Tag Archives: Letters of Augustine

Augustine – Humility, Humility, Humility

5 Jul


To [Jesus], my dear Dioscorus, I wish you to submit with complete devotion, and to construct no other way for yourself of grasping and holding the truth than the way constructed by Him who, as God, saw how faltering were our steps. This way is first humility, second humility, third humility, and however often you should ask me I would say the same, not because there are not other precepts to be explained, but, if humility does not precede and accompany and follow every good work we do, and if it is not set before us to look upon, and beside us to lean upon, and behind us to fence us in, pride will wrest from our hand any good deed we do while we are in the very act of taking pleasure in it. It is true that other defects have to be feared in our sins, but pride is to be feared in our very acts of virtue; otherwise, those praiseworthy acts will be lost through the desire of praise itself. And so, just as that famous orator who was asked what he considered the fundamental rule of public speaking is said to have answered ‘delivery,’ and when asked the next important, he again said ‘delivery,’ and, for the third, the same ‘delivery,’ so, if you should ask, and as often as you should ask, about the precepts of the Christian religion, my inclination would be to answer nothing but humility, unless necessity should force me to say something else.


Letters (83-130), ed. Roy Joseph Deferrari, trans. Wilfrid Parsons, vol. 18, The Fathers of the Church (Washington, DC: The Catholic University of America Press, 1953), 282.

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