Taken from St. John Chrysostom's Homily on Lowliness of Mind:
Knowing therefore these things, beloved
even if we should have mounted to the very pinnacle of virtue, let
us consider ourselves last of all; having learned that pride is
able to cast down even from the heavens themselves him who takes
not heed, and humbleness of mind to bear up on high from the very
abyss of sins him who knows how to be sober.
For this it was that
placed the publican before the Pharisee; whereas that, pride I mean
and an overweening spirit, surpassed even an incorporeal power,
that of the devil; while humbleness of mind and the acknowledgment
of his own sins committed brought the robber into Paradise before
the Apostles. Now if the confidence which they who confess their
own sins effect for themselves is so great, they who are conscious
to themselves of many good qualities, yet humble their own souls,
how great crowns will they not win.
For when sinfulness be put together
with humbleness of mind it runs with such ease as to pass and
out-strip righteousness combined with pride. If therefore thou have
put it to with righteousness, whither will it not reach? through
how many heavens will it not pass? By the throne of God itself
surely it will stay its course; in the midst of the angels, with
On the other hand if pride, having been yoked with
righteousness, by the excess and weight of its own wickedness had
strength enough to drag down its confidence; if it be put
together with sinfulness, into how deep a hell will it not be able
to precipitate him who has it?
These things I say, not in order
that we should be careless of righteousness, but that we should
avoid pride; not that we should sin, but that we should be
sober-minded. For humbleness of mind is the foundation of the love
of wisdom which pertains to us. Even if thou shouldest have built a
superstructure of things innumerable; even if almsgiving, even if
prayers, even if fastings, even if all virtue; unless this have
first been laid as a foundation, all will be built upon it to no
purpose and in vain; and it will fall down easily, like that
building which had been placed on the sand.
For there is no one, no one of our
good deeds, which does not need this; there is no one which
separate from this will be able to stand. But even if thou
shouldest mention temperance, even if virginity, even if despising
of money, even if anything whatever, all are unclean and accursed
and loathsome, humbleness of mind being absent.
therefore let us take her with us, in words, in deeds, in thoughts,
and with this let us build these (graces).