Interestingly enough Satan’s greatest aim (man’s loss of humility) is also his greatest fear when properly ordered in the human condition. The Catechism for example defines humility as the virtue by which a Christian acknowledges that God is the author of all good. This is exactly what Satan does not want. St. Peter (1 Pt 5:6) reinforces this definition even further:
Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that in due time he may exalt you.
Why is sit so important for Satan to draw us away from God? Simply put, the further we distances ourselves from God the greater the opportunity to fall away from His grace and mercy. What better way for Satan to come in and offer alternatives to God. Primary to this desire is an open disregard for the Divine and establishing a sense of entitlement. Let’s keep in mind that Satan had a process in mind on fostering a sense of entitlement when he asked Eve, "Did God say you shall not eat of any tree of the garden?" (Gen 3:1-3) Satan offers our parents a proposition between satisfying their own desires versus their desire for God, a love of self over a love for God.
All this leads to a second and most devastating part of Satan’s aim for man: the love of self above all other things. God becomes an afterthought even though we may try to convince ourselves this is not so. He plays on our incessant need to be happy instead of faithful, ambivalent instead of prudent, prideful instead of humble. His very aim reflects the characteristic he chose to forever be associated with, pride.
The Gift of Humility
Christ reminds us that he who humbles himself will be exalted (Lk 18:9-14). Humility serves as an action of self-abandonment. This means our will and intellect are directed toward a love for Christ and His Church. It reflects a willingness to die to self in order to gain eternal life. This virtue recognizes God as the author of everything good and clearly reveals to us that we are nothing without God.
Humility leads us to have a poverty of heart. This means our preference is Christ before anything else. St. Luke provides us with a great description of a poverty of heart in reference to the cost of discipleship where Jesus asks the Apostles to renounce everything for Him (Lk 14:33).
“All Christ’s faithful are to direct their affections rightly lest they be hindered in their pursuit of perfect charity by the use of worldly things and by an adherence to riches which is contrary to the spirit of evangelical poverty.” (CCC 2345)
One of the central characteristics of humility is the willful act of poor in spirit which helps us to recognize the awesome power of God and his goodness revealed through His son Jesus Christ. In a practical way, we are asked to live out our beatitudinal call, i.e. poor in spirit (Mt 5:3) as a way of serving our fellow brother and sister in Christ not only spiritually but corporally as well. St. Gregory of Nyssa echoes this point further describing that the “world speaks of voluntary humility as poverty in spirit; the Apostle gives an example of God’s poverty when he says; for your sakes he became poor.”
St. Gregory of Nyssa reminds us that there is a relationship between humility and our beatitudinal call. When we examine the beatitudes closely, they represent the heart of Jesus’ preaching. The beatitudes fulfill the law of the commandments by placing into action the rule of the faith. The Catechism (1717) strengthens this point even further:
The Beatitudes depict the countenance of Jesus Christ and portray his charity. They express the vocation of the faithful associated with the glory of his Passion and Resurrection; they shed light on the actions and attitudes characteristic of the Christian life; they are the paradoxical promises that sustain hope in the midst of tribulations; they proclaim the blessings and rewards already secured, however dimly, for Christ’s disciples; they have begun in the lives of the Virgin Mary and all the saints.
By nature of our baptismal call we are called to combat our own selfish desires through humility and abandonment to God’s providence. Our actions should not contradict the Gospel but instead should be in unison with our Lord’s desires for us as His children. St. Paul leaves us with a good reminder on how to keep ourselves in a humble manner within the mind of Christ: Pray constantly... always and for everything giving thanks in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God the Father (1Thess 5:17).
Copyright 2015 Marlon De La Torre.It’s easy to dismiss the influence of the Devil when we are neck deep in our human pleasures. It begs the question do we actually realize what we’re doing when this happens? When one begins to reflect on this question a bit further the Devil appears to be the last person we worry about because of our own self-consumption. One definite illustration of this behavior is the tendency to reject accountability for our own actions creating a “right as I please attitude” because it’s for the greater good of me. And here lies part of Satan’s aim for man, the desire to draw him away from God and draw him inwardly to himself.
About the Author
Marlon currently serves as the Director of Catechist Formation and Children’s Catechesis for the Catholic Diocese of Fort Worth. He is an adjunct professor of Catechetics for Holy Trinity Seminary serving the Diocese of Dallas and Fort Worth and an adjunct professor of Catechetics for The Catholic Distance University. His published works include Screwtape Teaches the Faith. Learn more about Marlon's work at his blog Knowing Is Doing.