The first step of humility is that a man keeps the fear of God always before his eyes and never forgets it. He must constantly remember everything God has commanded, keeping in mind that all who despise God will burn in hell for their sins, and all who fear God have everlasting life awaiting them. (Rule of St. Benedict)
Saint Benedict took Lent so seriously that he dedicated an entire chapter of his rule to the subject. Further, he declared that “the life of a monk ought to have always the character of a Lenten observance.” For Saint Benedict, Lent is the season that mirrors most exactly what the life of the monk should be at all times.
Keeping in mind Saint Benedict’s views on Lent, I decided during this holy season to concentrate on reading and meditating seriously on what Saint Benedict wrote in Chapter 7 of his rule. The chapter is dedicated entirely to humility, which obviously connects to the attitude or spirit we must seek to cultivate during Lent.
Humility’s first step, as enunciated by Saint Benedict, seems clear and evident. It is a basic principle of all spiritual life. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. It is also one of the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit. Benedict makes us realize that God knows each of us through and through and that nothing escapes from his eyes. To him, we are like an open book where he can read every word, every line, every sentence. Humility’s first step teaches us how to live in God’s holy presence: in spirit of a humble repentance for our shortcomings and weaknesses, and in a spirit of gratitude for God’s infinite patience with each of us.
Brother Victor-Antoine d’Avil-Latourrette
Blessings of the Daily: A Monastic Book of Days