When thinking about how I should write this reflection, I did not look up the word humility and ponder its many definitions, as some do. Instead, my first thought was “how can I make this the most entertaining, most insightful, and most memorable reflection, a reflection so good that it will blow all the others out of the water?”
You can imagine why some of my friends were a little confused when they found out I was chosen to write on the virtue of humility.
But what they might call infuriating egocentrism, I like to call a healthy dose of self-confidence. I believe in “speaking things into existence,” which is a really nice way of saying “fake it till you make it.” Almost constantly, I tell myself I will succeed, even if I don’t necessarily believe it. On a typical day, I’ll say to myself: “I will stay awake and finish my homework,” or “I’m not dropping this class, I’m getting an A in this class!” and more recently, “I will not wait until the last minute to finish this college application!”
This way of thinking has pretty much gotten me through high school so far. It was only when I started seriously reflecting on the virtue of humility that I noticed some discrepancies. St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, whom we celebrate today, said “Keep your heart in peace and let nothing trouble you, not even your faults. You must humble yourself and amend them peacefully, without being discouraged or cast down, for God’s dwelling is in peace.”
There is nothing inherently wrong with telling yourself “I can do anything I set my mind to.” The problem is the pronoun. “I.” It assumes that all the responsibility falls on you. Said another way, it’s “I myself can do anything I set my mind to,” and “I, acting alone, can succeed.” It’s a form of pride that might be hard to detect. Thinking this way neglects the absolute truth that although you make your own choices, God is with you every step of the way. He bears your pain in times of difficulty, and celebrates with you in your triumphs. There is nothing worthwhile that we can achieve without God’s help.
I’m not saying we should completely do away with self-affirmation. I personally wouldn’t last without it. But if God’s dwelling place is in peace, I’d just like to propose a little edit to our statements. Instead of simply saying, “I can do anything I set my mind to,” you can say:
“With God’s help, I can do anything I set my mind to.”
“With God’s help, I will stay awake and finish my homework.”
“With God’s help, I’m not dropping this class, I’m acing this class.”
“With God’s help, I can fake it till I make it.”
“With God’s help, I can speak things into existence.”
(Given by Senior Class President Senam '19 at Founders’ Day Mass on Oct. 11, 2018)