“True humility consists in not presuming on our own strength, but in trusting to obtain all things from the power of God.” –From “Sermon in a Sentence: A Treasury of Quotations on the Spiritual Life; Vol. 5: St. Thomas Aquinas,” pg. 36. Selected and Arranged by John P. McClernon.
We cannot underestimate this little violet of the virtues, that is, humility. Tucked away in the shade of other, more colorful virtues is this potent little flower of deep violet hue, the color of penance. Indeed, humility presupposes a certain kind of penance already done in the soul and continuously renewed–that of recognizing our own inferiority and the supreme majesty and goodness of God.
However, the exercise of humility does not mean our violet must be moping about, drooping in recognition of the superiority of God. No, indeed, we should rejoice in the goodness of God; we ought to rejoice in our weaknesses, because God takes pity on our frailty and strengthens us by His power. Think of the lovely beauty of the penitential violet hue against a backdrop of hopeful green grass! Yes, this should be our state, like the violet: lowly and meek with humility but abiding in abundant hope, a hope that is fed and renewed and confirmed by the mercies and graces God showers upon us as life-giving dew.
Just as the violet cannot sustain itself by its own strength, so neither can we, who are born and pass away like the grass, seemingly overnight. We must, like the violet, trust upon the warmth of the sun of God’s love to enkindle the flame of holy charity in our hearts; we must look to the precious dews of God’s mercies and graces to feed and sustain the life of our soul; and we must take our place in the garden of God’s chosen people, content to be the little violets that He delights in–for God exalts the humble, and works all things for good to those who love Him and trust Him.