Saint Osmund was a great English bishop who lived in the eleventh century. He was a holy man and was loved by rich and poor for his many virtues. One night while he was praying, so goes the story, the Devil appeared to him and began to argue. “Why do people call you good and me bad, when I have as many virtues as you have?” said the Devil. “You fast and mortify yourself, but I never eat. So I am just as good as you. You keep long watches during the night but I never sleep. So I am just as good as you. You are always working, but I never rest. So I am just as good as you. You try to make people happy, but I am always promising them happiness too. So I am just as good as you. I have the same virtues that you have. Why do people call me a devil and you a saint?” St.
Osmund replied, “I don’t know.”
If you listened carefully to that story you should be able to tell the difference between St. Osmund and the Devil. The Devil had no humility. Any time you find yourself saying, “I am better than anybody else,” that means that you are not. How can we tell whether we are as good as anyone else? Only God knows that. The words of the Devil are very much like the words of the Pharisee in our Lord’s story. You remember how the Pharisee went up to the Temple to pray and said, “I thank Thee, Lord, that I am not like the rest of men.” Humility is a virtue which is most pleasing to God, just as it is pleasing to men. Pride is hateful to God, just as it is hateful to men.
How can you tell whether you are proud or not? You are if you cannot give the proper answer to these questions.
1. Can I mind my own business?
2. Am I a good loser?
3. Do I say mean things about others all the time?
4. Am I always complaining?
5. Do I always want to be first?
6. Do I argue too much?
You may work as hard as the Devil and you may be as smart as the Devil, but without humility these things will not help you much. The man who prayed humbly in the Temple, not the proud Pharisee, was the man who went home with the smile of God upon him.
~ “Heirs of the Kingdom,” Imprimatur 1949 ~