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Shame, A Virtue of The Humble | KFP Articles
Shame, A Virtue of The Humble PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 02 May 2013 20:28

I remember reading about the virtue of shame in Pope John Paul II's Love and Responsibility.  I was struck by it because the idea of experiencing shame is something mocked and dismissed as archaic or simply something a parent does to a child to control their behavior.  The other day, Pope Francis spoke publicly about this virtue.  The ability to feel shame is a Christian virtue:

"But Jesus in the confessional is not a dry cleaner: it is an encounter with Jesus, but with this Jesus who waits for us, who waits for us just as we are. “But, Lord, look ... this is how I am”, we are often ashamed to tell the truth: 'I did this, I thought this'. But shame is a true Christian virtue, and even human ... the ability to be ashamed: I do not know if there is a similar saying in Italian, but in our country to those who are never ashamed are called “sin vergüenza’: this means ‘the unashamed ', because they are people who do not have the ability to be ashamed and to be ashamed is a virtue of the humble, of the man and the woman who are humble.

Shame is something that is completely lost to the modern era.  We'll need to redefine it to even begin understanding it.  Pope John Paul II referred to shame as something that arises "when something which of its very nature or in view of its purpose ought to be private passes the bounds of a person's privacy and somehow becomes public."   Shame is not some socially imposed feeling.  Rather, it reflects the nature of the human person as incommunicable and never to be treated as an object of use, as a means to another person's objectification.  Since shame helps to protect the person from objectification, it is an essential virtue to maintaining fundamental respect for other persons.  True love comes from this fundamental respect for the other person.  

Modesty is essential to developing a natural respect for other persons.  This is why I decry the loss of respect for the privacy of sexuality and the all too frequent lack of concern of young persons to maintain their virginity prior to marriage.  One's virginity is a precious gem that one should tenderly care for and fight to preserve with everything they have.  Immoral sexual actions will reflect their value on the soul but also their memory on the body.  Let's not distort our respect for others by developing vice where virtue should be.  

There is no greater sign of this terrible loss of respect than abortion.  The lives of unborn children have all too often become the "necessary" sacrifice to make possible a life of sexual liberty that not only destroys unborn lives but also destroys marriages and families with them.  It is not possible that a woman's virtue can come from such radical disrespect for the life of an unborn child or that a man's virtue can come from cheating on his wife and destroying the family structure that his children most desperately need. 

Children are used to such a point that pro-choice Americans, including our President Obama, can not even show concern for babies born alive after abortion but can only reiterate their support for a woman's right to choose.  Never does the pro-choice left allow consideration of the evidence that abortion harms the woman or that many women aren't free to choose but are rather pushed into the abortion by boyfriends, friends or parents.  Why?  Because the pro-choice movement is not about freedom to love but about a license for sexual pleasure at the cost of human life.  

Respecting other persons starts with humility and meekness and necessitates an awareness of the interior nature of the human person.

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