During a conversation the other day, a friend of mine who is Christian, not Catholic, told me he likes going to Catholic Mass even though he can’t receive Communion. He said he finds it a beneficial exercise of humility to be there and not be able to partake of the Eucharist. (This is NOT a post about whether people who are not Catholic should or should not be able to receive Communion at a Catholic Mass, so put please put your views on that question aside.)
Humility is, of course, a virtue, but is not a very popular one. We have a tendency to act to protect our ego and we live in a culture that encourages that by placing a premium on individual achievement and self-promotion. We don’t tend to like things that fail to soothe our ego, that take the ego down a peg rather than build it up.
And so I was struck by my friend’s conscious decision to put himself in a situation that would make him feel humble. That would remind him, in a sense, that it is not all about him.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church defines humility as “the virtue by which a Christian acknowledges that God is the author of all good. Humility avoids inordinate ambition or pride, and provides the foundation for turning to God in prayer.”
One can agree or disagree with my friend’s approach to the question of Communion at a Catholic Mass. But his behavior offers a good model for living a reflective life and attempting to grow in faith. And so my conversation with him prompts me to ask myself: am I conscious about developing a sense of humility? Are there ways – perhaps little ones – that I might remind myself that it is God, not I, who is the author of all goods, by which I might avoid inordinate ambition or pride?
You might consider asking yourself the same questions.