Reunion Weekend is Almost Here

Join us Friday, May 31 – Saturday, June 1! Events are open to all alumni and celebrating milestone anniversaries for classes ending in 4 & 9.

Saint Ignatius High School

Now Enrolling: The School of Humility

Now that school is out, Mr. Healey will tie this summer’s midweek blog entries together under the theme of “deadly sins and lively virtues”. He begins humility--essentially the primary virtue for all humans--and counsels against the dangers of pride. As Healey writes: "Everything we do to imitate the humility of Jesus moves us one step closer to what we are called to be: human persons fully alive."
As summer begins in earnest with the completion of final exams, graduation, and the posting of second semester grades it is now a good time to reflect not only on where we have been this year, but also, and more importantly, where we plan to go in the future.  Building on some of the work from my senior theology classes, and with a little help from Bishop Robert Barron, the newly appointed Bishop of Winona-Rochester, Minnesota, I hope to tie this summer’s midweek blog entries together under the theme of “deadly sins and lively virtues”.
Those students who make their way through my Christian Manhood class in the first semester are exposed to several schools of ethical theory, most especially the school known as Virtue Ethics.  Virtue Ethics assumes that human beings want to be happy and that some actions - those we call virtues - will help them to achieve that goal while other actions - those we call vices - will hinder them in the pursuit of their goal.
For anyone familiar with the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola this line of reasoning looks a lot like the teaching presented by Ignatius in the “First Principle and Foundation”.  Ignatius tells his retreatants that they must get rid of anything in their lives that will lead them away from God and to gather in all those things that will lead them to God.  For Ignatius, as for most in the school of Virtue Ethics, the goal of human happiness resides in the Kingdom of God, and therefore virtue, which leads to happiness, also leads to God.
The problem for all of us humans in this regard is that when free will meets concupiscence then there are times when the temptation is too strong and clouds our minds, leading us to vice rather than virtue.  As St. Paul said in his Letter to the Romans, “Sin….worked death in me through the good.”  Vice parades itself before our thoughts and our senses as good, and we are willing to attend that parade because we have focused on something like wealth, honor, pleasure, or power rather than the simple and profound distinction between good and evil, virtue and vice.
And so with the first and deadliest of the seven deadly sins - pride.  Bishop Barron proposes the corresponding virtue of humility as the antidote to this primal sin: for just as Satan would not serve God and thus led the rebellion against the divine rule of all reality, so did Jesus serve God in total humility and obedience. 
One of my favorite moments in the film The Passion of the Christ is when Jesus has breathed His last and we see the reaction of Satan to the death of the Lord on the Cross.  In discussing this with students they wonder why Satan seems so violent in his rejoicing, and for this I am grateful.  Only someone who is pride through-and-through would be unable to express joy at (apparent) victory.  Any athlete who chooses to get in the face of the defeated foe rather than celebrate with his victorious teammates is not someone who has even a shred of humility, let alone human decency.
Humility is the primary, essential virtue because it is essentially a virtue of purity and joy, which makes it the opposite of pride.  Unlike the sterile, corrupt, and neverending look in the mirror that defines pride, humility is outward-looking, unitive, and procreative.  Every virtue is strengthened by humility, and every virtue grows in purity and joy as they shed off the remnants of pride.
Everything we do to imitate the humility of Jesus moves us one step closer to what we are called to be: human persons fully alive.  If we want to be happy, then we must turn away from pride and, as the prophet Hosea so beautifully said, walk humbly with God.  Only then can we start to see the pride at the core of all of the other deadly sins; and only then can we begin to practice the other lively virtues in the difficult, yet necessary, school of humility.