Mandeville, LA – I pursue the Grace of Humility in everything I do. Note that I “pursue”, I never “attain” because as Augustine says (from my edition of Humility of Heart, available here):
“To whatever sublime height of sanctity we may have attained, a fall is always to be feared.” For, as says St Augustine, there is no holiness that cannot be lost through pride alone: “If there be holiness in you, fear lest you may lose it. How? Through pride.”
These words from my patron Saint echo in my mind as I read the mea culpa, mea culpa issued by our friend Joseph Pearce on the essay he wrote about David Bowie quoted today as Veritas et Sapientia. Let Pearce’s Humility be a chastising lesson to all of us in publishing and prognosticating:
“Post Script: Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa. I confess to Almighty God that I have gravely sinned. Upon finishing this essay, I read it to my wife, expressing my discomfort at the harsh and even uncharitable tone with which it seemed to have been written. She agreed with my misgivings, especially the final part in which I purported to know the state of Bowie’s “apparently atheist” soul at the point of death. Could I be sure that he died impenitent, taking his sins with him to the grave? Did I know for certain that he hadn’t made his peace with God before dying?”
Some may quibble with Pearce and claim that a real act of Humility would be to just withdraw the piece wholesale and issue a separate apologia. I respond that Herbert Cardinal Vaughan explored this very subject and gave the example of King David and Augustine as examples of why true acts of public humiliation, at times, are indeed humble and pleasing to God.
“King David was humble in his repentance, be- cause he did not excuse his sins but publicly accused himself of them; nor did he lay the blame of his own sins on others, but attributed them only to his own wickedness: “I am he that have sinned.”74 And the Magdalen also in her repentance did not seek for Je- sus Christ in some hidden spot, but sought Him in the house of the Pharisee and desired to appear as a sinner before all the guests. St Augustine, being truly humble in his repentance, gave the confession of his sins to the whole world for his own greater confusion and shame.”
I will draw a lesson and solace from Joseph Pearce’s Humility and pray that colleagues of his and mine may also so benefit.