In Cool Catholics, On Bended Knees

The Litany of Humility

O JESUS! meek [1] and humble of heart, Hear me.
 
FROM the desire of being esteemed, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being loved,
From the desire of being extolled,
From the desire of being honored,
From the desire of being praised,
From the desire of being preferred,
From the desire of being consulted,
From the desire of being approved,
 
FROM the fear of being humiliated,
From the fear of being despised,
From the fear of being rebuked,
From the fear of being calumniated,[2]
From the fear of being forgotten,
From the fear of being ridiculed,
From the fear of being wronged,
From the fear of being suspected,
 
THAT others may be loved more
than I,
Jesus, grant me the
grace to desire it.
That others may be esteemed more
than I,
That, in the opinion of the world,
others may increase and I may
decrease,
That others may be chosen and I set
aside,
That others may be praised and I
unnoticed,
That others may be preferred to me
in everything,
That others may become holier than I,
provided that I may become as holy
as I should,

—by Rafael Cardinal Merry del Val (1865-1930) Secretary of State for Pope Saint Pius X

 

AS YOU PRAY the Litany of Humility, you ask for three different graces that will allow you to live a genuine Christian life. These are the graces

to set aside your attempts to make yourself feel “special” through the acceptance and admiration of others;
to overcome your repugnance to feeling emotionally hurt by others;
to seek the good of others in all things, setting aside allcompetition, even at your own expense.

Still, let’s be careful that this is done in a psychologically healthy manner.

First, it’s good when our work is recognized and appreciated; the spiritual point is that we shouldn’t crave this admiration as an aspect of a personal identity, but that we endeavor to accept all benefits of our work in praise of Christ, who emptied Himself for our sake, who suffered for us, who died on a cross for us, and in whose service we do our work. But may I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ (Galatians 6:14).

Second, we all feel hurt when someone insults us; still, the spiritual point is that we don’t need to build up psychological defenses to protect ourselves from the pain of being insulted if only, even in our deepest hurt, we always endeavor to trust in Christ, who alone will protect us from all danger. Be not afraid, as Jesus says repetitively throughout the Gospels.

Finally, although “placing others first” runs counter to natural self-preservation, the spiritual point is that, if we really trust in God, not only can we stop competing with others to satisfy our pride but also we can endeavor to notice the needs of others, looking on others with compassion, in the hope that they might be saved from damnation because of their own desperate obsession with self-preservation. Nevertheless, our concern for others must not take on a form of masochism or self-defilement; in all of our charity to others we must never relinquish the responsibility of developing our talents to the fullest, so that we can serve Christ effectively and joyfully, in pure love.

 

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