instruere...inlustrare...delectare Disputations

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Which way?

The Dominican liturgy for the Feast of St. Martin de Porres speaks of St. Martin being sanctified by following "the way of humility." This got me thinking about what the way of humility is, and I think it might actually be a whole set of ways, or at least that humility can be expressed in a variety of tones and shadings.

The humility of St. Dominic lay in disregard of honors and comforts that might impede the preaching of the Gospel. St. Thomas's humility guarded against distractions from his study. St. Catherine is the great doctor of the "she who is not" humility that stands as nothing before God.

St. Martin's humility strikes me as marked by complete absence of ambition. He had no desire for anything greater than he had, and in fact desired to have less. He wasn't interested in doing great things -- not for himself, and not even for God.

He doesn't seem to have been the type to daydream about leading the rejoicing crowd into the house of God, amid cries of gladness and thanksgiving, the throng wild with joy. He didn't want to go off and work wonders. He was content to do what God gave him strength to do for the people he met each day.

And of course, in that humility, that desire to simply do God's will rather than to suggest what God's will could be, he managed to do great things, to work wonders, to lead rejoicing crowds into the house of God.

Relatedly, Contemplata aliis Tradere posts a translation of the hymn Martine, gemma candida, which begins:
O Martin, in the halls of light
You shine, a jewel, sparkling bright;
Come now to help us from above
And bring us tokens of your love.

A pattern of God's love divine,
You have been made midst men to shine;
May every nation in you see
The image of Christ's charity.