms sometimes, observes fasting – and already he considers himself to be higher than others, disapproves his neighbours, begins to teach, when nobody asks for it etc., and so he demonstrates his spiritual emptiness and departure from God “into a far country”. Fear a high opinion or yourself.

Jesus Christ said that even if you have done all those things which are commanded you (i. e. fulfilled everything according to the commandments), believe you to be unprofitable servants that have done that which was their duty to do. And salvation is a gift of God to the humble and the people with a broken heart. Thus, we should ask God for humility. Humility cannot be combined with judgment of our neighbours and sensitivity to offense. If we judge others or take offence, when others somehow offend us, we have no humility. Saint ascetics sincerely thanked those who offended and insulted them. Because they learnt humility by way of tolerating offences. Our Lady said that God had chosen Her for Her humility. The Saviour Himself calls everybody to learn humility from Him; not fasting, not prayer, even not loving neighbours, but humility. Only through humility the man becomes one in God, who humbled himself to spits, buffets and the death on the Cross. Needless to say that we should do our best to fulfill all the commandments as well, but I repeat once again that they do no good or do harm without humility. Understand me correctly.

Let God instruct you! Let God deliver you from cunning of visible and invisible enemies. They have become too cunning. Regards to S. God's blessings upon you.

On the Greatest Humility of the Mother of God

Archimandrite Cleopa (Ilie). On Humility of the Mother of God.

(translation from Russian)

…after I have cited these witnesses from the Scripture concerning humility of some of the saints, I believe, it would be good and very useful for us to dare to speak about the greatest humility of the Queen of all the saints, i. e. about humility of the Most Pure and Blessed Virgin Mary. But first of all, I believe, it would be good to consider whether there is anybody else among rational creatures — among men and Angels — who has merited such great spiritual gifts as the Most Pure and Blessed Virgin Mary.

Truly, there is no other creature of God, on earth as well as in Heaven, who would reach such glory and such gifts, as the Most Pure and Blessed Mother of God. At the beginning, God told of Her to our forbearers Adam and Eve and revealed them that salvation would be made and the head of the serpent would be bruised through Her (see Gen. 3: 15). The Holy Spirit, by the mouth of the great prophet Isaiah, pointed at Her, that She would be the Virgin that would give birth to Immanuel (see Isaiah 7: 14); the Holy Spirit pointed at Her, that She would sit as the beautiful Queen decorated with rich gifts upon the right hand of God (see Ps. 45: 10). Elisabeth, the mother of John, the glorious Prophet, Forerunner and Baptist of our Lord, knelt to Her and blessed Her, calling Her the Mother of the Lord (see Lk. 1: 43). She is the Mother and the Most Pure Virgin, and all generations shall call Her blessed (see Lk. 1: 48), She has found favour with God (see Lk. 1: 30). It was foretold about Her that She would remain Virgin even after giving birth (see Isaiah 7: 14).

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