Word of the Year – Humility? Me?


Dear Susan,

I think I am already dissatisfied with the New Year. I haven’t broken resolutions already (give me a few more weeks) but I am not too happy with the hand I am being dealt. Is dissatisfaction a sin?

First, I went on that saint generator thing, brimming with soulful anticipation to pick my saint for the year – the heaven-sent exemplar on whom I could model myself this year. I don’t even remember who the first one was because I instantly went to find another. I got St. Lawrence of Brindisi. Brindisi, a sinkhole in Italy where I was stranded for two days in the summer of 1984 waiting for a ferry to Corfu.  Just before being stranded by a ferry strike (natch), the ferry operator/pirate laughed at those of us attempting to get the last boat to Greece. “Ha ha! Brindisi! You stay here,” he chortled in surprisingly good English. There is nothing exciting on this saint. He is the patron saint of nothing. My “random” choices kept getting worse, no matter how long I prayed before the next saint was generated. At least St. Lawrence’s feast day is my mom’s birthday so that’s a connection. St. Lawrence of Brindisi. Ha ha. You stay here.

Next, I cracked open my fab new prayer journal and was prompted to pick a word for the year. I am sure pride is a problem for me, although I have so little self-awareness that I can’t really say why. I went with “humility.” I looked up a lot of quotes about humility to get an idea of what I was in for this year.

  • Not thinking less of yourself but thinking of yourself less – Doug Clay
  • Freedom from thinking about yourself – paraphrase from William Temple
  • It is always the secure who are humble – G.K. Chesterton
  • Few are humble, it takes a self-esteem few possess – R. Brault


Ugh. I can see them painted on a wall plaque. “Swallow your pride occasionally – it’s non-fattening!” Just, no.  Is there such a thing as too much humility? When do we cross the line from humility to self-endangerment? I think of my mom, suffering alone in her memory care clinic, unable to speak or care for herself. I struggle for meaning with her state, wondering what God wants from her after over a year on hospice care. Maybe God is cleansing her of pride of a sort? The type that isolates people, never lets others fully in and never accepts help? Then there is my amazing MIL, who is so selfless that she often neglects her own medical care, etc. I don’t think I could go that far.  After all, we are made in God’s image and it should be OK to recognize the good in yourself, even in your humanity.  I finally came across a quote that may work for me:


“We are all worms but I do believe I am a glow worm.” – Winston Churchill


Hmmm. Maybe I see the problem after all. What do you think?





2 thoughts on “Word of the Year – Humility? Me?

  1. I do think that there is a tendency among some Catholics to cross the line from humility to self-endangerment. I think this is an issue that should be better understood by church leaders. Consisently speaking on humility can impact a person’s sense of self-worth. Plus, no one who schleps to Mass at 7:30 when it’s 15 degrees outside wants to hear that they’re not humble enough.


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