Mocking of Christ by Annibale Carracci Source: Wiki Commons

December 1, 2014

A Prayer for Humility This Advent

The Season of Advent has begun in both the Eastern and Western churches. Christians now enter in to a time of fasting and penitence in preparation on the birth of our Lord (although the penitential nature has been pretty much lost in America due to the slow erosion that is The War on Advent). In addition to abstaining from certain foods, it is always a good idea to fill the void created by fasting from so many good things with increased prayer and almsgiving as well. In that spirit, I offer this prayer that I’ve found to be profound in its radical call to trust in Christ. The prayer is known as the Litany of Humility and it is as follows:

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…

Eve Tushnet, author of Gay & Catholic (which was the topic of a recent discussion hosted by Fare Forward that I wrote a reflection on), recently shared this prayer with me. Written by Rafael Cardinal Merry del Val, the Secretary of State for Pope Pius X, the prayer is also found in a book of Eastern Orthodox Prayers released by All Saints of Alaska Orthodox Church (this same book has a prayer to St. Thomas Aquinas, who is not a saint in the Eastern Orthodox Church).

I have a special appreciation for this prayer because of the radical degree to which it calls us to depend on Christ. Speaking just for myself, I know that most of my choices and actions are taken in order to please other people. There is nothing wrong with this in and of itself, but taken as an absolute principle it is certainly disordered. At its root is a fear that if I were rejected by everyone, that would be the worst that could possibly happen to me. This prayer grounds me firmly in the knowledge that I am loved by Christ completely and fully. It reminds me that even “when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely,” I’m still loved by Christ. It also drives me to seek reality; not what my own opinion of myself is and what others think about me.  Praying this, I ask God to help me not fear correction and embrace what feel like harsh criticism.

In the second part of the prayer, I pray to be not only be delivered from fear but to positively wish for grace necessary to desire the good of others at the expense of ourselves and our own desires. Once our fears are removed, I need to ask God for the grace to fill the void as our fears retreat.

Advent is the time to “Continue in prayer and watch in the same with thanksgiving” and be reminded of the profound humility of Christ as he became an infant to save us.  I hope this prayer helps you as it has helped me


 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *