In our ever media driven world one thing we terribly lack as a society is humility. Every one of us wants to be right. With a few keystrokes and a press of the “enter” button we can create an atmosphere of superiority above those we are responding too. Frankly we need a dose of humility more than we ever have before. Father Augustine Wetta provides the tools to lead readers to a life of greater humility. To do this he utilizes the Rule of Saint Benedict as the foundation for his book Humility Rules: Saint Benedict’s Twelve-Step Guide to Genuine Self-Esteem.
Some may be a bit intimidated by the fact that the Rule of Saint Benedict is the foundation for this book. Some may see the Rule as outdated, stuffy, and hard to comprehend. Father Wetta has a gift, one that allows him to be able to present the Rule in a manner that makes it approachable and, in a manner, that ordinary people can understand.
Father Wetta uses a specific part of the Rule called “The Ladder of Humility”. As one ascends this 12-step ladder they are led to a greater understanding and appreciation of the virtue of humility. Suffice it to say the Ladder of Humility is worth your time. Bear in mind as one climbs the ladder the practices may seem more difficult but the end reward for successfully reaching the top step is out of this world…literally.
As Father Wetta points out, “Everything Saint Benedict has to say flies in the face of contemporary pop culture. He is not focused on self-love, self-praise, self-aggrandizement, or self-promotion – not focused on the self at all, but on how to relate to one another and to God in light of strengths and weaknesses.”
The twelve steps are as follows:
Step 1: Be afraid (Fear of God)
Step 2: Don’t be true to yourself (Self-denial)
Step 3: Don’t follow your dreams (Obedience)
Step 4: Suffer fools gladly (Perseverance)
Step 5: Put your worst foot forward (Repentance)
Step 6: Be someone’s doormat (Serenity)
Step 7: Have a poor self-image (Self-abasement)
Step 8: Think inside the box (Prudence)
Step 9: Don’t speak up (Silence)
Step 10: Laughter is not the best medicine (Dignity)
Step 11: Be unassertive (Discretion)
Step 12: Keep your chin down (Reverence)
One thing I must point out is that this book is about a serious topic but is by no means dry. Fr. Wetta does an exceptional job presenting each rung of the ladder employing humor and light-heartedness to capture one’s attention. The illustrations included in the book, based upon medieval sources, have been given a very humorous spin. He also draws upon his own often quirky life experiences to illustrate his points (bear in mind that Fr. Wetta is known as “the surfing monk” who was once almost eaten by a shark off a beach in New Jersey.)
So why is it that following these steps and spending time addressing the virtue of humility so important? Because it leads us to the greatness each of us was called to. Father Wetta tell us, “Perfect holiness is the purpose for which we were created, so we can’t allow ourselves to be comfortable with the status quo. The minimum is not enough. … Does this scare you? It should. But it should also thrill you, because it means you are infinitely important and always loved. … So get to it. You know the steps, now climb the ladder.”
To learn more about the book check out my interview with Father Augustine Wetta on Off the Shelf 091.