BOOK REVIEW

Twelve Steps to Inner Freedom: Humility Revisited

by


Joan D. Chittister

 

 


Shortly after I was introduced to Benedictine spirituality in 2012, I found Joan Chittister. The title to this book was intriguing to me since I’ve been walking the recovery road for a while.

In The Twelve Steps to Inner Freedom: Humility Revisited Joan does a remarkable job breaking down Saint Benedict’s 12 steps of Humility into easily applied life principles. I’ve read this book twice and use it regularly as a resource.  I also enjoy Joan’s blog and other books which you can find here:  joanchittister.org.

Sr. Joan’s writing is beautifully descriptive.  She is one of my favorite authors today.  
I highly recommend everything by Joan Chittister! 

 

12 Steps of Humility :: ACKNOWLEDGING OUR FAULTS

EACH MONTH IN THE 12 STEPS OF HUMILITY WE ARE CLIMBING SAINT BENEDICT’S LADDER OF HUMILITY.  WITH EACH RUNG WE COME CLOSER TO THE PERFECT LOVE OF GOD.

The ladder is our life on earth, if we humble our heart God will raise it to heaven. ~ St Benedict

THE FIFTH STEP OF HUMILITY: a monk should not conceal from her abbess any evil thoughts entering her heart or any wrongs committed in secret, but rather confess them humbly.  

Centuries before the psychology industry built their fortunes on our troubles Benedict of Nursia knew the power of confessing to a spiritual guide or mentor.


One of the most difficult things to do is to admit our faults to another person. But as long as we keep our wrongs hidden they have a hold on us. The recovery community says, “We are only as sick as our secrets.” 

We destroy ourselves by failing to confess the germ of greed, ambition, anger, and lust at the very moment it is growing in our hearts. We give ourselves life by working through our problems with the wisdom figures in our lives who are stronger at that moment than ourselves. ~ Joan Chittister**

Declaring our faults aloud begins the healing process. Once we do share them we can forgive ourselves, begin new behavior and let the past go.

Finally, I confessed all my sins to you and stopped trying to hide my guilt. I said to myself, “I will confess my rebellion to the Lord.” And you forgave me! All my guilt is gone. ~ Psalm 32:5

Lord, remind me that when I refuse to confess my faults to you I am miserable. But when I stop trying to hide them, you are quick to forgive and all my guilt is gone! AMEN

RESOURCES:
The Rule of Saint Benedict Edited by Timothy Fry O.S.B
Twelve Steps to Inner Freedom: Humility Revisited by Joan D. Chittister**
The Twelve Steps of Humility and Pride by Bernard of Clairvaux
Living in the Truth: Saint Benedict’s Teaching on Humility by Michael Casey
St. Benedict’s Toolbox by Jane Tomaine
15 Days of Prayer with Saint Benedict by Andre Gozier, O.S.B.
Finding Sanctuary: Monastic Steps for Everyday Life by Abbot Christopher Jamison

Image credit: icetray / 123RF Stock Photo

12 Steps of Humility :: PERSEVERANCE

EACH MONTH IN THE 12 STEPS OF HUMILITY WE ARE CLIMBING SAINT BENEDICT’S LADDER OF HUMILITY.  WITH EACH RUNG WE COME CLOSER TO THE PERFECT LOVE OF GOD.

The ladder is our life on earth, if we humble our hearts God will raise it to heaven. ~ St Benedict

Step 4 of Humility: In this obedience under difficult, unfavorable, or even unjust conditions, [her] heart quietly embraces suffering and endures it without weakening or seeking escape.

If you remain faithful to the end you will be saved. ~ Matthew 10:22 


In our world today we want any trial we are facing to be corrected yesterday. We don’t have time, nor are we willing to persevere through the crisis.  This leaves us living as spiritual infants.

According to Saint Benedict in our obedience, we are to hold fast when things aren’t going our way. And the only way to do that is to stay centered on God!

We must take our eyes off the circumstances and how we want things to be and remember everything in life can be a learning opportunity if we allow it.

I love this Webster 1828 definition:

perseverance: continuance in a state of grace to a state of glory.


When we are walking in God’s grace we are more likely to give Him glory. But we can’t be walking in His grace with our eyes on the ground, or on the circumstances or the rearview mirror, or on ourself.

God will only get the glory if we keep Him in the center minute by minute.


RESOURCES:
The Rule of Saint Benedict by Saint Benedict, Edited by Timothy Fry, O.S.B.
Twelve Steps to Inner Freedom: Humility Revisited by Joan D. Chittister**
The Twelve Steps of Humility and Pride by Bernard of Clairvaux
Living in the Truth: Saint Benedict’s Teaching on Humility by Michael Casey

Image credit: designerkrim / 123RF Stock Photo

The 12 Steps of Humility :: ACCEPT SPIRITUAL DIRECTION

EACH MONTH IN THE 12 STEPS OF HUMILITY WE ARE CLIMBING SAINT BENEDICT’S LADDER OF HUMILITY.  WITH EACH RUNG WE COME CLOSER TO THE PERFECT LOVE OF GOD.


The ladder is our life on earth, if we humble our hearts God will raise it to heaven. ~ St Benedict

The first two rungs on Saint Benedict’s ladder of humility help us find our place in the universe. The next brings us to spiritual adulthood by opening ourselves obediently to the wisdom of others.

Step 3 of Humility: Imitating the Lord Jesus a person should submit to their superior in all obedience.

To begin our spiritual growth process we must first find a mentor / teacher and then be willing to accept direction from them. God graciously puts someone in my life to guide me. It is up to me to recognize their authority and to be teachable! 

Thinking we know it all usually land us face first in the dirt!  If we would have started in that position to begin with, humbly accepting direction, we could have saved ourselves embarrassment.

Growing up depends on learning from others. And learning from others depends on humility, being willing to submit this false sense of unlimited power to the experience and vision and penetrating heart of another. ~ Joan Chittister **

By practicing the First Step of Humility: Recognizing God’s Presence  and the Second Step of Humility: Accepting God’s will  it becomes easier to submit to the authority of a mentor or teacher that has been placed on our life path.


Ultimately it’s up to us to listen, accept direction, and value the insights of others. We must see our teachers, whoever they might be, young or old, as the voice of God speaking to us!


RESOURCES: 
The Rule of Saint Benedict by Saint Benedict, Edited by Timothy Fry, O.S.B.
Twelve Steps to Inner Freedom: Humility Revisited by Joan D. Chittister**
The Twelve Steps of Humility and Pride by Bernard of Clairvaux
Living in the Truth: Saint Benedict’s Teaching on Humility by Michael Casey

Image credit: rolffimages / 123RF Stock Photo

The 12 Steps of Humility

EACH MONTH IN THE 12 STEPS OF HUMILITY WE ARE CLIMBING SAINT BENEDICT’S LADDER OF HUMILITY. WITH EACH RUNG WE COME CLOSER TO THE PERFECT LOVE OF GOD.

The ladder is our life on earth, if we humble our hearts God will raise it to heaven. ~ St Benedict

 










Step 2 of Humility: A person shall love not their own will or take pleasure in the satisfaction of their desires; rather they shall imitate by their actions the saying of the Lord: “I have come not to do my own will, but the will of him who sent me.”

Certainly one of the toughest lessons we learn in life is that we don’t always get things our way. As children we are selfish with our toys, with our activities, our time, with our need for attention and even our friendships.

It doesn’t seem to get any better as adults. We want to control every part of our world.

If we can learn to let go and allow God to have control, life becomes so much easier.

But letting go is the hardest part.

I have found the more I practice letting go, accepting the current circumstances, the easier it is the next time.  Now don’t get me wrong. I still struggle with this. But it is getting easier. I just have to remember that what is out of my control is in God’s control. And what better place for control to be?

RESOURCES:
Twelve Steps to Inner Freedom: Humility Revisited by Joan Chittister
The Rule of Saint Benedict edited by Timothy Fry
The Way of Humility by Andre’ Louf

The 12 Steps of Humility

EACH MONTH IN THE 12 STEPS OF HUMILITY WE ARE CLIMBING SAINT BENEDICT’S LADDER OF HUMILITY.  WITH EACH RUNG WE COME CLOSER TO THE PERFECT LOVE OF GOD. 

THE LADDER IS OUR LIFE ON EARTH, IF WE HUMBLE OUR HEART GOD WILL RAISE IT TO HEAVEN. ~ ST. BENEDICT

 
 THE FIRST STEP OF HUMILITY:
A monk always keeps the fear of God before their eyes and flees from all forgetfulness. ~ The Rule of Benedict

To begin our heavenly climb we must humbly bow down and recognize the Presence of God in our lives.

Start with God—the first step in learning is bowing down to God; only fools thumb their noses at such wisdom and learning. ~ Proverbs 1:7

When we recognize God’s Presence, have a healthy, reverential fear of the Lord and give Him reign over our daily lives, we will find the freedom that comes from accepting our proper place in the universe. 

One of the biggest challenges is keeping our self-worth in proper perspective. Without putting ourselves down in our weaknesses or puffing ourselves up in our strengths, we see ourselves as God sees us, gifts and flaws alike. We must face our reality.

To get me back to reality took getting life ripped out from under my feet. Only then was I able to look up and start rebuilding my life based on who God says I am rather than who I thought I was in my own fantastic imaginations. 

Realize it or not, God is always present in our lives and aware of every thought.  It’s not hard to imagine God with us when we are being good. But to think of Him with us when we were doing something bad is uncomfortable. 

When we recognize God’s presence and put ourselves behind His lead we are less likely to fall. 

CLICK HERE for a beautiful worship song to enjoy as you meditate on the Presence of God.


RESOURCES:
The Rule of Saint Benedict by Saint Benedict, Edited by Timothy Fry, O.S.B.
Twelve Steps to Inner Freedom: Humility Revisited by Joan D. Chittister
The Twelve Steps of Humility and Pride by Bernard of Clairvaux
Living in the Truth: Saint Benedict’s Teaching on Humility by Michael Casey

Image credit: nexusplexus / 123RF Stock Photo