Humility Of Heart: Restored original 1906 translation

Mandeville, LAHumility of Heart, the work by by Father Cajetan de Bergamo, was summarized recently by the blog Unam Sanctam Catholicam:

In the early 18th century, a priest named Fr. Cajetan Mary de Bergamo (d. 1753) wrote a treatise entitled Humility of Heart, which was popularized by the English Cardinal Vaughn in his 1903 translation and has subsequently become a classic on the virtue. In his treatise, Bergamo insists on the universal practice of humility, but notes that the way humility looks externally will vary depending on one’s station in life. He says:

Humility of heart…has no limits, because before God we can always abase ourselves more and more, even unto utter nothingness, and we can do the same to our fellow men; but in the exercise of these exterior acts of humility, it is necessary to be directed with discretion, in order not to fall into an extravagance that might seem excessive

Profound humility should exist in every state of life, but exterior acts of humility are not expedient to all. For this reason Holy Writ says, “Beware that thou be not deceived into folly, and be humbled” (Ecclus 13:10).

To practice humility of heart in the midst of pomp and honors, we can learn from the pious Esther, how she cried to God, “Thou knowest my necessity, how I abominate the sign of my pride” (Est. 14:16). I attire myself in this rich apparel and with these jewels because my position demands it; but Thou, Lord, seest my heart, that through Thy grace I am not attached to these things, nor this apparel, and that I only wear them of necessity. Here indeed is a great example of that true inward humility which can be practiced and felt amid external grandeur.” [5]

Listen to a talk about the book here, or download the MP3 version. Read more and download the book FREE, here.

Why I decided to republish Humility of Heart:

When I first heard of Humility of Heart, it was presented in a sermon delivered by a priest from the order of FSSP. He said that “reverence toward God leads to humility” and that has stuck with me ever since. Soon after hearing this sermon I located the 1944 edition of Humility via the website published by the Newman Bookshop of Westminster MD. This edition is the most widely available digital version I have located. I became so enamored with Fr. Cajetan’s text that I decided to republish the work myself in digital and literary form, update the footnotes and then restore Fr. Cajetan Bergamo’s blessed essays on the Our Father and all fifteen of the Holy Rosary’s Mysteries (which no one ever bothered to translate from the Italian, but I have now completed). In comparing the two works I discovered dozens of discrepancies in the footnotes of the 1944 edition and the 1739 original.

This led to a quest for a digitized copy of the 1906 original translated work of Cardinal Vaughan, to compare to the 1944 printing, you are currently reading, but none could be found. I began to think “there must be a copy of this magnificent work, in its original form.” After a search of every Catholic library in Louisiana I was ready to give up when I recalled that a friend, the Rev. Michael P. Morris, is the current Archivist for the Archdiocese of New York. Rev. Morris arranged for a copy of the original 1906 Vaughan edition, to be sent from the library at St. John’s in Collegeview, MN, to me. You are about to read that work as it was originally read by the English reading faithful.

What I have learned from this little book has altered my thinking on and approach to The Faith so profoundly it is difficult to describe, but I will try. In the first paragraph Fr. Cajetan lays out the conclusion “in Paradise there is no Saint who was not humble.” From there Father leads us on a meditation of what Humility is and how we may learn the disciplines necessary to acquire this most primary of graces. Father also cautions against ever coming to believe one has achieved Humility for as Augustine says “If there be holiness in you, fear lest you may lose it. How? Through pride.” I have learned through reading, praying and meditating on this work that nearly every human action is either corrupted by pride or made graceful by humility. In Father’s words:

But I will say more: and that is, examine yourself first, and see whether you really have this virtue that you think you possess. What I mean to say is: is it a real virtue, or perhaps only a disposition of your natural temperament, be it melancholy, sanguine or phlegmatic? And even should this virtue be real, is it a Christian virtue or purely a human one? Every act of virtue which docs not proceed from a supernatural motive, in order to bring us to everlasting bliss, is of no value. And in the practice o? virtue, do you join to your external actions the inward and spiritual acts of the heart? O true Christian virtues, I fear that in me you are nothing but beautiful outward appearances! I deserve the reproach of God’s word:”Because thou sayest: I am rich, and made wealthy, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched and miserable, and poor and blind and naked.” And in the same manner the counsel of St Augustine is good for me, that it is better to think of those virtues in which we are lacking rather than of those which we possess. “I will humble myself more for those virtues which I lack than pride myself on those I possess.”!  [emphasis mine]

Utilizing the lives and works of St Thomas Aquinas, St Augustine, St Bernard and St Gregory of Nanzien; Father guides us though a meditative learning process whereby the inspired words of the Saints is anchored to the greatest examples of Humility in history: the public Ministry of Our Lord, his Humble birth and the penultimate act of Our Lady at the Annunciation. You will be moved to tears and great (sic) “examens of conscience.” This book is not meant to be read in a linear way but rather taken as a process, much like reading the Consecration to Our Lady by de Montfort. This work is an inspired treasure and we are in the debt of Cardinal Vaughan for his translation, Fr. Cajetan for his authorship and the most Blessed Trinity for the graces granted to these men and their humility of heart.

About This Edition

The following pages were scanned over the course of five days in July of 2015 from the original 1906 printing of Humility of Heart, loaned to us by the college of St John’s, Collegeville, MN. The scans were done with an eye on preserving the page integrity of this very well-worn copy. For continuity we cropped the pages to a uniform size and left any additional gaps not containing book contents as they were scanned. This preserves the look and feel of the actual book as it was printed not as simply a digitized representation of its contents. Some of the pages, because of the binding, were difficult to scan and had to be digitally skewed and adjusted. The only additions made were on the table of contents page, where the text was not legible to scan. The beautiful lithograph on the inside book cover carries the caption “EXALTAVIT HUMILES” which means “lifted up the lowly.” This piece was touched up so the caption text is legible and I patched the tears to the inner binding, which distracted from the artwork. I pray you enjoy this work and will treasure it as we have in the last six months spent preparing our new printed and digital version which will include this edition. Please consider making a donation to help cover the costs of this process. Download the book FREE, here.

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