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St. Thomas Aquinas
Summa Theologica

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  • SECOND PART
    • Aquin.: SMT SS Q[1] Out. Para. 1/4 - SECOND PART OF THE SECOND PART (SS) (QQ[1]-189)
      • Aquin.: SMT SS Q[161] Out. Para. 1/2 - OF HUMILITY (SIX ARTICLES)
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Aquin.: SMT SS Q[161] Out. Para. 1/2 - OF HUMILITY (SIX ARTICLES)

We must consider next the species of modesty: (1) Humility, and pride
which is opposed to it; (2) Studiousness, and its opposite, Curiosity;
(3) Modesty as affecting words or deeds; (4) Modesty as affecting outward
attire.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[161] Out. Para. 2/2

Concerning humility there are six points of inquiry:

(1) Whether humility is a virtue?
(2) Whether it resides in the appetite, or in the judgment of reason?

(3) Whether by humility one ought to subject oneself to all men?

(4) Whether it is a part of modesty or temperance?

(5) Of its comparison with the other virtues;

(6) Of the degrees of humility.


Aquin.: SMT SS Q[161] A[1] Thes. Para. 1/1

Whether humility is a virtue?

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[161] A[1] Obj. 1 Para. 1/1

OBJ 1: It would seem that humility is not a virtue. For virtue conveys
the notion of a penal evil, according to Ps. 104:18, "They humbled his
feet in fetters." Therefore humility is not a virtue.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[161] A[1] Obj. 2 Para. 1/1

OBJ 2: Further, virtue and vice are mutually opposed. Now humility
seemingly denotes a vice, for it is written (Ecclus. 19:23): "There is
one that humbleth himself wickedly." Therefore humility is not a virtue.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[161] A[1] Obj. 3 Para. 1/1

OBJ 3: Further, no virtue is opposed to another virtue. But humility is
apparently opposed to the virtue of magnanimity, which aims at great
things, whereas humility shuns them. Therefore it would seem that
humility is not a virtue.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[161] A[1] Obj. 4 Para. 1/1

OBJ 4: Further, virtue is "the disposition of that which is perfect"
(Phys. vii, text. 17). But humility seemingly belongs to the imperfect:
wherefore it becomes not God to be humble, since He can be subject to
none. Therefore it seems that humility is not a virtue.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[161] A[1] Obj. 5 Para. 1/1

OBJ 5: Further, every moral virtue is about actions and passions,
according to Ethic. ii, 3. But humility is not reckoned by the
Philosopher among the virtues that are about passions, nor is it
comprised under justice which is about actions. Therefore it would seem
not to be a virtue.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[161] A[1] OTC Para. 1/1

On the contrary, Origen commenting on Lk. 1:48, "He hath regarded the
humility of His handmaid," says (Hom. viii in Luc.): "One of the virtues,
humility, is particularly commended in Holy Writ; for our Saviour said:
'Learn of Me, because I am meek, and humble of heart.'"

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[161] A[1] Body Para. 1/1

I answer that, As stated above (FS, Q[23], A[2]) when we were treating
of the passions, the difficult good has something attractive to the
appetite, namely the aspect of good, and likewise something repulsive to
the appetite, namely the difficulty of obtaining it. In respect of the
former there arises the movement of hope, and in respect of the latter,
the movement of despair. Now it has been stated above (FS, Q[61], A[2])
that for those appetitive movements which are a kind of impulse towards
an object, there is need of a moderating and restraining moral virtue,
while for those which are a kind of recoil, there is need, on the part
of the appetite, of a moral virtue to strengthen it and urge it on.
Wherefore a twofold virtue is necessary with regard to the difficult
good: one, to temper and restrain the mind, lest it tend to high things
immoderately; and this belongs to the virtue of humility: and another to
strengthen the mind against despair, and urge it on to the pursuit of
great things according to right reason; and this is magnanimity.
Therefore it is evident that humility is a virtue.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[161] A[1] R.O. 1 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 1: As Isidore observes (Etym. x), "a humble man is so called
because he is, as it were, 'humo acclinis'" [*Literally, 'bent to the
ground'], i.e. inclined to the lowest place. This may happen in two ways.
First, through an extrinsic principle, for instance when one is cast down
by another, and thus humility is a punishment. Secondly, through an
intrinsic principle: and this may be done sometimes well, for instance
when a man, considering his own failings, assumes the lowest place
according to his mode: thus Abraham said to the Lord (Gn. 18:27), "I will
speak to my Lord, whereas I am dust and ashes." In this way humility is a
virtue. Sometimes, however, this may be ill-done, for instance when man,
"not understanding his honor, compares himself to senseless beasts, and
becomes like to them" (Ps. 48:13).

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[161] A[1] R.O. 2 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 2: As stated (ad 1), humility, in so far as it is a virtue,
conveys the notion of a praiseworthy self-abasement to the lowest place.
Now this is sometimes done merely as to outward signs and pretense:
wherefore this is "false humility," of which Augustine says in a letter
(Ep. cxlix) that it is "grievous pride," since to wit, it would seem to
aim at excellence of glory. Sometimes, however, this is done by an inward
movement of the soul, and in this way, properly speaking, humility is
reckoned a virtue, because virtue does not consist externals, but chiefly
in the inward choice of the mind, as the Philosopher states (Ethic. ii,
5).

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[161] A[1] R.O. 3 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 3: Humility restrains the appetite from aiming at great things
against right reason: while magnanimity urges the mind to great things in
accord with right reason. Hence it is clear that magnanimity is not
opposed to humility: indeed they concur in this, that each is according
to right reason.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[161] A[1] R.O. 4 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 4: A thing is said to be perfect in two ways. First
absolutely; such a thing contains no defect, neither in its nature nor in
respect of anything else, and thus God alone is perfect. To Him humility
is fitting, not as regards His Divine nature, but only as regards His
assumed nature. Secondly, a thing may be said to be perfect in a
restricted sense, for instance in respect of its nature or state or time.
Thus a virtuous man is perfect: although in comparison with God his
perfection is found wanting, according to the word of Is. 40:17, "All
nations are before Him as if they had no being at all." In this way
humility may be competent to every man.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[161] A[1] R.O. 5 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 5: The Philosopher intended to treat of virtues as directed to
civic life, wherein the subjection of one man to another is defined
according to the ordinance of the law, and consequently is a matter of
legal justice. But humility, considered as a special virtue, regards
chiefly the subjection of man to God, for Whose sake he humbles himself
by subjecting himself to others.


Aquin.: SMT SS Q[161] A[2] Thes. Para. 1/1

Whether humility has to do with the appetite?

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[161] A[2] Obj. 1 Para. 1/1

OBJ 1: It would seem that humility concerns, not the appetite but the
judgment of reason. Because humility is opposed to pride. Now pride
concerns things pertaining to knowledge: for Gregory says (Moral. xxxiv,
22) that "pride, when it extends outwardly to the body, is first of all
shown in the eyes": wherefore it is written (Ps. 130:1), "Lord, my heart
is not exalted, nor are my eyes lofty." Now eyes are the chief aids to
knowledge. Therefore it would seem that humility is chiefly concerned
with knowledge, whereby one thinks little of oneself.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[161] A[2] Obj. 2 Para. 1/1

OBJ 2: Further, Augustine says (De Virginit. xxxi) that "almost the
whole of Christian teaching is humility." Consequently nothing contained
in Christian teaching is incompatible with humility. Now Christian
teaching admonishes us to seek the better things, according to 1 Cor.
12:31, "Be zealous for the better gifts." Therefore it belongs to
humility to restrain not the desire of difficult things but the estimate
thereof.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[161] A[2] Obj. 3 Para. 1/1

OBJ 3: Further, it belongs to the same virtue both to restrain excessive
movement, and to strengthen the soul against excessive withdrawal: thus
fortitude both curbs daring and fortifies the soul against fear. Now it
is magnanimity that strengthens the soul against the difficulties that
occur in the pursuit of great things. Therefore if humility were to curb
the desire of great things, it would follow that humility is not a
distinct virtue from magnanimity, which is evidently false. Therefore
humility is concerned, not with the desire but with the estimate of great
things.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[161] A[2] Obj. 4 Para. 1/1

OBJ 4: Further, Andronicus [*De Affectibus] assigns humility to outward
show; for he says that humility is "the habit of avoiding excessive
expenditure and parade." Therefore it is not concerned with the movement
of the appetite.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[161] A[2] OTC Para. 1/1

On the contrary, Augustine says (De Poenit. [*Serm. cccli]) that "the
humble man is one who chooses to be an abject in the house of the Lord,
rather than to dwell in the tents of sinners." But choice concerns the
appetite. Therefore humility has to do with the appetite rather than with
the estimative power.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[161] A[2] Body Para. 1/1

I answer that, As stated above (A[1]), it belongs properly to humility,
that a man restrain himself from being borne towards that which is above
him. For this purpose he must know his disproportion to that which
surpasses his capacity. Hence knowledge of one's own deficiency belongs
to humility, as a rule guiding the appetite. Nevertheless humility is
essentially in the appetite itself; and consequently it must be said that
humility, properly speaking, moderates the movement of the appetite.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[161] A[2] R.O. 1 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 1: Lofty eyes are a sign of pride, inasmuch as it excludes
respect and fear: for fearing and respectful persons are especially wont
to lower the eyes, as though not daring to compare themselves with
others. But it does not follow from this that humility is essentially
concerned with knowledge.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[161] A[2] R.O. 2 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 2: It is contrary to humility to aim at greater things through
confiding in one's own powers: but to aim at greater things through
confidence in God's help, is not contrary to humility; especially since
the more one subjects oneself to God, the more is one exalted in God's
sight. Hence Augustine says (De Virginit. xxxi): "It is one thing to
raise oneself to God, and another to raise oneself up against God. He
that abases himself before Him, him He raiseth up; he that raises himself
up against Him, him He casteth down."

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[161] A[2] R.O. 3 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 3: In fortitude there is the same reason for restraining
daring and for strengthening the soul against fear: since the reason in
both cases is that man should set the good of reason before dangers of
death. But the reason for restraining presumptuous hope which pertains to
humility is not the same as the reason for strengthening the soul against
despair. Because the reason for strengthening the soul against despair is
the acquisition of one's proper good lest man, by despair, render himself
unworthy of a good which was competent to him; while the chief reason for
suppressing presumptuous hope is based on divine reverence, which shows
that man ought not to ascribe to himself more than is competent to him
according to the position in which God has placed him. Wherefore humility
would seem to denote in the first place man's subjection to God; and for
this reason Augustine (De Serm. Dom. in Monte i, 4) ascribes humility,
which he understands by poverty of spirit, to the gift of fear whereby
man reveres God. Hence it follows that the relation of fortitude to
daring differs from that of humility to hope. Because fortitude uses
daring more than it suppresses it: so that excess of daring is more like
fortitude than lack of daring is. On the other hand, humility suppresses
hope or confidence in self more than it uses it; wherefore excessive
self-confidence is more opposed to humility than lack of confidence is.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[161] A[2] R.O. 4 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 4: Excess in outward expenditure and parade is wont to be done
with a view of boasting, which is suppressed by humility. Accordingly
humility has to do, in a secondary way, with externals, as signs of the
inward movement of the appetite.


Aquin.: SMT SS Q[161] A[3] Thes. Para. 1/1

Whether one ought, by humility, to subject oneself to all men?

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[161] A[3] Obj. 1 Para. 1/1

OBJ 1: It would seem that one ought not, by humility, to subject
oneself to all men. For, as stated above (A[2], ad 3), humility consists
chiefly in man's subjection to God. Now one ought not to offer to a man
that which is due to God, as is the case with all acts of religious
worship. Therefore, by humility, one ought not to subject oneself to man.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[161] A[3] Obj. 2 Para. 1/1

OBJ 2: Further, Augustine says (De Nat. et Gratia xxxiv): "Humility
should take the part of truth, not of falsehood." Now some men are of the
highest rank, who cannot, without falsehood, subject themselves to their
inferiors. Therefore one ought not, by humility, to subject oneself to
all men.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[161] A[3] Obj. 3 Para. 1/1

OBJ 3: Further no one ought to do that which conduces to the detriment
of another's spiritual welfare. But if a man subject himself to another
by humility, this is detrimental to the person to whom he subjects
himself; for the latter might wax proud, or despise the other. Hence
Augustine says in his Rule (Ep. ccxi): "Lest through excessive humility
the superior lose his authority." Therefore a man ought not, by humility,
to subject himself to all.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[161] A[3] OTC Para. 1/1

On the contrary, It is written (Phil. 2:3): "In humility, let each
esteem others better than themselves."

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[161] A[3] Body Para. 1/1

I answer that, We may consider two things in man, namely that which is
God's, and that which is man's. Whatever pertains to defect is man's: but
whatever pertains to man's welfare and perfection is God's, according to
the saying of Osee 13:9, "Destruction is thy own, O Israel; thy help is
only in Me." Now humility, as stated above (A[1], ad 5; A[2], ad 3), properly regards the reverence whereby man is subject to God. Wherefore
every man, in respect of that which is his own, ought to subject himself
to every neighbor, in respect of that which the latter has of God's: but
humility does not require a man to subject what he has of God's to that
which may seem to be God's in another. For those who have a share of
God's gifts know that they have them, according to 1 Cor. 2:12: "That we
may know the things that are given us from God." Wherefore without
prejudice to humility they may set the gifts they have received from God
above those that others appear to have received from Him; thus the
Apostle says (Eph. 3:5): "(The mystery of Christ) was not known to the
sons of men as it is now revealed to His holy apostles." In like manner.
humility does not require a man to subject that which he has of his own
to that which his neighbor has of man's: otherwise each one would have to
esteem himself a greater sinner than anyone else: whereas the Apostle
says without prejudice to humility (Gal. 2:15): "We by nature are Jews,
and not of the Gentiles, sinners." Nevertheless a man may esteem his
neighbor to have some good which he lacks himself, or himself to have
some evil which another has not: by reason of which, he may subject
himself to him with humility.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[161] A[3] R.O. 1 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 1: We must not only revere God in Himself, but also that which
is His in each one, although not with the same measure of reverence as we
revere God. Wherefore we should subject ourselves with humility to all
our neighbors for God's sake, according to 1 Pt. 2:13, "Be ye subject .
. . to every human creature for God's sake"; but to God alone do we owe
the worship of latria.
Aquin.: SMT SS Q[161] A[3] R.O. 2 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 2: If we set what our neighbor has of God's above that which
we have of our own, we cannot incur falsehood. Wherefore a gloss [*St.
Augustine, QQ. lxxxiii, qu. 71] on Phil. 2:3, "Esteem others better than
themselves," says: "We must not esteem by pretending to esteem; but we
should in truth think it possible for another person to have something
that is hidden to us and whereby he is better than we are, although our
own good whereby we are apparently better than he, be not hidden."

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[161] A[3] R.O. 3 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 3: Humility, like other virtues, resides chiefly inwardly in
the soul. Consequently a man, by an inward act of the soul, may subject
himself to another, without giving the other man an occasion of detriment
to his spiritual welfare. This is what Augustine means in his Rule (Ep.
ccxi): "With fear, the superior should prostrate himself at your feet in
the sight of God." On the other hand, due moderation must be observed in
the outward acts of humility even as of other virtues, lest they conduce
to the detriment of others. If, however, a man does as he ought, and
others take therefrom an occasion of sin, this is not imputed to the man
who acts with humility; since he does not give scandal, although others
take it.


Aquin.: SMT SS Q[161] A[4] Thes. Para. 1/1

Whether humility is a part of modesty or temperance?

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[161] A[4] Obj. 1 Para. 1/1

OBJ 1: It would seem that humility is not a part of modesty or
temperance. For humility regards chiefly the reverence whereby one is
subject to God, as stated above (A[3]). Now it belongs to a theological
virtue to have God for its object. Therefore humility should be reckoned
a theological virtue rather than a part of temperance or modesty.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[161] A[4] Obj. 2 Para. 1/1

OBJ 2: Further, temperance is in the concupiscible, whereas humility
would seem to be in the irascible, just as pride which is opposed to it,
and whose object is something difficult. Therefore apparently humility is
not a part of temperance or modesty.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[161] A[4] Obj. 3 Para. 1/1

OBJ 3: Further, humility and magnanimity are about the same object, as
stated above (A[1], ad 3). But magnanimity is reckoned a part, not of
temperance but of fortitude, as stated above (Q[129], A[5]). Therefore it
would seem that humility is not a part of temperance or modesty.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[161] A[4] OTC Para. 1/1

On the contrary, Origen says (Hom. viii super Luc.): "If thou wilt hear
the name of this virtue, and what it was called by the philosophers, know
that humility which God regards is the same as what they called
{metriotes}, i.e. measure or moderation." Now this evidently pertains to
modesty or temperance. Therefore humility is a part of modesty or
temperance.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[161] A[4] Body Para. 1/1

I answer that, As stated above (Q[137], A[2], ad 1; Q[157], A[3], ad 2),
in assigning parts to a virtue we consider chiefly the likeness that
results from the mode of the virtue. Now the mode of temperance, whence
it chiefly derives its praise, is the restraint or suppression of the
impetuosity of a passion. Hence whatever virtues restrain or suppress,
and the actions which moderate the impetuosity of the emotions, are
reckoned parts of temperance. Now just as meekness suppresses the
movement of anger, so does humility suppress the movement of hope, which
is the movement of a spirit aiming at great things. Wherefore, like
meekness, humility is accounted a part of temperance. For this reason the
Philosopher (Ethic. iv, 3) says that a man who aims at small things in
proportion to his mode is not magnanimous but "temperate," and such a man
we may call humble. Moreover, for the reason given above (Q[160], A[2]),
among the various parts of temperance, the one under which humility is
comprised is modesty as understood by Tully (De Invent. Rhet. ii, 54),
inasmuch as humility is nothing else than a moderation of spirit:
wherefore it is written (1 Pt. 3:4): "In the incorruptibility of a quiet
and meek spirit."

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[161] A[4] R.O. 1 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 1: The theological virtues, whose object is our last end,
which is the first principle in matters of appetite, are the causes of
all the other virtues. Hence the fact that humility is caused by
reverence for God does not prevent it from being a part of modesty or
temperance.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[161] A[4] R.O. 2 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 2: Parts are assigned to a principal virtue by reason of a
sameness, not of subject or matter, but of formal mode, as stated above
(Q[137], A[2], ad 1; Q[157], A[3], ad 2). Consequently, although humility
is in the irascible as its subject, it is assigned as a part of modesty
or temperance by reason of its mode.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[161] A[4] R.O. 3 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 3: Although humility and magnanimity agree as to matter, they
differ as to mode, by reason of which magnanimity is reckoned a part of
fortitude, and humility a part of temperance.


Aquin.: SMT SS Q[161] A[5] Thes. Para. 1/1

Whether humility is the greatest of the virtues?

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[161] A[5] Obj. 1 Para. 1/1

OBJ 1: It would seem that humility is the greatest of the virtues. For
Chrysostom, expounding the story of the Pharisee and the publican (Lk.
18), says [*Eclog. hom. vii de Humil. Animi.] that "if humility is such a
fleet runner even when hampered by sin that it overtakes the justice that
is the companion of pride, whither will it not reach if you couple it
with justice? It will stand among the angels by the judgment seat of
God." Hence it is clear that humility is set above justice. Now justice
is either the most exalted of all the virtues, or includes all virtues,
according to the Philosopher (Ethic. v, 1). Therefore humility is the
greatest of the virtues.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[161] A[5] Obj. 2 Para. 1/1

OBJ 2: Further, Augustine says (De Verb. Dom., Serm. [*S. 10, C[1]]):
"Are you thinking of raising the great fabric of spirituality? Attend
first of all to the foundation of humility." Now this would seem to
imply that humility is the foundation of all virtue. Therefore apparently
it is greater than the other virtues.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[161] A[5] Obj. 3 Para. 1/1

OBJ 3: Further, the greater virtue deserves the greater reward. Now the
greatest reward is due to humility, since "he that humbleth himself shall
be exalted" (Lk. 14:11). Therefore humility is the greatest of virtues.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[161] A[5] Obj. 4 Para. 1/1

OBJ 4: Further, according to Augustine (De Vera Relig. 16), "Christ's
whole life on earth was a lesson in moral conduct through the human
nature which He assumed." Now He especially proposed His humility for our
example, saying (Mt. 11:29): "Learn of Me, because I am meek and humble
of heart." Moreover, Gregory says (Pastor. iii, 1) that the "lesson
proposed to us in the mystery of our redemption is the humility of God."
Therefore humility would seem to be the greatest of virtues.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[161] A[5] OTC Para. 1/1

On the contrary, Charity is set above all the virtues, according to Col.
3:14, "Above all . . . things have charity." Therefore humility is not
the greatest of virtues.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[161] A[5] Body Para. 1/1

I answer that, The good of human virtue pertains to the order of reason:
which order is considered chiefly in reference to the end: wherefore the
theological virtues are the greatest because they have the last end for
their object. Secondarily, however, it is considered in reference to the
ordering of the means to the end. This ordinance, as to its essence, is
in the reason itself from which it issues, but by participation it is in
the appetite ordered by the reason; and this ordinance is the effect of
justice, especially of legal justice. Now humility makes a man a good
subject to ordinance of all kinds and in all matters; while every other
virtue has this effect in some special matter. Therefore after the
theological virtues, after the intellectual virtues which regard the
reason itself, and after justice, especially legal justice, humility
stands before all others.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[161] A[5] R.O. 1 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 1: Humility is not set before justice, but before that justice
which is coupled with pride, and is no longer a virtue; even so, on the
other hand, sin is pardoned through humility: for it is said of the
publican (Lk. 18:14) that through the merit of his humility "he went down
into his house justified." Hence Chrysostom says [*De incompr. Nat. Dei,
Hom. v]: "Bring me a pair of two-horse chariots: in the one harness pride
with justice, in the other sin with humility: and you will see that sin
outrunning justice wins not by its own strength, but by that of humility:
while you will see the other pair beaten, not by the weakness of justice,
but by the weight and size of pride."

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[161] A[5] R.O. 2 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 2: Just as the orderly assembly of virtues is, by reason of a
certain likeness, compared to a building, so again that which is the
first step in the acquisition of virtue is likened to the foundation,
which is first laid before the rest of the building. Now the virtues are
in truth infused by God. Wherefore the first step in the acquisition of
virtue may be understood in two ways. First by way of removing
obstacles: and thus humility holds the first place, inasmuch as it expels
pride, which "God resisteth," and makes man submissive and ever open to
receive the influx of Divine grace. Hence it is written (James 4:6): "God
resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble." In this sense
humility is said to be the foundation of the spiritual edifice. Secondly,
a thing is first among virtues directly, because it is the first step
towards God. Now the first step towards God is by faith, according to
Heb. 11:6, "He that cometh to God must believe." In this sense faith is
the foundation in a more excellent way than humility.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[161] A[5] R.O. 3 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 3: To him that despises earthly things, heavenly things are
promised: thus heavenly treasures are promised to those who despise
earthly riches, according to Mt. 6:19,20, "Lay not up to yourselves
treasures on earth . . . but lay up to yourselves treasures in heaven."
Likewise heavenly consolations are promised to those who despise worldly
joys, according to Mt. 4:5, "Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall
be comforted." In the same way spiritual uplifting is promised to
humility, not that humility alone merits it, but because it is proper to
it to despise earthly uplifting. Wherefore Augustine says (De Poenit.
[*Serm. cccli]): "Think not that he who humbles himself remains for ever
abased, for it is written: 'He shall be exalted.' And do not imagine that
his exaltation in men's eyes is effected by bodily uplifting."

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[161] A[5] R.O. 4 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 4: The reason why Christ chiefly proposed humility to us, was
because it especially removes the obstacle to man's spiritual welfare
consisting in man's aiming at heavenly and spiritual things, in which he
is hindered by striving to become great in earthly things. Hence our
Lord, in order to remove an obstacle to our spiritual welfare, showed by
giving an example of humility, that outward exaltation is to be despised.
Thus humility is, as it were, a disposition to man's untrammeled access
to spiritual and divine goods. Accordingly as perfection is greater than
disposition, so charity, and other virtues whereby man approaches God
directly, are greater than humility.


Aquin.: SMT SS Q[161] A[6] Thes. Para. 1/1
Whether twelve degrees of humility are fittingly distinguished in the
Rule of the Blessed Benedict?

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[161] A[6] Obj. 1 Para. 1/1

OBJ 1: It would seem that the twelve degrees of humility that are set
down in the Rule of the Blessed Benedict [*St. Thomas gives these degrees
in the reverse order to that followed by St. Benedict] are unfittingly
distinguished. The first is to be "humble not only in heart, but also to
show it in one's very person, one's eyes fixed on the ground"; the second
is "to speak few and sensible words, and not to be loud of voice"; the
third is "not to be easily moved, and disposed to laughter"; the fourth
is "to maintain silence until one is asked"; the fifth is "to do nothing
but to what one is exhorted by the common rule of the monastery"; the
sixth is "to believe and acknowledge oneself viler than all"; the seventh
is "to think oneself worthless and unprofitable for all purposes"; the
eighth is "to confess one's sin"; the ninth is "to embrace patience by
obeying under difficult and contrary circumstances"; the tenth is "to
subject oneself to a superior"; the eleventh is "not to delight in
fulfilling one's own desires"; the twelfth is "to fear God and to be
always mindful of everything that God has commanded." For among these
there are some things pertaining to the other virtues, such as obedience
and patience. Again there are some that seem to involve a false
opinion - and this is inconsistent with any virtue - namely to declare
oneself more despicable than all men, and to confess and believe oneself
to be in all ways worthless and unprofitable. Therefore these are
unfittingly placed among the degrees of humility.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[161] A[6] Obj. 2 Para. 1/1

OBJ 2: Further, humility proceeds from within to externals, as do other
virtues. Therefore in the aforesaid degrees, those which concern outward
actions are unfittingly placed before those which pertain to inward
actions.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[161] A[6] Obj. 3 Para. 1/1

OBJ 3: Further, Anselm (De Simil. ci, seqq.) gives seven degrees of
humility, the first of which is "to acknowledge oneself contemptible";
the second, "to grieve for this"; the third, "to confess it"; the fourth,
"to convince others of this, that is to wish them to believe it"; the
fifth, "to bear patiently that this be said of us"; the sixth, "to suffer
oneself to be treated with contempt"; the seventh, "to love being thus
treated." Therefore the aforesaid degrees would seem to be too numerous.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[161] A[6] Obj. 4 Para. 1/1

OBJ 4: Further, a gloss on Mt. 3:15 says: "Perfect humility has three
degrees. The first is to subject ourselves to those who are above us, and
not to set ourselves above our equals: this is sufficient. The second is
to submit to our equals, and not to set ourselves before our inferiors;
this is called abundant humility. The third degree is to subject
ourselves to inferiors, and in this is perfect righteousness." Therefore
the aforesaid degrees would seem to be too numerous.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[161] A[6] Obj. 5 Para. 1/1

OBJ 5: Further, Augustine says (De Virginit. xxxi): "The measure of
humility is apportioned to each one according to his rank. It is
imperiled by pride, for the greater a man is the more liable is he to be
entrapped." Now the measure of a man's greatness cannot be fixed
according to a definite number of degrees. Therefore it would seem that
it is not possible to assign the aforesaid degrees to humility.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[161] A[6] Body Para. 1/4

I answer that, As stated above (A[2]) humility has essentially to do
with the appetite, in so far as a man restrains the impetuosity of his
soul, from tending inordinately to great things: yet its rule is in the
cognitive faculty, in that we should not deem ourselves to be above what
we are. Also, the principle and origin of both these things is the
reverence we bear to God. Now the inward disposition of humility leads to
certain outward signs in words, deeds, and gestures, which manifest that
which is hidden within, as happens also with the other virtues. For "a
man is known by his look, and a wise man, when thou meetest him, by his
countenance" (Ecclus. 19:26). Wherefore the aforesaid degrees of humility
include something regarding the root of humility, namely the twelfth
degree, "that a man fear God and bear all His commandments in mind."

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[161] A[6] Body Para. 2/4

Again, they include certain things with regard to the appetite, lest one
aim inordinately at one's own excellence. This is done in three ways.
First, by not following one's own will, and this pertains to the eleventh
degree; secondly, by regulating it according to one's superior judgment,
and this applies to the tenth degree; thirdly, by not being deterred from
this on account of the difficulties and hardships that come in our way,
and this belongs to the ninth degree.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[161] A[6] Body Para. 3/4

Certain things also are included referring to the estimate a man forms
in acknowledging his own deficiency, and this in three ways. First by
acknowledging and avowing his own shortcomings; this belongs to the
eighth degree: secondly, by deeming oneself incapable of great things,
and this pertains to the seventh degree: thirdly, that in this respect
one should put others before oneself, and this belongs to the sixth
degree.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[161] A[6] Body Para. 4/4

Again, some things are included that refer to outward signs. One of
these regards deeds, namely that in one's work one should not depart from
the ordinary way; this applies to the fifth degree. Two others have
reference to words, namely that one should not be in a hurry to speak,
which pertains to the fourth degree, and that one be not immoderate in
speech, which refers to the second. The others have to do with outward
gestures, for instance in restraining haughty looks, which regards the
first, and in outwardly checking laughter and other signs of senseless
mirth, and this belongs to the third degree.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[161] A[6] R.O. 1 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 1: It is possible, without falsehood, to deem and avow oneself
the most despicable of men, as regards the hidden faults which we
acknowledge in ourselves, and the hidden gifts of God which others have.
Hence Augustine says (De Virginit. lii): "Bethink you that some persons
are in some hidden way better than you, although outwardly you are better
than they." Again, without falsehood one may avow and believe oneself in
all ways unprofitable and useless in respect of one's own capability, so
as to refer all one's sufficiency to God, according to 2 Cor. 3:5, "Not
that we are sufficient to think anything of ourselves as of ourselves:
but our sufficiency is from God." And there is nothing unbecoming in
ascribing to humility those things that pertain to other virtues, since,
just as one vice arises from another, so, by a natural sequence, the act
of one virtue proceeds from the act of another.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[161] A[6] R.O. 2 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 2: Man arrives at humility in two ways. First and chiefly by a
gift of grace, and in this way the inner man precedes the outward man.
The other way is by human effort, whereby he first of all restrains the
outward man, and afterwards succeeds in plucking out the inward root. It
is according to this order that the degrees of humility are here
enumerated.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[161] A[6] R.O. 3 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 3: All the degrees mentioned by Anselm are reducible to
knowledge, avowal, and desire of one's own abasement. For the first
degree belongs to the knowledge of one's own deficiency; but since it
would be wrong for one to love one's own failings, this is excluded by
the second degree. The third and fourth degrees regard the avowal of
one's own deficiency; namely that not merely one simply assert one's
failing, but that one convince another of it. The other three degrees
have to do with the appetite, which seeks, not outward excellence, but
outward abasement, or bears it with equanimity, whether it consist of
words or deeds. For as Gregory says (Regist. ii, 10, Ep. 36), "there is
nothing great in being humble towards those who treat us with regard, for
even worldly people do this: but we should especially be humble towards
those who make us suffer," and this belongs to the fifth and sixth
degrees: or the appetite may even go so far as lovingly to embrace
external abasement, and this pertains to the seventh degree; so that all
these degrees are comprised under the sixth and seventh mentioned above.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[161] A[6] R.O. 4 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 4: These degrees refer, not to the thing itself, namely the
nature of humility, but to the degrees among men, who are either of
higher or lower or of equal degree.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[161] A[6] R.O. 5 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 5: This argument also considers the degrees of humility not
according to the nature of the thing, in respect of which the aforesaid
degrees are assigned, but according to the various conditions of men.





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