Fifth Step of Humility

The fifth step of humility is that a man does not conceal from his abbot any sinful thoughts entering his heart, to any wrongs committed in secret, but rather confesses them humbly. Rule of St. Benedict

Traditionally, a young monk who enters a monastery is put under the care of a spiritual father, either the abbot himself or another older spiritual teacher.  The spiritual father forms, directs, and transmits to the new novice the principles of the monastic life.  Further, the spiritual father has the delicate task of generating the inner life of the neophyte monk.  This implies great trust on the part of both the spiritual father and the spiritual son.  But it is impossible, in the eyes of Saint Benedict, to arrive to this level of profound mutual trust without first acquiring great humility of heart.  The novice must look at the spiritual father as someone standing in the Lord’s place, and open the innermost sentiments of his heart.  A wise spiritual father is there not to judge, but to engender the life of the Spirit in his spiritual son.  The spiritual son, on his part, with a humble attitude and without fear, can communicate to the father all that is within him, no matter how wicked or sinful it may seem.  This step is absolutely necessary if the new monk is going to make any progress in the spiritual life.

What is applicable to the new monastic aspirant is also applicable to anyone who wishes to grow in the spiritual life. We all need to open ourselves with sincere humility, either to a spiritual father or mother or to a confessor or a director, in order to be shown the light and the path that we must follow. As a result, those receiving this guidance shall experience a strengthening of their spiritual life and acquire a deep peace.

Brother Victor-Antoine d’Avila-Latourrette
Blessings of the Daily, A Monastic Book of Days

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