Ecclesiasticus 4:28

"Fight to the death for truth, and the Lord God will war on your side."

Ora pro nobis,

Most Blessed Virgin Mary, St. Francis de Sales, St. Thomas Aquinas, and St. Dominic. Amen.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Litany of Humility

O Jesus! meek 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 to others...
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 suffering rebukes...
From the fear of being calumniated...
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...

(Category: Catholic Devotions: Common Catholic Prayers.)

12 comments:

Joni said...

What does "calumniated" mean?

This is a beautiful prayer!

Gregory said...

Hi Joni!
It means to have people speak slanderous and false things about you.

And yeah, it's a great prayer--warning, though, it works: and God doesn't so much give you humility, so much as He teaches it to you! So if you're going to start praying it, be forewarned!

Joni said...

Is that like praying for patience? I have learned to ask God to "give" me patience and not "teach" me patience! :o)

Kane Augustus said...

So, why is it that all these things need to be prayed against, as if you don't have the fortitude to deal with them yourself?

I'm not intending to be flippant or uncharitable with my question. Nevertheless, I do believe that people are a whole lot more powerful agents of change than they give themselves credit for. So to me, such a prayer seems self-abasing and abusive.

Cheers!
Kane

Gregory said...

The things mentioned in this prayer go right to the root of much of our discontent as persons. When we desire praise and adulation and recognition, we become irritated or insecure when we don't get it. When we're maligned, rebuked, or ignored, we become indignant or depressed.

When we respond in true humility, we are recognising that we don't need accolades from the world around us, because we know who we are, and we know that God loves us. When we know that, when we are truly humble, we can live our lives and fulfil our vocations without having to worry about what anyone else thinks of us. When we have done something good, we have done it because it is good, and not because others will think it is good. When we are rebuked for having done something wrong, we won't seek to justify ourselves, but will accept correction graciously, and work to better ourselves.

When we pray, in any circumstance, it is not as much about changing God or His plan, but about changing ourselves to bring ourselves more in line with His plan. We are all weak, even those with the greatest natural fortitude. Pride is an insidious sin, because it slips in just when we think we're doing all right. Grace builds upon nature--divine fortitude strengthens our natural fortitude and enables us even more ably to defend against vice.

The litany serves to remind us just where we need to keep watch over our souls, and also asks God for that extra grace to be able to do so. And, most often, the answer to this prayer comes by being tested in just these areas. The prayer then isn't about denying the use of our own fortitude, but seeking opportunities to challenge it and grow even more toward perfection.

The only way you could say this is self-abasing and abusive is if you think your validity stems from the thoughts and feelings others have about you, and not from your own intrinsic value and dignity as a human person.

True humility involves a paradox: on the one hand, it is knowing yourself enough to be sure enough that you don't need the constant affirmation of others, and yet knowing yourself enough to recognise your weaknesses, and to ask for help to better yourself--to become a Saint.

(Wow! You asked an "easy" one for once!)

Kane Augustus said...

"The only way you could say this is self-abasing and abusive is if you think your validity stems from the thoughts and feelings others have about you, and not from your own intrinsic value and dignity as a human person.

But that's just it: I consider myself based on my own understanding of my intrinsic "value and dignity as a human person," not from anything anyone else thinks or feels about me.

And yet I still come to the conclusion that my natural drive to be accepted, welcomed, loved, extolled, honored, consulted, approved, even rebuked and despised (in-group/out-group mentalities can be an armour, as you well know from your time with Catholicism) is simply what being a human being entails. There's nothing I need deliverance from in that; nothing needing divine interference.

So it's self-abasing because it is a prayer against one's natural composition. One may as well pray, "God, deliver me from being human;
From living out the parameters you set in place.
Make me less than I am so that I can wallow in the misery of my denial of self-awareness."

From my point of view, that prayer and the one you posted equal the same thing.

Gregory said...

"From my point of view, that prayer and the one you posted equal the same thing."

Wrong premises will always lead to wrong conclusions like that, Kane. Your "prayer" and the one I posted are diametrically opposed to each other.

I suppose the poetic shorthand in which the Litany is written could have led to some of your confusion. After all, we do all desire to be loved--we are hardwired for community. But when that desire becomes a sycophantic codependence upon the opinions of others, then it is not healthy.

When we have what the Saints would call a "holy indifference" to these things, then we are truly stable, truly able to relate to and welcome others, to love them as other, not because we need something from them, but because we are fulfilled in ourselves, in our relationship and identity as loved children of God.

We become, in fact, more aware of ourselves, more confident in who we are when we have let ourselves become less in the eyes of the world, because we know that we are who and what we ought to be.

Our disordered loves, desires, and passions are not the parameters that God set in place. They are specifically disordered because our flesh--our passions and senses--is at war with our spirit--our intellect and will. We are made to seek the True and the Good, and yet our bodily desires seek to enjoy immediate and imitation goods, which, not being true, do not fully satisfy us, but are actually what make us less.

When we are so focused on the Ultimate Good and the Ultimate Truth, we can become more--because even if no one else loves us, we know that we are loved by Infinite Love.

Kane Augustus said...

Gregory--

Yeah, it could be the poetic shorthand that lends itself to some confusion, for me. I'm not inclined toward poetry in matters of religion, even despite having published poetry on a national and bi-national level.

Wherever the confusion comes from -- if it is, in fact, there -- something we both agree on is the pre-eminence of love and community.

On an individual to individual level, a "sycophantic codependence on the opinions of others" is really another form of self-denial: one cannot accurately take one's self into account and therefore lives in the shadows and distortions of their potential selves, all the while hoping to actuate through the estimations of others.

Given that though (and you may have seen this next question coming), why the need for God? Isn't he an abstracted version of the same flatterer that the self-denying codependent relies on for potential definition, rather than actual self-understanding? I suppose I just don't see how removing people from the equation of codependent relationships somehow purifies the concept of God and makes him not the same as the person/people who would otherwise take his place.

Cheers!
Kane

Gregory said...

Again, the error in your premise is supposing that God is either an abstracted idea, or a being like any other, one more "person" on the list. This is, it seems to me, the same error of thinking made by Dawkins, et al, when they complain that Christians posit a "God of the gaps", a deity that is only useful for explaining the (as yet) unexplained aspects of the world around us.

This is, of course, to utterly miss the point. God is not just one more, yet bigger and better, being among all others. He IS being. He is the source of all that is. Your question is as misguided as someone who thinks that simply filling his car with a better grade of petroleum will keep his diesel engine running cleaner.

We aren't designed to just love somebody. We're designed to love the God who is Love, and through Him, and when rightly ordered to Him, to love others.

Kane Augustus said...

I take your semantic point. Dawkins et al. do make the case that God is an abstracted being. So does Christianity when it posits that God is outside of space and time, that he has intransient attributes, that God is immutable in contrast to every other observable phenomena.

Then again, Aquinas played with the notion of Aristotle's ultimately simple God, and Tillich upped the ante a little more defining God as you just did when he suggested that God is the ground of all being.

The problem I have with all of those definitions is that they point to nothing in particular, and everything in general. It's saying a lot while saying nothing. It's connotative backwash where denotative refreshment is required.

So pointing at my premise that God as an abstract being misses your angle may be true: it may just miss your angle. The problem from my side of the conversation is that your angle is more like a smear: it's meant to add definition but it distorts.

Sorry to be so harsh, but I'm hoping to understand more, not fight for space on a canvass.

Gregory said...

I'm afraid that we can only speak of God abstractly in the same way that we speak of anyone abstractly, because we neither know nor fully understand the one about whom we are speaking.

The prayer I posted, in all it's poetic supplication, is addressing someone Whom I know. The words I have to describe Him are perhaps less denotative than you would like (though I'm not sure "connotative backwash" is a fair description--I've tried to be as plain as possible), but the abstraction remains for you simply because you have always tended to make religion and faith, and the God who is behind both, abstract matters of academia rather than immanent, tangible experiences of everyday life.

I remember a time when you were beginning to lose your faith, and I suggested that you spend some time before Jesus present in the Blessed Sacrament, you protested, almost whined, "Why are you making this so personal?"

If it isn't personal, if it isn't poetic, intimate, and lived, faith can only ever be an academic abstraction.

Kane Augustus said...

Gregory,

A while ago I commented back to you on this debate between us. Apparently, my comment was lost in the 'e'.

The gist of what I said was that, yes, I have a tendency to relegate things to subjects and topics. I keep things academic. It's almost as close to me as breathing, but I'm learning to relax that life-long, somewhat defensive tactic I developed to survive in my family.

Nevertheless, I think the issue of 'God' as an existent being is an add-on to natural existence. That is, we exist in nature, as nature, and that nature is all there is. God is a (crassly put) academic and imaginative abstraction that really doesn't provide any further understanding to our time on earth. The concept is useful as a myth; a mythopoetic interpretation of the natural world as present to our consciousness. After that, when such concepts mutate into dogmas, when the myth of God morphs into attempts at literal historical facts, God falls on his face for lack of comprehensibility.

Cheers!
Kane