Humility, as we all know, is a Christian virtue and one which we should try continually to develop. Even Jesus described himself as “meek and humble of heart”.

But I wonder whether it is overrated. If we pull ourselves away from Scripture and look at our experience, we may find that estimating ourselves too lowly leads to poorer performance. When I had charge of the training of a very large and successful sales force (many years ago) I discovered that the best sales branches were those which had the highest opinion of themselves. That high opinion may have been bolstered by success, but that success depended in its turn on the high opinion.

So I developed my theory of LIPS. The mnemonic stood for Limited Image Performance Syndrome. Its meaning was simple: we behave in line with the way in which we assess ourselves. It works both ways because it enables us to raise our game in line with our opinion and, on the other hand it inhibits us from performing above our opinion.

The most successful sales managers were those skilled in raising the LIPS of the sales force. They did this in several ways: for example, by publicising individual success, or by giving visible privileges for achievement. Although the sales people received financial rewards related to performance, the privilege of being given a special tie appeared to be the higher motivation. Throughout my management career I had the habit of writing a handwritten note to any of my staff who had carried out a function with particular success. I only discovered the importance of this when I forgot to do so on one occasion: I quickly learnt how highly this tiny gesture was valued.

If I apply LIPS in a Christian context, I have to distinguish between Protestant and Catholic (including Orthodox). Classical Protestantism holds that we are corrupted by the Fall, and remain so. We are saved only by the merits of Christ – which we receive through our faith. It is, so to speak, a kind of whitewash which covers our corruption. Catholicism teaches that, although our virtues are acquired through grace, we really become holier persons. Our sanctity (such as it is) is not a cloak, it is a fundamental change of heart which relates us to Christ. Thus, while we deplore our vices, we should notice, and rejoice in, our virtues – they are a stepping stone to the next challenge.

How do we square this with Christ’s claim to humility? The key to that lies in the passage with precedes his claim. (Matthew 11) he tells us that everything he has comes from his father. The claim: “I and the Father are one” does not suggest a low LIPS level to me. So the essence of humility does not lie in bad-mouthing ourselves but in acknowledging the source of such goodness as we find in ourselves, and rejoicing in it.

About Quentin

Portrait © Jacqueline Alma
This entry was posted in Moral judgment, Spirituality, virtue ethics and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

72 Responses to LIPS

  1. tim says:

    I’m not sure if a virtue can be over-rated. Over-emphasised, possibly.

  2. Iona says:

    I am uneasy at extrapolating from “a large sales force” to life in general, to our relationships with one another and our relationship with God.

  3. Martha says:

    “There, but for the grace of God, go I,’ sums up a realistic attitude, when we do manage to avoid falling in to sin.

  4. St.Joseph says:

    I was in hospital having an op for 9 days,and came out last week.
    I have a devotion to St Peregrine,the cancer Saint, and bless myself with his Holy Oil that comes from his remains,and read a devotion book’

    That is not what I am wanting to say But need to say it.
    In the bed oposite was a lady who has cancer and looked poorly and was going to Sue Ryder Home for a rest. She had a sister who visited her from Scotland and two sisters..
    I had St Peregrine’s Holy Oil on me and I kept thinking I could ask her if she would like it and explain it to her.Thinking that she would tell me to go away as I had not spoken to her.
    I kept getting cold feet, however a half an hour while waiting to go I took the risk and spoke to her about St Peregrine.
    She was so pleased and said it had given her some faith Her name will be placed on a list for Holy Mass to be offered up once a month, I told her that.
    She gave me her phone number, and she will receive more from the Apostolate.
    One sometimes must not be afraid but take the courage to follow our heart.
    If I had not done it I would have regretted it for a long time.
    I take every opportunity to Evangelize, and it can be done in the most unexpected places.
    We must not be afraid.!

    • St.Joseph says:

      Just before someone puts me straight.St Peregrine.s Oil is Blessed by the Servites.I dont think it comes from his remains.

      I have a small bottle of St Walburga’s oil A Nun who died in 779.
      It is her bones that precious liquid has flowed since 983 for four or five months a year. A clear liquid that oozes out of her bones enshrined under the main Altar in the church of the Benedictine Monastery, which grew up around her shrine. A small supply is sent regularly to Minster Abbey near Ramsgate.Kent.
      I believe in both, and with faith and prayers and it be Gods Will we are healed.
      Why hide our light under a bushle,place it on a hilltop where everyone can see it.
      Hence the Apostolate of SS.We can be ‘humble and proud’ at the same time!.

  5. Nektarios says:

    Apart from the last sentence I am afraid I cannot concur with your idea about humility.
    It seems your view of humility such as you have stated here, comes from the world. Generally speaking humility is seen as weakness, but that view of humility is not a Christian one, but a worldly one.
    And going further, it is clear from what you say, just how much of the worldly view about humility exists in the Church, and it would seem in your mind.
    The worldly view of humility as weakness was what gave rise in the third century onwards to the notion,idea and bringing into practice a heirarchy.
    I could go on at length but will stop here for now.

  6. Hock says:

    Like most things it is all about balance. An excessive show of humility can easily suggest insincerity whereas an overblown self confidence can be ‘off-putting,’ intimidating, and boring.
    I tend to hold with the view that what is effective in a sales environment does not automatically translate into other areas of life, especially the spiritual.

  7. Iona says:

    St Joseph – I applaud your courage, – and it clearly helped that lady considerably.

  8. milliganp says:

    I’m 6’4″ tall and have an (esitmated) IQ of 145. Both put me in the top .5% of the UK population. Both are an accident of birth, nobody criticizes me for being tall, but it is considered arrogance to mention one’s intelligence. My wife tells me I have almost no common sense!
    However, the parable of the talents seems to call us to use all our God-given gifts, we are not called to hide our lamps under bushells.
    In the USA telling someone that you are good at your job is not seen as arrogance, nor is strving for success. I know many professionals and in each profession ongoing development is key – yet we have no such programmes for faith.
    There are many organisations and associations within the church aimed at impoving piety but few at making better Christian citizens, parents or social activists.

    • John Candido says:

      ‘There are many organisations and associations within the church aimed at improving piety but few at making better Christian citizens, parents or social activists.’ (milliganp)

      Milliganp’s point is on the money as far as I am concerned. I would add any other profession, as well as clergy and religious as well. One would think that being a better or more pious Christian would by definition translate over to these other areas, but strangely this is frustratingly not the case. I think that this issue could be the subject of another post entirely.

    • Nektarios says:

      Milliganp & Quentin
      If I may address both of you, as Milliganp without realizing it perhaps, has hit one of the roots of the problem and that is a worldly,way as opposed to a spiritual way of living.

      To correct Milliganp, faith is not a programme devised by men, but a gift of God.
      Have we not taken this gift of God, and by Church organization,turned it into a plethora of programs, models and so on which has nothing to do with Faith, Christianity the work of the Holy Spirit?
      Something has happened which happened to the Jews, the Orthodox, the RCC, and is happening in most of the Protestant evangelical Churches too.
      The Jews should have been ready to receive Christ and the Gospel, but they would have none of it. The religious leader would not even listen. In otherwords they hardened their hearts. Don’t take my word for it, it was there in the OT and in the NT.
      When this happens, people are not listening to God, not walking in the Spirit, but hardened in their hearts, follow the ways and fashions of this world. Don’t people reaiize to do so is to be an enemy of God?
      I’ll stop here for now.

      • milliganp says:

        Nektarios, if faith were as simple as you say the Epistles would not have had to be written! Faith has an ongoing developmental life; the reason we have Sunday Sermons is to help people with their faith. Perhaps the worst faith is to believe that you have the Spirit within you and therefore don’t need other people or the Church.

  9. John Candido says:

    I hesitate to reveal the following information of a medical nature, which relates to my own observed effects of a prescription that was dispensed to me last year in November, by my sleep specialist. I suffer from obstructive sleep apnoea or ‘OSA’ and in order to assist me with countering the sleepiness that can hit me intermittently, I have been given a prescription for dexamphetamine 5mg 200 tablets.

    For those who are not aware of what dexamphetamine is, it is a medically presentable form of amphetamine, which can be given to patients by a prescription from a specialist, who has the authority entrusted to them by government to prescribe it to their patients. Dexamphetamine is used in the treatment of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), OSA and narcolepsy. I do not have a diagnosis for ADHD or narcolepsy. Its street name, by which it is sold impurely, illegally and in a completely uncontrolled manner to drug users, is ‘speed’.

    Both my General Practitioner and my diabetes specialist are aware of my prescription for dexamphetamine and are very circumspect, a little surprised and cautious about the matter. While I am on this prescription, I cannot obtain another prescription for it from another doctor or specialist. This is to prevent this prescription being abused by some people who go ‘doctor shopping’. Chemists are very jumpy about dexamphetamine as well. As I am an insulin dependent Type Two diabetic, I obtain my insulin from a local pharmacy, but I obtain every other prescription through an online pharmacy located interstate because I find it more convenient. My online pharmacy refused to dispense dexamphetamine to me and told me to obtain it locally, which I have done without any trouble.

    The dosage began with one tablet in the morning and one at lunch. No tablets are to be consumed during the evening because this medication can prevent you from sleeping. With no serious issues to report to my sleep specialist after a fortnight, I was told to double the dosage. I have my sleep specialist’s mobile phone number in case I have any urgent negative issues to report to him. After two months on dexamphetamine, I saw my specialist and gave a truthful account of my experiences on it. He directed me to reduce the dosage to one tablet twice daily.

    Being on dexamphetamine has been very interesting, exciting and worrying at the same time. It is interesting because I have noticed that my thinking, metabolism, talking and mannerisms have become noticeably quicker. As I am returning to study in 2016, the effects of this medication on my studies will be very interesting to observe. I have been given an offer to study a Master of Criminology at The University of Melbourne in 2015, deferred to 2016.

    I am no longer as hungry for food as I was before taking this medication. Without any exercise whatsoever I have lost 16 kg of weight in two months, eating three square meals a day. The quantity of food that I consume for each meal has decreased at least by 75%. This has been a deliberate act of mine as well as an effect of taking dexamphetamine. I still get hungry, but it is far easier to manage with a piece of fruit or a cup of coffee. My attitude to the amount of food that I consume has been completely turned upside down since taking this medication. I intend to lose all of my excess weight, take up regular exercise after doing this, and hope that this will remove the need to take insulin in future.

  10. Geordie says:

    We should take the example of St Paul in order to understand true humility. He does not belittle himself. He accepts that he has run a good race. He is looking forward to his prize. However he doesn’t claim that he is responsible for his achievements; he gives Our Lord all the credit and thanks Him for it.
    Don’t forget that those who have been given much, much is expected of them. If we deny that God is making us holy, we can avoid a great deal of responsibilities. Humility is not an easy virtue to practise. False humility makes us feel good and saves us from moving out of our comfort zone.

  11. Nektarios says:

    Your view in the preamble you gave is dangerous. You say:

    I have to distinguish between Protestant and Catholic (including Orthodox). Classical Protestantism holds that we are corrupted by the Fall, and remain so. We are saved only by the merits of Christ – which we receive through our faith. It is, so to speak, a kind of whitewash which covers our corruption.

    I say it is dangerous, because you imply that Classical Potestantism ….. that the merits of Christ – which we receive through faith ….it is so to speak a kind of whitewash which covers our corruption.

    So Salvation of God is nothing more than a whitewash? This is disgraceful and heretical language to say the least.
    Secondly, taking an erroneous view of Protestantism is almost unforgiveable, while you pump up Catholicism but hardly surprising.
    Well, like I explained previously, the problem is not so much different theology. I don’t believe for a minute, Martin Luther ever want to leave the RCC, but the RCC tradition became hardened and they persecuted him and many others and killing more. Martin Luther only wanted to reform those parts that had deviated from the truth.
    The Orthodox Church was the same and they became hardened in the tradition and would listen to anyone, and in a less form persecuted those who disagreed with them, and the Orthodox and the RCC and now the Evangelical Protestants do the same.
    All this leads to a deadness, wanting to control, and in a modern way, persecute others who disagree.
    But God has not changed. and he will raise up others to faithfully proclaim the Gospel, even though the mainstream denominations will persecute them in one form or another.

    So you see, from the beginning man as demonstrated by the Jews till now follow a kind of pattern,
    get hardened, lose sight of God and the workings of the Holy Spirit and would even say Our Salvation in Christ is little more than a whitewash; or as Milliganp suggests, Salvation of God is reduced to little more than a set of programs by men. God help us, and save us from such distortions of His Word as we find it in the Bible.

    • overload says:

      Quentin’s comment about the whitewash has been on my mind, abstractly, for the last few days, though I couldn’t remember until Nektarios just mentioned this what it was I was thinking about.
      My understanding is that both Protestants and Catholics are prone to think like this in one way or another.

    • Quentin says:

      I would suggest that you look up ‘justification’ in the Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church, where you will see the contrast between the Protestant and Catholic view. On take a look at the 39 Articles to see it translated into Anglican terms.

      My use of ‘whitewash’ may be a little graphic for you. All it means here is to be justified by faith alone (sola fide) without internal change, or, as the Dictionary puts it, ‘justification effected without man’s cooperation’.

      • Nektarios says:

        Not quite. To be justified by faith alone is not something thought up by man alone,(Martin Luther), It is there in Scripture itself, Romans 5:1-2.
        The scripture speaks for itself. Salvation is a work of God in us from start to finish.
        It is an on-going work in us and we are by grace and grace of God alone, sanctified.
        Our part is to believe the message. It is the Spirit of God that convicts, us of sin, convinces us of the the truth of the Gospel and converts. Churches do not convert anybody or reconcile anybody to God.
        Justification by faith alone does you see require man’s co-operation and the Holy Spirit helps him to enter in.
        What we have today is little more than the devils ABC `anything but Christ’.

      • Quentin says:

        Nektarios, you are of course quite correct to insist that faith is necessary for justification, and to refer to conversion as the outcome which allows us to love and do good deeds through the grace of God. But that is a not the view of classical Protestantism, which is explicit that neither our good nor bad deeds, after or before justification, have a bearing on our salvation. It is faith alone which justifies. I say ‘classical’ because I have no idea what Protestants believe nowadays. However I have an impression that justification by faith alone is kept on the back burner.

        Interestingly, Luther described St James’s epistle as an ‘epistle of straw’ because it declared that faith without good works is dead.

      • milliganp says:

        Nektarios, I suspect you are flying under a false flag. “Sola Fides” as expounded by Luther is rejected by the Orthodox in a similar way to Roman Catholicism. However current language in Lutheran-Catholic dialogue is more nuanced than the invective employed for over 300 years.
        The dead hand of Sola Fides was sadly illustrated in my father’s family. When my father died his brother “arranged” to be too late for the funeral because he believed my father was condemned to hell as a Catholic who had never “accepted Jesus as his personal lord and saviour”. Despite being a Baptist minister he wouldn’t even say a prayer as this was against his belief!

    • milliganp says:

      Nektarios, I can understand your frustration but Quentin’s somewhat brief summary is accurate. Luther was deeply troubled by his own salvation and God’s retribution and found in his own analysis of Romans a way to end his fear of damnation. History in the UK and USA has largely been written from the Protestant viewpoint and church corruption has laways been used to justify what was a major theological shift.

      • Nektarios says:

        Quentin & Milliganp
        I am not attacking nor defending the Orthodox Church, the RCC or Protestant Churches, but analyizing the history.
        What we have today is very different from the early Christian Church. What I notice with the Jew, and in the Gentile Christian world are the very same things, namely a moving away after a time from what Moses and the Prophets and the Apostles taught.
        Each did the same thing, they invented their own Traditions and also works.

        In doing so, they created divisions between the clergy and the laity. In the eary Christian Church there was the Apostles for a while and Elders and Deacons and Brethren. The Church then saw themselves very differently from today, for example, they saw themselves as equals, each having received God’s gift of Salvation by grace of God, and, in the Church they all had gifts of the Holy Spirit which they manifested to the praise and glory of God.No one tried to dominated another. But it did not last very long – into the third century
        when the present Traditions were formulated, the clergy, like their Jewish forebears who did the same, that was to separate themselves from the Church members as being more knowlegeable and superior to others and had the right to rule the Church.
        Worse was to follow, they started to dominated the Church and when the disagreed with them they persecuted their Brethren. This problem has been going on for centuries in all the Christian denominations, none more clearly than the RCC.

        You know, my RCC Brethren lay great store that St. Peter was the first Pope of Rome.
        Now I am going to shock you, sorry, but necessary. I doubt if St Peter ever saw himself as a Pope as is understood today. I have good evidence to say that and you will find it in Scripture:
        1st Epistle of Peter 5:1-3
        The Apostle writes thus: “The Elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an Elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed: Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind;
        Neither as being lords over God’s heritage, but being examples to the flock.”

        Each group aforementioned, have become hardened in their Tradition and lord it over God’s heritage, no group much better that the other.

        I have run out of space here to go into the matter of works, but they are works of faith, not mere glorified social work. So, what are works of faith then?

      • Quentin says:

        I think we can agree that religious authorities, in whatever denomination, are prone to abuse their position, and have a human invested interest in holding to their tradition. But the example is Jesus washing the feet of the disciples. Leadership is service not domination.

        I don’t think that your petrine quote helps much. The pope, whoever he is, is first a bishop, i.e. a successor to the apostles, and, second, the successor of Peter who was charged with his leadership of the apostolic group and the new community. He can scarcely have forgotten this in view of the emotional circumstances which led up to it.

        You can of course argue that the relevant passage was an interpolation, or that it means other than what is says, or that Peter’s charge ceased with his death, or that the charge passed to someone else. But you would need evidence.

      • milliganp says:

        Nektarios, you need a new hobby horse. Firstly I don’t understand why, claiming to be an Orthodox, you use entirely Protestant (Calvinistic) argumentation (and even quote from KJV).
        Secondly it is widely agreed that Peter didn’t write 1 Peter; Peter was a Jewish fisherman and 1 Peter is written in rhetorical Greek. As has been posted before the structure of the early church was of Autocephalous communities where appeal to external authority was only necessary in times of dispute. However this does not derogate to the obvious primacy of Peter implicit in so much early Christian writing.
        There are also numerous texts, written within 1 generation of their deaths, of the joint martyrdoms of Peter and Paul in Rome.
        For most people of the Catholic Christian faith (which includes Roman Catholics, Orthodox Catholics, Lutherans and Anglicans) the keys to the ongoing Christian life are the validity of Sacraments (and particularly Priestly and Episcopal orders) and an unbroken tradition (or handing on) of teaching.
        The problem is that you do not seem to offer a positive alternate interpretation; either the Church matters or it doesn’t and if it does we need to identify its authentic structures and beliefs.
        You present a tired and long since debunked prejudice against Catholicism – that we are all ruled by Rome. Please get over it and give us a break.

  12. John Candido says:

    Dexamphetamine has had the effect of speeding up my thinking and acting, as well as made me more able to concentrate or focus better on what I am doing. This may be of use in my personal life as well as a returning mature-age student, to get things done with less prevarication and with more controlled attention. If these things happen, then that seems to be a good outcome.

    The more negative or worrying effects of taking Dexamphetamine are that I find my regular practice of Christian Meditation more difficult to sustain, due no doubt to the quickening of my mind. I also find myself to be a more impatient and angry person, who does not tolerate fools as I did previously. I am very aware of this potential danger, especially in relation to the curse of road rage or with any of my acquaintances.

    To be clear, I am not a threat to anyone. However, I do notice that I have a lower tolerance level for frustrations. I have noticed that I have resumed a long abandoned habit of grinding my teeth, which is very curious. In lots of small ways taking this medication has led me to re-experience parts of my personality as a much younger person.

    Anger has its constructive uses of course. It can be an aid to achieve a long-term goal, or be useful as an aid to self-defence in the unlikely event of suffering an assault. Small amounts of anger can also act to help you to get ordinary things done on a daily basis as well. I have seen this change in me and it is a useful development. I am not entirely sure, but I do not think that taking this medication has made me significantly more confident, or possess a greater level of self-esteem. It may do so here and there, but not to a significant level or as a permanent alteration of one’s personality. It is difficult to say of course.

    I have been both very happy and very wary, to summarise my experiences with this medication. My sleep specialist has mentioned that as I am returning to study, he has considered the possibility of prescribing ‘Modafinil’, which has the proprietary name of ‘Modavigil’ in Australia, or ‘Provigil’ in the UK. Modavigil is prescribed for much the same reasons as Dexamphetamine.

    I am a very conservative person when it comes to illegal drugs of any sort. I did indulge in marijuana for a very short period when associating with the wrong crowd of people about 35 years ago, and stopped once I decided that I was not going to continue using marijuana recreationally for health reasons. Since then I have eschewed all drugs except those that are legally prescribed by my doctor.

    However, these significant experiences of a positive and negative nature whilst on Dexamphetamine need to be acknowledged and mulled over. I do not claim that any medication will make you a perfect person with exceptional aptitudes and skills. That would be nonsense. They certainly will not make you holier or more humble.

    What I wanted to do with both of these posts is to open a discussion about the potential of some prescriptions to improve the lives of people generally. I don’t think that there will ever be medications that will increase your IQ level. Only assist you to lose weight, get the ordinary chores of life done without putting them off for another day, sleep more soundly and concentrate better. Of course no one really knows what may or may not be available in future.

    • overload says:

      John, I have taken Speed (Amphetamine) recreationally a few times when I was younger. I once met someone who claimed to have used it to stay awake for 7 days will no more than half an hours doze here and there. I have heard about a youngish person addicted to Speed who died from overuse; the autopsy discovered they had the organs of an 80 year old.

      My experience with an eating disorder I suspect is relevant to you. I was desperately pursuing clarity of concentration to cultivate Buddhist meditation practice, and the controlling of eating habits became my obsession as I experimented with and observed the technical differences with respect of how, what and when I ate (or fasted) had upon my capacity to concentrate. So effectively I was using what I did and did not eat like medication, to give space for mental and emotional calm and clarity. And I did observe real results (however I could not pin these down, as much as I tried). I hoped to grow in discipline and awareness so as to be able to cope and confront the unresolved and unresolvable, both within and myself and how I related to the outside world.
      This obsession with food soon became a pseudo-religion and a multi-dimensional eating disorder; a deep hole which I am still — there is a residual backlog — struggling to come out of.

      The fact that you recognise that your taking of this medication has nothing to do with your faith in Christ indicates to me a serious danger: that you are prioritising your worldly happiness over God’s righteousness and your heavenly happiness. It may be Christ has given you a cross to bear, so that you might grow in faith knowledge of Him, and be awakened. But — such as our weak human nature is inclined to cling to the worldly, mechanical, and temporal — you seem to want to bypass this; you do not trust in Him!

      Forgive my forthrightness, but I am sceptical that it is profitable — profitable in Christ, and (given the nature of the medication and the effects you describe in yourself) nor even perhaps profitable merely with regards to your life in this world (at least in the long term) — for you to continue taking this medication. That is obviously only my opinion, based on my limited knowledge and experience, and my limited knowledge of you.
      I think, on the other hand… St Paul tells us “all things are lawful”. There may be a constructive use in you taking this medication — in the short term, as a learning process, and perhaps to fill a gap/void which you do not yet know how else to fill; you have not the strength of faith?

      GRACE and PEACE in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

  13. Brendan says:

    For me Iona’s ” uneasiness ” when virtuous Christian humility rubs against secular / human competitiveness, and Geordie ‘s expression of what ” true humility ” delivers in us ( Saint Paul ), is more nearer the mark.
    In Matthew Chap.8 – the cure of the centurion’s servant – it becomes obvious that because of his indomitable faith in Christ’s power over this world, the Centurion – a man of substantial power over men and of some standing in his army – was immediately rewarded by Our Lord for his humble approaches . We can infer from this encounter that the army officer at least began to ‘ know God ‘ through his own expression of humility, when he saw the results of Jesus’ work after arriving home. There was just no ‘ ifs and buts ‘ with this man. And of course Matthew goes on to relate the rewards in Gods Kingdom / the here and now and in Paradise for those who absorb this posture of complete humility before God.
    Of course Geordie is right, that even to understand ,before even taking on the humility ‘ given ‘ to us by Christ , is extremely difficult given the period of time in which we live. But to the Christian not impossible given the grace ( help ) in the Spirit ,of salvation gifted to us by the Father through his Son …. by us coming to ‘ faith ‘. We have lost sight of this ‘ lesson ‘ in all walks of life – Lutherans, Catholics, Orthodox or whatever – particularly in business dealings by courting personal prestige and material gain as a nation to the outright abnegation of past ‘ memories ‘ of ourselves as a Christian Nation. One of many examples of a kind of collective amnesia today.
    Thus Christ turns things on its head. It is through trust and the taking on of humility before Our Maker that the REAL power lies. Just one concrete example for all Christians and the world!
    It was the example of FAITH before God by the Phillipino people that ousted the repressive Marcos dictatorship in a bloodless coup in 1986.

  14. Brendan says:

    P.S. To that end the Christian in no way hides his/her “light under a bushel ” and everyone sees – ,but only in the light of ‘ faith’. The interface between natural and supernatural can become tangible, perhaps even t the most rational of minds .

  15. John Nolan says:

    Humility is often simply a matter of common courtesy, like ending a letter with ‘I remain, Sir, your obedient servant’. Let’s take ‘A Tale of Two Pontiffs’. When Joseph Ratzinger was elected in 2005 the secular press took up the theme of ‘God’s Rottweiler’, an orthodox enforcer and latter-day Grand Inquisitor. The fact that Ratzinger in his long tenure of prefect of the CDF had been unfailingly courteous to those like Kung and Boff who had no scruples about publicly maligning him seems to have eluded them.

    Benedict XVI at his installation Mass had wanted to wear the fanon as being a distinctive papal garment. Piero Marini, the then papal MC demurred; he instead wanted a distinctive pallium of his own design, supposedly based on ancient examples. Benedict let him have his way – indeed, he later allowed himself to be seen wearing garish ‘modern’ vestments which he himself would have deplored. Only after two-and-a-half years, and with a new MC, did Benedict exercise his own choice in liturgical matters and he only adopted the fanon in the last two years of his papacy.

    In contrast his successor refused to wear even choir dress from day one, has publicly scolded the curial Cardinals, has refused to support bishops in the Philippines for making a stand against the secularizing tendencies of their government, has come down like a ton of bricks on a flourishing religious order because they are too ‘orthodox’ (which is semantically impossible since orthodoxy and heterodoxy do not admit of degree) and has made confusing and contradictory statements.

    I’m not saying this makes him a bad pope; Paul IV, elected at the age of 79 was terrifyingly autocratic. But humility as generally understood today would be more of a characteristic of his predecessor.

    • overload says:

      I see in both Francis and Benedict humility, manifesting itself in very different ways, perhaps. Neither are perfect; the idea of a perfect Pope is inconceivable. the idea of being a Pope is terrifying to my mind — the responsibility, and also the burden of “Holy Father” ego that one must take upon oneself (or at least is thrust upon one). The burden and chains of stress upon the integrity of the Pope and the integrity of the RCC are, I believe, barely imaginable. Perhaps, for any spiritually sensitive Pope, he can cope on the job only by avoiding thinking about this.

  16. Iona says:

    John Nolan – which “flourishing religious order” was that? And, which secularising tendencies of the Philippine government were the bishops making a stand against?
    (The “confusing and contradictory statements” may be a matter for criticism, but don’t in themselves necessarily indicate a lack of humility. Do they?)

    • John Nolan says:


      The Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate. I don’t need to go into the details – all the information is out there. The Filipino hierarchy have been vocal in their opposition to the Aquino regime’s Reproductive Health law, and although Pope Francis obliquely criticized it in his discourse on the family, Aquino proceeded to attack the Catholic hierarchy in a speech in the Pontiff’s presence. Francis was honour and duty bound to back the bishops publicly but declined to do so.

      Francis claims to welcome criticism and makes self-deprecatory statements but at the same time calls fellow-Catholics ‘self-absorbed Promethean neo-Pelagians’. Your guess is as good as mine as to what that actually means, but I don’t see it as complimentary. In 2006 he was the only senior cleric who did not defend Pope Benedict when he was attacked for remarks taken out of context in his Regensburg lecture; in fact he publicly criticized the Pope, which is surely unprecedented for a cardinal.

      To what extent this shows ‘humility’ I shall leave to your judgement.

      • Brendan says:

        John Nolan, without giving exact references or taking into account the context of which you speak of, you……” doth protest too much, methinks.”
        Speaking of the Pope’s visit to the Phillipines , ‘ The American Catholic ‘ on January 15th 2015, reported a speech in which Pope Francis gave a .. ” ringing affirmation of Humanae Vitae. ” The Holy Father has it made it perfectly obvious where he stands.
        Pope Francis has made it clear to all Catholics taking an interest in such things , that he sees the ‘ centre of gravity ‘ of Catholicism shifting to Asia and Africa. To this end his visit to this overwhelmingly Catholic country was pastoral in nature , totally dedicated as was his predecessors to proclaiming the gospel of life. No doubt the Phillipino Bishops
        since 2013 – objecting against their Governments new Reproductive Law – will uphold Catholic Teaching with or without the Pope’s intervention in this matter. Aquino ( as a politician ) knows where his people stand on this and in trying to goad the Pope into a response to his attack on the Churches Bishops he is displaying what all politicians do when working from a position of weakness ……….attack indiscriminately !
        The Phillipino Bishops can and should be able to handle themselves. God knows they had enough practice during the Marcos era. It is to the Pope’s credit that he resisted and chose the path of ‘ humility ‘ to concentrate on his central mission.
        As to the statement that he calls fellow Catholics… ” self -absorbed Promethean Neo- Pelagians ” …. he is talking about the un- Christian way that some given high office in the church , by giving the impression that they do not entirely need the saving grace of God, regard their position as somehow ‘won ‘ by them and not given to them as a privilege to be used ….. ad maiorem Dei gloriam. The Pope is a Jesuit after all .

  17. Hock says:

    Perhaps Quentin’s positive experience with his workforce was more about good man-management techniques than ‘banging the drum.’
    In that sense it could work within the Church. I can think of many a ‘religious’ whose man ( and woman ) mangagement skills are non-existent and they seem to take pride in their success at failure.

  18. tyke says:

    The problem with ‘humility’ as we understand today it is that it is as dishonest as ‘pride’. Not necessarily consciously dishonest, but it is a way to avoid really evaluating ourselves. If I play the violin I can lie to myself that I’m a maestro, or I can go the other way and consider myself incapable of playing anything in public. It’s a lot more difficult to admit that while I’m not brilliant, I am good enough to give pleasure to some people in some circumstances, and that I might be quite a bit better if… Isn’t that attitude the true humility ? Aren’t spiritual exercises there to help us approach that honesty — even if we can never get there ?

    Not being a Pelagian, I can be honestly humble about my capacity to save myself. But as a Christian, that’s fine — I’m saved by the grace obtained for me by Christ. (How we understand the way that grace acts is historically and theologically important, but for me it isn’t paramount. The main thing is that by it we are saved by the free gift of God, whether we try and cooperate or not.) Now there’s something that I can be proud of : because it doesn’t depend on me, and because it’s offered to everyone !

    • Quentin says:

      Tyke, I hope I am not making a distinction without a difference, but your claim that we are saved whether we cooperate or not bears examination. It is true that our cooperation occurs through grace, but it is still our cooperation requiring our free choice. One of the deepest and most wonderful mysteries of Christianity is that we actually put on Christ. Paul described it simply as: “I live, now not I, Christ lives in me.”

      • tyke says:

        My claim is that the important thing is to be saved … our conception of the mechanics of grace is the cherry on the cake.

        For me, whether we understand that grace is given to us and is sufficient to save us, or whether we understand that grace is given to us and that we are called to answer are two ways of looking at the same thing. I don’t believe that we can receive grace without being transformed, without being called on to answer. And if grace doesn’t eventually transform us, then it’s not grace.

        I’m with you (and with Paul too!) that the only effective way to exercise my freewill is by offering myself to God as his instrument. When I ‘cooperate’ with him by trying to do what _I_ consider should please him (most of the time, actually), then I get a result that is not good enough. Or just plain wrong. The trick is to be honest enough to distinguish between the two. And that’s hard.

        Perhaps we’re getting back to the subject of ‘humility’ again … which is a grace in itself.

  19. Nektarios says:

    Tyke & Quentin
    According to the Scriptures, our Salvation is not dependent on us at all. If it were none of us would be saved. It is dependent solely on the sovereignty of God. It is God that chooses, selects, predestines who will be saved. On the sovereignty of God in the matter of salvation, Quentin, I refer you to your good friend Acquinas. What he said on it is spot on.

    Concerning Holy Scriptures, the very word of God through Moses and the Prophets and Apostles
    to us. It would be an insult to God who gave it, for us not to read it with humility and reverence,
    for God is in Heaven and we are on the earth and limited, oh so limited.
    When reading the Holy Scriptures we need to ask ourselves two principle questions.
    1. What does the Scripture teach.
    2. What is my reaction to what the Scriptures teach.
    It is in the reaction to it, born out of pride essentially, man argues about the Holy Scriptures, but what he/she is confronting is not what the Scriptures teach, but the reactions one with another
    not The Scriptures itself.

    Many get hot under the collar about it, their view is the right one. I have seen churches divide on their reactions to what the Scrptures teach, rather than be humble and reverential towards Holy Scriptures. It is afterall the Word of God to us.

    • Quentin says:

      Nektarios, I find your doctrine strange. Of course it is true that God’s grace is necessary for salvation, right down to the first impulse in which we turn to God. But he has also given us the use of reason and freedom of the will. And when, in grace, we turn to God or turn away from evil behaviour it is us who are freely making the choice. So important is our free will to God that he allows us to damn ourselves if we so choose. Even at that ultimate point of self-destruction he allows our freedom – he will not save us despite ourselves. That is, in the true sense of the word, an awful thing.

      You do not understand the nature of grace. I share your ignorance because the way in which God gives himself to us is beyond human understanding. Similarly our human brains may lead us to reason that because God knows our fate he must predestine it. But a god who, having created human beings to love him eternally, cannot of his nature, predestine any one of them to damnation. Such an imaginary god would be a standing insult to the infinite source of goodness which we revere.

      I do not think you know much of Aquinas. Just as a prima facie thought, the Church, whose doctrine in the matter I, no doubt clumsily, explain here would scarcely have picked him as an abiding premier source of theological understanding if he defended your explanation of the work of grace.

      Nor would I choose Luther as a guide. While many of his attacks on the Church of that time were justified, he himself was a man of bad personal character standing in need of a belief which would relieve him of any guilt for his behaviour. I am confident that you have no need for such a remedy, so why choose him as a guide?

      • Nektarios says:

        I find it of little consequence when you say,”You do not understand the nature of grace.” Somewhat insulting and a put down though it is.
        Very well, if that is the case, let us look into all the wonderful amazing, surprising aspects of God grace in which I glory in having received and contintue to receive His grace.

        Shall we look into all the aspects of the differences between the demands and ends of the Law and of grace of God?
        Shall we talk about the exceeding riches of His grace, or indeed, the unsearchable riches of His grace?
        Shall we explore the restraining nature of God’s grace? Perhaps you would like to go into the keeping and preserving nature of God’ grace?
        Perhaps you would like to discuss John 10 where he shows us how the grace of God lays hold of you, will never let you go?
        Perhaps you would like to look into the giving nature of God’s grace? The Law demands, but the grace of God gives.
        Perhaps you would like to mull over how God’s grace reigns – it has power you know?
        We need to remind ourselves it is by grace we are saved…. it is a gift of God.

        Lastly for now, we might like to know how it is by grace, God places the Law from an external thing, on tablets of stone, into the mind and hearts of man?
        How it is when God writes His Law in our mind it gives understanding? When he writes it in our hearts, we understand, confess any sin or wrong-doing, admit God is right, and humble ourselves before Him.
        How in Ephesians 2 10. We see that what we are by His grace – we are His workmanship.

      • overload says:

        Quentin, you speak of God: “…a god who, having created human beings to love him eternally, cannot of his nature, predestine any one of them to damnation. Such an imaginary god would be a standing insult to the infinite source of goodness which we revere.”
        Our thoughts are not His thoughts, our ways not His ways. He enters into creation, but He is not bound by or dependant upon creation, do we not believe?
        What is damnation to an eternity in Hell? It is hopeless; unbearably unimaginable… and it is a mere blink of the eye; a mere illusion?

      • Quentin says:

        Nektarios, I am sorry if you felt insulted. But, as you see, I say that your ignorance is matched to mine, and I am not in the habit of insulting myself. A common error of many denominations (perhaps the Quakers are an exception) is to imagine that our feeble human attempts to describe the actions of God literally correspond to the truth,

  20. Nektarios says:

    No, I am not flying under a false flag at all.
    To the Catholic I am Catholic (within bounds) same with the Orthodox Church.
    Having been a pastor within the Presbyterian Church, I am not ramming its works and failures down anyones throat.
    Anyone who claims the Word of God is wrong; this liberal nonsense to put what man thinks in place of what God says in His Word, is to depend upon ones own works for ones Salvation.Crazy!
    If you want a definition I can only say, I am a Christian By God’s grace, My understanding is of God’s Word is also of grace, and my Salvation at the end is also of God’s sovereign grace.
    Therefore by God’s grace I with all other born again believers, am Orthodox, Catholic and a conservative evangelical Christian.

  21. Geordie says:

    “It is God that chooses, selects, predestines who will be saved.” Not Orthodox: Pure Calvinism

    • Nektarios says:

      Calvin like so many of the greatest bible scholars agree. Remember Calvin was RCC
      as was Martin Luther. What they agree upon is not their opinion, view, theological stance
      but what the Word of God actually teaches.
      It is what the early christian church believed too. Perhaps Calvin, those who preceded him like Acquinas, and those who have come later agree, in all aspects, Salvation is of God, and He alone is sovereign.
      So let me put a question to you, how do you read the Bible, and what is your response to what you read?

      • overload says:

        Nektarios, in response to your question:
        I am made in God’s image.
        There is a mystery in that I have freewill — yet I am not necessarily free in how I use my freewill!
        There is a mystery in asking “who am I”?

  22. overload says:


    “it is widely agreed that Peter didn’t write 1 Peter; Peter was a Jewish fisherman and 1 Peter is written in rhetorical Greek.”
    Widely agreed by whom? I have never heard this.
    A fundamental point Christ makes is that he came to confound the “wise”, and give true wisdom to the simple and childlike.
    You could say that it could not possibly be me having this conversation with you now about Christianity/Catholicism because I wasn’t first nurtured/educated as a Roman Catholic or even as a Christian? (Not to say that I am necessarily childlike and simple in God’s eyes, that is for Him to say.)

    “if faith were as simple as you [Nekatarios] say the Epistles would not have had to be written!”
    I think the point is that it can be that simple; and such, often, is the authoritative position. God likes childlike simplicity, which is accessible to all. We have a tendency to be childishly simple in the sense that we complacently misunderstand, or fabricate and cling to skewed a rational formulations of — the childlike simplicity we find in Scripture.

    “Perhaps the worst faith is to believe that you have the Spirit within you and therefore don’t need other people or the Church.”
    Yes, perhaps, and this can be expanded further to say: you can be an active member of the church, have community, and think this is sufficient; yet at the same time not be an awake/living member of The Church.

    “the keys to the ongoing Christian life are the validity of Sacraments (and particularly Priestly and Episcopal orders) and an unbroken tradition (or handing on) of teaching.
    The problem is that you do not seem to offer a positive alternate interpretation; either the Church matters or it doesn’t and if it does we need to identify its authentic structures and beliefs.”

    1) “the keys”: you have only mentioned Tradition/tradition, and failed to mention Scripture.
    2) “Either…or”: do you mean “Church” or church? And is everything with regards to faith a binary matter?
    3) When the Sacraments are used/taken as something of (invincible) value in-and-of-themselves—whether intentionally or not—they are inevitably abused and misused, misunderstood, and Christ’s name is taken in vain. Perhaps God’s gift in the face of any such confusion is in accordance with this Scriptural law: when sin increases, grace increases. Another positive could be that with any such confusion there may be also an invitation to re-examine what the Sacraments really mean, in light of the Scriptures, and in cross examination between the various Christian church traditions — for whatever good such endeavour might bring.

    • milliganp says:

      Overlord, I’m only going to answer 1 point as an example of the difficulty of engaging with yourself, Nektarios and others.:-
      Re 1 Peter; My statement “It is widely agreed 1 Peter wasn’t written by Peter” to which you reply “Widely agreed by whom? I have never heard this.”.
      This basically means you have NEVER read ANY crtical analysis of the New Testament.
      You can go to Wikipedia which has sufficient peer review by major academics to presume some accuracy, it’s section on the Authorship of 1 Peter discusses the many theories as to why Petrine authorship is unlikely.
      I could be criticised for allowing “many scholars…” to become “It is widely agreed”, I could be criticised for summarising “the author had to have a formal education in rhetoric/philosophy and an advanced knowledge of the Greek language” as “written in rhetorical Greek”. However you state that you are unaware of ANY controversy over the authorship of 1 Peter.
      To have any meaningful debate requires some common ground. I’m a formally taught Roman Catholic, a religion that accepts that intelectual reason and academic study have a place to play in understanding faith. You seem happy to posit personal ignorance of a whole area of academic research as immaterial in presenting what becomes a mere opinion piece.
      Can I suggest you and Nektarios look up “Credu ut intelligam” on Wikipedia to see what I would propose is a necessary starting point for any discussion on faith.

      • RAHNER says:

        “You seem happy to posit personal ignorance of a whole area of academic research as immaterial in presenting what becomes a mere opinion piece.”
        Well said, Milliganp. Many contributors to this blog display a quite extraordinary degree of ignorance and theological illiteracy.
        And like most people who are ignorant they are totally unaware that they are ignorant……

      • overload says:

        I am sorry that you feel unable to engage with myself and Nektarios (and Tyke?). I’m wondering, on my part, if I can be less combative/provocative in responding to you (your comments seem to be accidentally crafted to hit buttons), and whether this is what God would prefer — I’m not sure.
        Thanks for pointing out the controversy about 1 Peter. This does not convince me that this academic take is authoritative, even if it is supported by the RCC. I do not mean to be arrogant; this is a matter of faith. None the less it is interesting what you highlight because I did not know that there was anything unusual about the language style (except to say that, with 2 Peter, it seems to have certain distinct style and authority which I feel is distinct from the also unique writings of Paul and John). So it illustrates to me that there may be something miraculous about the epistle.
        Because I believe that spiritual gifts, such as praying/speaking in foreign and angelic tongues (which could include embracing unfamiliar patterns of thought), are real fruits of the Holy Spirit, I have no reasonable doubt that Peter the Apostle could have written 1 Peter.
        Certainly we can, in weakness of faith, seek understanding so that we can believe (and thus fail to believe if we don’t understand), to some degree or another. I agree we seek the faith (if we don’t have it already) to work the other way around: “I believe so that I may understand” — and I think this is what Nekatarios and myself are trying to say, and this may also be something to do with humility.

  23. Iona says:

    Overload – The CTS New Catholic Bible says (in its introduction to 1 Peter) exactly what Milliganp said: “the style, vocabulary and rhetoric make it an unlikely work for a Galilean fisherman”

    • overload says:

      Iona, thanks. But no, if you re-read what he said, you will see that milliganp said something quite different to this.
      I wonder what is said in the introduction to 2 Peter?

      There is an epistle of St Paul which was not written by him, rather dictated through a Brother. He only signs it at the end.

  24. St.Joseph says:

    I may be speaking out of turn here, not understanding all the comments.
    But I wonder why Lucifer was not given the Grace to repent,but was thrown with his angels into Hell fire for all eternity by St Michael the Arch-Angel?
    Is that all a myth?

    • RAHNER says:


      • St.Joseph says:

        Does probably mean you dont know..?
        One could say there is ‘probably’ no Satan or his angels, even no hell for that matter.
        Our Lady showed the children at Fatima the terors of Hell., where the wicked through their own free will abide.

      • overload says:

        St Joseph. “the terors of Hell., where the wicked through their own free will abide”. Whilst this is surely true on one level, what do you think about “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”? If they know not what they do, what does this say with regards to the integrity and autonomy of their freewill? If God forgives Saul (Paul) and adopts him as his own Son, was this achieved by Saul’s freewill? Was the choice of his freewill any more than — when he was blinded and asked from heaven with great power “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” — to have responded: “Who are you, Lord?”

        See Romans 9 for more on predestination / freewill.

    • overload says:

      St Joseph. Satan has already been cast down to Hell? No.
      According to Scripture, if I remember and understand correctly, Satan and his angels will be — or currently are being (I don’t think already have been, though it is possible) — thrown out of heaven by Michael, and thrown down to earth. And he will become angry when he realises that he has been cast down to earth and his time is short. And then (I might be skipping quite a bit!) at some point he and his angels are put in chains for “1000 years” (not necessarily what we think of as 1000 years), and then released, they gather many amongst men (from Gog and Magog) to wage war against God — God’s final victory. Only at the end of Armageddon will they be cast into hellfire.
      This is talking only about Satan and his angels; I have not mentioned the antichrist (the beast coming up from the water who Satan gives his authority to, and the beast coming up from the earth, and the false prophet).
      The Book of Revelation is deep and knotted, and surely needs prayerful examination by the Church, in light of all Scripture.

      • St.Joseph says:

        That is interesting.
        I heard sometime that a certain Pope had a vision of Satan in the Vatican.and he was told by him that he would roam the earth for 100 years and take as many souls from God, who allowed him to do this as a testing of our faith.
        I can not remember the Pope but I think we are supposed to be living in those times now.

      • St.Joseph says:

        I do love Scripture-however I would rather hear it explained to me by a holy priest or when he daily explains it at Holy Mass.
        BTW. Jesus said on the Cross, Father forgive them they know not what they do!!
        We now know!!

      • overload says:

        St Joseph, I’m not sure quite what you are saying; maybe that we now have knowledge of Christ and have been given the Holy Spirit so we have no excuse to not know what we do? If so, whilst Scripture does say this, in reference to refusing to believe/love Gods only begotten Son, none the less I think we need to be careful not to presumptuously judge what true knowledge any man/woman has and does not have about Christ, especially considering how much His name (the Holy Spirit in His name) has been defaced, cursed and taken in vain in the spirit of antichrist over the last 2000 years.

        I think it is generally for God’s mind, not ours, to decide the threshold between:

        They know not what they do — forgive them.


        They know what evil they do and choose to do it. Yet even though it is true that if they really knew the evil they do, they could not do it: none the less, let them be accursed.

      • St.Joseph says:

        Was I judging?

      • overload says:

        Maybe, though I don’t want to judge.

      • St.Joseph says:

        Dont fear my friend.
        As I posted ‘We’ being ‘You and I’.’who ought to know’ as Christians. I can speak for my self- I know better.
        As you say I can not speak for you!!. You can only judge yourself!

    • milliganp says:

      St Joseph, just to give you the classical Catholic response to this.
      Angels are pure spirit, they do not exist in time and thus do not change. The rejection of God’s plan of creation by Lucifer is thus not a reversible decision, repentance is not an option. We are material and exist in time and so, in time, we can change. Remember the parable of the workers in the vineyard, no matter how late they started they got a full day’s pay; we can turn from our sins and have a lifetime to do so.
      However, if we die attached to a sin of sufficient gravity, like the fallen angels it will keep us from God for eternity.

  25. Geordie says:

    Calvin’s interpretation of predestiny is wrong. God’s choice for the destiny of mankind is that all should be saved but, because we have freewill, we can reject what God wants. Calvin said that those whom God has chosen will be saved whether they want to be or not. The rest are damned without any exercise of choice. This is not the teaching of scripture, nor the Catholic Church, nor the Orthodox Church.

    • Nektarios says:

      Nor was it what Calvin taught, or what the Protestant Churches believe in the manner you describe it.
      Rahner also thinks that so much of Scripture is myth. So you are an inspired of God Apostle, or just leaning on your own understanding -shame on you.
      Iona thinks that the Apostle Peter could not have written the Epistles of Peter as he was just a fisherman and it was `translated’ into. classical Greek, it was in fact, not classical Greek, but greek of ordninary folk spoke in the street. Do get your facts right.
      Perhaps you should review what I have written, as it comes as no surprise these days to hear such humanistic thinking, lacking all spirituality and little or no understanding of Scripture.
      Its tragic!

      • milliganp says:

        Iona doesn’t merely think! – he reads his Catholic Bible with study notes compiled by the Catholic Church’s greatest biblical scholars, approved by the teaching authority of the Church and commited to print by the official publishing house of the Vatican.
        That is slightly more than a mere personal opinion.
        There is absolutely no evidence that 1 Peter was translated into Greek from (I presume) Peter’s Aramaic, I defy you to find a single source of any reliability proposing such an idea.
        You don’t have to buy a study bible or NT commentary, just listen to Nektarios – he knows everthing!

  26. Martha says:

    St. Joseph, 12.16, I have always assumed that Lucifer and the angels who took his side in rebelling against God were given full opportunity to understand and be sure of what they were doing. They are a higher order of being than we are, so they could see it all much more clearly than we can, They could understand the greatness and immensity of God much more than we can. God must surely have given them many opportunities to draw back and return to His service.

    From our limited perspective their punishment does seem very harsh, and indeed it could not be worse, but if we fully realised the greatness and goodness of God ourselves, we might not think like this. We might be so totally aghast that such a being as an angel could deliberately and knowingly and continually defy Him and attempt to be as great as He is, that we would realise there could be no other outcome.

    And when we realise how hard Satan and the other evil spirits try to drag all mankind into their pit of evil and damnation, to spite and hate the God Who made us and gave us everything, we might appreciate the enormity of their evil intent and desire, and lose all thoughts of any kind of feelings of sympathy and regret for the completely aware and self inflicted fate which they have chosen. It is very hard to imagine, but I cannot see any other explanation.

    It does underline and emphasise the great love God has for His human creation, that He could go to such amazing lengths to save us from this evil, and be so infinitely merciful and forgiving to us.

    • St.Joseph says:

      Thank you..
      ‘Eyes hath not seen nor ears heard the wonders that God has prepared for those that love Him’!
      The sin of pride that Satan has, ‘I will not serve’ is very common today’.!
      Although Satan is served so well in a lot of cases
      I think sometimes that Jesus and Christianity is being pushed out for secular charity!!.

  27. overload says:

    St Joseph,

    My earlier comment about St Paul’s conversion from murderer to believer; I meant to use the quote I already gave (Jesus from the cross: “forgive them for they know not what they do”), but in fact at the time I was thinking of Stephen’s “Lord, lay not this sin to their charge.” — this illustrates another dimension to forgiveness, because here, in forgiving, it is not necessarily a matter of making the judgement “they know not what they do”; rather simply “forgive them”.

    I think I won’t speak about my own personal dilemmas, rather here is something of my personal take more generally on the dilemma you seem to highlight.

    My understanding is that Jesus wants us, in one sense, to pray first for believers (and for the growth in love and unity of the Church), and for those in need who already seek or yearn for love/truth/salvation.
    And in another sense he wants us to urgently pray for those who hate God, that they might be saved. I think this kind of charity to the secular is good. And in doing so, sometimes we might have to step into their shoes; to be humble and see things from their point of view, to seek the good in the bad, so to speak. On the other hand, we must avoid the kind of ‘charity’ where we are condoning evil; appeasing humbuggery; playing dangerous games of yoking with secular interests and the secular mindset.

    St Paul tells us a few things worthy of note:
    One day believers will be responsible for judging angels.
    For now, we are responsible for exercising judgement within the Church. I think this functions vitally to maintain the integrity of the Church, and it also allows for disciplining and moral guidance for those who are lost.
    As for those outside the Church (including those who may have been excommunicated, or who have left the Church of there own accord), we are not to judge them, but leave judgement to God.

    • St.Joseph says:

      Thank you. Yes we pray for ourselves and for sinners.
      We must realise that what we call sin does not mean that those who commit what we call sins are what others call sin.
      So we do need to pray that they will see reason and what they see as not sinful!
      Abortifacants, Abortion up to birth or the legal 24 weeks, Euthanasia, Same sex relationships and what they understand as marriage. 3 parent families. Invitro fertilizatio, where embryos are destroyed also when placed back into the womb and then the weak ones aborted. Sex lessons to young children etc,
      As I said in my comment above ‘Secular Charity, done in the name of love.
      I heard on the radio last week of the NHS putting contraceptive inplants in 10 year olds with parents consent.
      So we pray for the whole world! Can you find a better answer than that.
      When the law gives them freedom to do it.
      How can we compete with that?

  28. ask says:

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