Before I entered the Irish Program, I had two significant reservations about being a part of the exchange. First of all, I am a self-diagnosed ambivert, meaning although I am extroverted, I do prefer, and savor, having time alone to myself, and I can sometimes immediately shut down the social part of myself and lie in bed with my phone while a dinner with all my favorite people is happening downstairs. Second of all, maybe the one more forefront in my mind, was my concern that I would not be able to genuinely call a person I met for the first time my sister and welcome her into my family, my life, and my friendships. I set those aside for a little while, and entered my name into the pool of choices, and luckily I was chosen to be in our little crew.
When Mrs. Foreman asked for a volunteer for someone to reflect upon humility, the extroverted part of me raised my hand quickly and thought “YES!! A chance for me to get in front of people, show them how thoughtful and philosophical I can be, and hear myself talk!” On the other hand, the introverted part of me simultaneously thanked the other part of me for a new excuse to chill on my bed without being told to do homework. Like, “MOM! I’m not just laying in my pjs, I’m reflecting." Unfortunately, as I welcome our friends from across the pond this week, I am not reflecting on hospitality, the obvious Salesian virtue (and easy one), but humility; and at first, I was at a complete loss for what humility could have to do with being a good host.
The one thing that makes this exchange so beautiful is the tabernacle that holds the Eucharist. We are all brothers and sisters in Christ, and so even if I do not know any of you, we are able to stand together in unity. That does not mean that we are immediately familiar with each other, but it means that we have something, at least one thing, in common, and that makes it easier to welcome each other into one another’s lives. Hospitality would be the obvious Salesian virtue to reflect upon this week, but through reflection, I found that humility was the better one.
The first thing that comes to most people’s minds when someone says “humility” is either someone with low self-esteem being praised for their lack of confidence or the dreaded humble brag. Recently in homeroom, Sister Berchmans commented on humility: “We are who we are by the grace of God. Humility does not mean that we deny the good things in ourselves or act like we don’t take pride in our accomplishments. It means accepting all of our good qualities and gifts, thanking God for them and using them to help others.”
I was completely struck by that, and the fact that I have always misunderstood humility. Who am I to say when I use my gift of talking with people and being social when I want to, and not use it when I don’t want to? I am who I am because God made it so, so I should use all my gifts to help others. Humility means setting aside pride to use the good things in yourself to help others. Perhaps hospitality would have been more fitting on the surface, but humility can teach us to be truly hospitable.
This Salesian reflection was offered by Caroline '21 on Sunday, October 14 at our Irish Exchange Mass.