Padre Quadrupani expresses regret that few people, it seems, have a correct idea of the virtue of humility. He notices that humility is frequently confused with servility or littleness. Here is how to discern true humility from these latter misconceptions:
“When a Christian who is truly humble commits a fault he repents but is not disquieted. . . . He thanks God on the contrary that his fall has not been more serious. Thus Saint Catherine of Genoa, whenever she found she had been guilty of some imperfection, would calmly exclaim: ‘Another weed from my garden!’ This peaceful contemplation of our sinfulness was considered very important by Saint Francis de Sales also, for he says: ‘Let us learn to bear with our imperfections if we wish to attain perfection, for this practice nourishes the virtue of humility.'”
“Some persons have the erroneous idea that in order to be humble they must not recognize in themselves any virtue or talent whatsoever. The reverse is the case according to Saint Thomas, for he says it is necessary to realize the gifts we have received that we may return thanks for them to Him from whom we hold them. To ignore them is to fail in gratitude towards God, and to neglect the object for which He gave them to us. All that we have to do is to avoid the folly of taking glory to ourselves because of them.”
The Padre offers this memorable analogy: “Mules, asses and donkeys may be laden with gold and perfumes and yet be none the less dull and stupid animals. The graces we have received, far from giving us any personal claims, only serve to increase our debt to Him who is their source and their donor.”
Quotations from Carlo Giuseppe Quadrupani, Light and Peace: Instructions for Devout Souls to Dispel Their Doubts and Allay Their Fears (St. Louis: B. Herder, 1898).