Saint Benedict writes about humility in the rule right after chapters on obedience and on restraint of speech. He knows that it is impossible to advance in any spiritual life without being rooted in the solid foundations of humility. Throughout the years, I have learned again and again to recognize someone as truly spiritual not by their outer gifts and talents, but by their profound humility: the type of humility where little is left of the self and only the light of God shines through the person. When one is given the grace to encounter such individuals, and they are indeed very rare, one is left with a profound sense of the presence of God.
In the seventh step of humility, Saint Benedict invites us to go one step deeper into the practice of humility, not just paying lip service to it, but admitting to ourselves our misery and nothingness, the fact that we are useless servants of no value at all. Saint Benedict invites us to rejoice in this fact and encourages us to wish that others will see us as such, and not as something we are not. It is when we become nothing in our own eyes and in the eyes of others that God turns himself towards us in mercy and finds his true pleasure in us.
In the Magnificant, which we sing daily at Vespers, Our Lady affirms this spiritual truth: Because He has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant, the Almighty has done great things for me. A bit letter she adds: He has scattered the proud in their conceit, he has cast down the mighty from their thrones, and he has lifted up the lowly. If we are indeed serious about pleasing God, about becoming his instruments, we must strive always for the last place in all things: what Charles de Foucauld would call the “dear last place.”
Brother Victor-Antonie d’Avila-Latourrette
Blessings of the Daily, A Monastic Book of Days