Collection: Extreme Humility

ARTIST: Joan Cole


The specific lesson of Extreme Humility is the humility we seek cannot be found by any effort of our own but can only be achieved by allowing the humility of Christ to take up residence in our hearts. Our attempts at conquering pride are poor, pathetic things, doomed to failure at the outset, an instance of that "vanity of vanities" spoken of by Ecclesiastes. The only certain road to humility lies along the path of the cross and tomb of Christ Himself.

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One of the most powerful icons for the Lenten season is that depicting the King of Glory in His tomb, commonly called "Extreme Humility." The grave is the great human equalizer, of course; princes and paupers alike must descend into death and experience the corruption of the flesh. An honest contemplation of the grave must necessarily lead to a humble acceptance of the imperfect human condition.

Yet, humility is the most elusive of virtues. We strive for humility, and then once we achieve it we find ourselves proud of our spiritual victory and must begin again, in a never-ending cycle of futility. St. John Climacus points out the only solution to the dilemma, the attribution of any victory over pride to Christ rather than the self.