From the Pastor-Aug. 2018

Aug 12, 2018 by

As the early monastics in Egypt strove to overcome their individual passions – those habits, thoughts, or emotions that blind us from seeing and loving as God intends, they also strove to develop the virtues. One of the most basic virtues was humility. In fact, to them, humility was more than a virtue; it was considered to be an attitude of heart. They understood love to be the very goal of the Christian life; and the way to that goal is humility. 1

Our modern concept of humility can be a stumbling block to our understanding of what the early church meant by this. It can even by hurtful, especially to women and minorities, who have had to struggle for their own self-esteem and their place in both the world and the church. Too often throughout much of history, humility has meant recognizing and accepting an inferior position in the world. Many women and minorities have been taught to serve in a way that seems to demand a loss of self. In such a context, the term “selfless love” raises an image of someone without any needs, desires, or personality of her or his own. 2

This is not at all what the early Christian monastics meant by humility. Instead, Roberta Bondi says, they considered humility to be a world-transforming attitude of heart, “a way of seeing other people as being as valuable in God’s eyes as ourselves. It was for them a relational term having to do precisely with learning to value others, whoever they were. It had to do with developing the kind of empathy with the weaknesses of others that made it impossible to judge others out of our own self-righteousness.” 3 And this, in turn, changed lives in a powerful way.

The early monastics were convinced that out of such an attitude of heart could come, by God’s grace, an entire way of Christian living, one that could be powerfully and radically loving.


1. Roberta C. Bondi, To Love as God Loves: Conversations with the Early Church (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1987), p. 18.

2. Ibid, pp. 43-44

3. Ibid, pp. 18


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