Holy Fathers and Teachers of the Church on Humility


Prayer is grace. God gives it when there exists zeal and humility… Let Christ not be missing from your heart. Elder Amphilochios of Patmos

The most easy, brief and safe path to heaven is humility. This is the only safe and undangerous path. Elder Joseph the Hesychast

All Saints through humility were elevated, honored, glorified, made wondrous and sanctified by God. If you take away humility no one would be a Saint. Elder Joseph the Hesychast

Inner and real humility is for one to feel, that whatever he has, life, health, wealth, wisdom all are foreign, are gifts of God. Elder Joseph the Hesychast

The only hope of salvation from the delusions and the heresies, the innovations and the traps of wicked people and of the devil is prayer, repentance and humility. Elder Joseph the Hesychast

The more a man is found worthy to receive God's gifts, the more he ought to consider himself a debtor to God, who has raised him from the earth and bestowed on dust the privilege of imitating to some degree its Creator and God. For to endure injustice with joy, patiently to do good to one's enemies, to lay down one's own life for one's neighbor, and so on, are gifts from God, bestowed on those who are resolved to receive them from Him through their solicitude in cultivating and protecting what has been entrusted to them, as Adam was commanded to do. St. Peter of Damascus

"The Lord does not forbid us to desire to become His favorites, for He wants us to desire advancement in the spiritual life. But He does not want us to grasp for honors and privileges, but rather to acquire the heights by humility." Blessed Theophylact, commenting on Mark 9:33-41

Paul writes, 'I know of nothing against myself, yet I am not justified by this' (1 Cor. 4:4). You see he does not exalt himself, but humbles and abases himself in every way, and that just when he had reached the summit. And the Three Children were in the fire, in the midst of the furnace, and what did they say? 'For we have sinned and transgressed by departing from You; and we have done evil in every way' (Dan. 3:29). This is what it is to have a contrite heart. St. John Chrysostom

If the grace of God comes, everyone and everything changes; however, in order for it to come, we must humble ourselves first. Elder Porphyrios

If you are enclosed within yourself through prayer, humility, and mourning, you will find a spiritual treasure - only let pride and criticism be far from you. Elder Ephraim of Philotheou

May you love one another and not be embittered by reason of egotism. Humility is a sure guide; it does not allow the one who has it to strike against the reefs of carelessness and be crushed, but as a luminous guide it leads faultlessly to safety. Ephraim of Philotheou

I think the quality needed is a certain deep humility of mind that enables one to accept other ways of looking at things, other emphases, as equally Orthodox with one's own. Fr. Seraphim Rose

“Know thyself”: this is true humility, the humility that teaches us to be inwardly humble and makes our heart contrite. Such humility you must cultivate and guard. For if you do not yet know yourself you cannot know what humility is, and have not yet embarked truly on the task of cultivating and guarding. To know oneself is the goal of the practice of the virtues. Nikitas Stithatos in The Philokalia

Reading and spiritual knowledge are good, but only when they lead to greater humility. St. Peter of Damaskos

True humility does not say humble words, nor does it assume humble looks, it does not force oneself either to think humbly of oneself, or to abuse oneself in self-belittlement. Although all such things are the beginning, the manifestations and the various aspects of humility, humility itself is grace, given from above. There are two kinds of humility, as the holy fathers teach: to deem oneself the lowest of all beings and to ascribe to God all one's good actions. The first is the beginning, the second the end. St. Gregory of Sinai

Make account that thou hast done nothing, and then thou hast done all. For if, being sinners, when we account ourselves to be what we are, we become righteous, as indeed the Publican did; how much more, when being righteous we account ourselves to be sinners. St. John Chrysostom

Meekness and humility of heart are virtues without which it is impossible to inherit the Heavenly Kingdom, to be happy on earth, or to experience inner calm. Counsels of Venerable St. Antony of Optina

No man, wise in his own opinion, because he has studied all the sciences and is learned in external wisdom, will ever penetrate God's mysteries or see them unless he first humbles himself and becomes foolish in his heart, repudiating his self-opinion together with the acquirements of learning. St. Simeon the New Theologian

Man, as far as his body is concerned, is like a lighted candle. A candle must be consumed; thus also the body must die. But the soul is immortal, and so our care also must be more for the soul than for the body. 'For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul'. St. Seraphim of Sarov

Nothing else extinguishes passions so much as compassion. On the other hand, if someone struggles as a result of vainglory or with the idea that he is applying himself to virtue, he is not struggling with knowledge. He, though, who abstains with knowledge does not think he is exercising virtue, neither does he want to be commended as an ascetic, but believes that by way of abstinence prudence is obtained and that through this, comes humility. Abba Dorotheos

Our humility is our surest intercessor before the face of the Lord. It is by dint of humility and penance that the last shall be first. St. Macarius of Optina

Our prayer begins to be of value only when grace comes. As long as we have only the natural fruits of prayer, what we achieve is valueless, both in itself and in the judgement of God. For the coming of grace is the sign that God has looked on us in mercy. St. Thalassius

Pointing out that man has nothing of which to be proud, the Elder added "Actually, what does man have to crow about? A ragged, wretched beggar cries out for alms: 'Have Mercy! Have Mercy!' But as to whether he will be shown mercy, who knows?" St. Amvrossy of Optina


Pray Simply. Do not expect to find in your heart any remarkable gift of prayer Consider yourself unworthy of it-then you will find peace. Use the empty, cold dryness of your prayer as food for your humility. Repeat constantly: "I am not worthy, Lord, I am not worthy!" But say it calmly, without agitation. This humble prayer will be acceptable to God. St. Macarius of Optina





Source: http://www.orthodox.net/gleanings/humility.html

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