Think: The Election, as Saint Ignatius calls it, is the final choice we make based on the encounter with God through the Spiritual Exercises. But first we are encouraged to meditate on the Three Modes of Humility so that we might be properly disposed to receive God’s will with openness and obedience. The Three Modes of Humility are really three attitudes toward the service of God and the use of created things, and they are not to be understood as equally good. In other words, some attitudes are more conducive to making us attentive to Our Lord than others. Remember that an attitude, such as the Modes are here, is not a single act but a habitual mission ever before our eyes. In this way, attention given to the Three Modes of Humility should be more than a simple meditation; it should be something we chew on throughout the day.
Grace: We should beg Christ our King to call us to the third and most perfect Mode of Humility in imitation of Him as He carried His Cross. We should repeat this petition as often as we are able all through the day.
Meditate: The first Mode of Humility is to submit yourself to the will of God enough to avoid deliberately committing any grave sins. This should be the case, even if attempting such sins might carry the promise of riches, honors, health and a long life. You should be just as resolute if avoiding the serious sins might bring about poverty, dishonor in the eyes of the world, sickness and even death. This resolution may seem, at first, to be heroic, but in fact it is the bare minimum if you are to expect any sort of life in Christ and openness to His saving grace. Any attitude relying on less would be, by definition, in opposition to God – or at least apathy toward Him and His saving grace. On the other hand, you should keep in mind that this first Mode of Humility is not inconsistent with an actual serious sin from time to time. As prone to error as we all are, no Mode of Humility guarantees that we will never fall into sin. But the attitude here means that we are aware of the worst sorts of sins and we are disgusted enough by them to avoid them for the most part, with the help of God’s grace. A healthy fear of God, humble prayer, and self control will keep yourself sufficiently in this first Mode.
But while this first mode avoids the worst, by keeping in mind that union with God is one’s ultimate purpose in life, it coexists with a desire for the things of this world. It avoids anything that may appear hard or humiliating. This, unfortunately, is the disposition of many who claim
Christ as Lord.
The second Mode of Humility is one step better than the first. It consists in obedience to the will of God to the degree that even lesser sins are usually avoided. One can find this Mode firmly rooted when a person avoids lesser sins even when the sin promises riches, honors, health and a long life. Of course, avoiding these minor sins may also lead to poverty, dishonor in the eyes of the world, sickness and even death; but the second Mode of Humility keeps one resolved to avoid these evils. Real holy indifference is the key here.
The first two Modes are dispositions of the will rooted in avoiding evil. But the third and best Mode of Humility is a disposition of the will aimed at growing more and more perfectly in obedience to the will of God. The third Mode is a determination to do everything possible to please Him, either in avoiding evil or seeking out and doing good. As far as we can, we choose to be poor with Christ poor, to be insulted with Christ insulted, and to be thought fools as Christ was thought a fool. “He humbled Himself by obedience unto death, yes, death on a cross. (Phil 2:8)” This is how we become truly alive in His Resurrection! This Mode of Humility is out of love for Christ our King that we seek to be like Him in every way that we can. This disposition puts us at a position of advantage, ready at the slightest urging of the Holy Spirit to do whatever
is the will of the Father.
Soul of Christ, sanctify me;
Body of Christ, save me;
Blood of Christ, inebriate me;
Water from the side of Christ, wash me;
Passion of Christ, strengthen me;
O good Jesus, hear me;
Within Thy wounds, hide me;
Permit me not to be separated from Thee;
From the wicked foe, defend me;
In the hour of my death call me,
And bid me come to Thee,
That with all Thy saints I may praise Thee
For ever and ever. Amen.