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On humility


You must humble yourself before everyone and regard yourself as worse than anyone. If we did not commit an offence that had been perpetrated by others, then it may be that we did not have the opportunity, or the situation and circumstances were different. While in every person there is something good and kind, all we normally see are their iniquities and do not notice anything good in them.

To the question that can one wish for spiritual perfection, the Starets answers: "Not only can you wish but you must endeavour to perfect yourself in humility, that is, to regard yourself in your heart that as lower than every human being and every creature. It is natural and essential that a sinful human humbles himself. If he doesn’t, then he will be humbled by circumstances, arranged thoughtfully for the benefit of his soul. During times of good fortune, he usually ascribes it to himself, to his puny strength and so called authority, but as soon as some type of misfortune befalls him, he asks for mercy and from an imaginary enemy.

The Starets also related how fortuitous circumstances humble a person: "Once, a person organised a luncheon and dispatched his servants to invite his guests. Confronted by a rather careless-looking servant, one of the invited guests asked of him: ‘Don’t tell me that your master could not find a better-looking servant than you?’ To which the servant replied: ‘The handsome servants he sent to the handsome guests and me, he sent to your lordship.’"

Starets Ambrose further instructed his students on humility: "Once, a visitor called on Father Superior Moses, and not finding him home, went to see his brother Abbot Anthony. During their conversation, the visitor posed the question: "Tell me batushka, what type of precepts do you maintain?" Fr.Anthony answered: "I had many precepts: I lived in the desert and monasteries and they all had different rules. Now there remains only one endeavour left: ‘God have mercy on me.’"

Batushka also recounted how "One woman kept wandered here and there, to Kiev then to Zadonsk, and one starets told her: ‘All this is of no benefit to you. Sit in one place and utter the Wise Thief’s prayer.’"

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