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February 9, 2011

A Time To Pray

I have had a rough 24 hours. 

Have you ever heard of this prayer?  Litany of Humility

A little over a year ago, I was introduced to this prayer.  I prayed it fairly frequently for about six weeks.  What happened was a sequence of events in which I was humbled.  When the events happened, I didn't really think of the fact that I'd prayed to become more humble.  But as time wore on, I realized that I had been humbled by the events and I had even grown in my faith through this humility.

I haven't prayed the prayer really frequently since then.  I have thought about it and there is this nagging feeling that perhaps I should...but there is a human fear of doing it.  Because, quite frankly, being humble is difficult.  Praying for humility seems masochistic.  I know that the Lord heard my prayer because He gave me a six month span of time in which I was humbled by my circumstances...and when I remembered that I had actually asked for it, it really put a block somewhere in my head and my heart about praying for humility again. 

Humility is a virtue that is so difficult to grow in.  Our society tells us that being humble is bad.  We must "toot our horn" and make sure everyone acknowledges our gifts and talents.  We expect affirmation at every turn.  And those who don't notice how wonderful and how giving and how talented we are somehow fall into this category of adversary. 

I have seen this in a couple of different scenarios.  While I think families are there for support, acknowledgement, affirmation and such...sometimes (and to the detriment at times) there is so much support and acknowledgement and affirmation that one might grow up in their family never hearing they have done something wrong.  Parents don't want to discipline or for whatever reason they don't discipline and the children grow to expect that discipline is never necessary for their behavior.  Parents step in and berate teachers for a child's poor marks in school instead of searching deeper and perhaps discovering an underlying problem for their child with material.  Parents may complete their childrens' homework or check it long after such action is necessary in order to avoid their child ever experiencing a poor grade.  To avoid a humbling experience, accountability and responsibility are thrown by the wayside.

Another place I have seen this is within my workplace.  It's difficult to work for people sometimes.  I have found that perhaps I need to spend some time praying the Litany of Humility because lately, I have struggled with my management.  Perhaps I need to pray and really meditate on,

That others may be loved more than I
      Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.  
That others may be esteemed more than I, 

     Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it 
That in the opinion of the world,
 others may increase, and I may decrease,  
     Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it. 
That others may be chosen and I set aside,  
     Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.   
That others may be praised and I unnoticed,  
     Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.  
That others may be preferred to me in everything,  
    Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
 
This is a powerful prayer.  I remember when I spent time praying it for about six weeks.  I literally CRINGED every time I prayed this part.  My heart was crying, "NO!!!  I want to be LOVED!  I want to be ESTEEMED!  I do NOT like to be SET ASIDE!!"  And those cries were the little bits and pieces of my soul that cling to the world being chipped away so that I could be ready for the events that followed in the next six months.

So, yes, my friends.  I have had a rough go of it the past 24 hours. 

I have found out that I acted unkindly and hurt a friend. 

I have been on the end of the phone shaking and my heart pounding, feeling helpless, while I listened to my sister suffer through anxiety attacks. 

I have had a difficult conversation with a couple of people at work that have opened my eyes to my current reality and given me a certain focus for my future actions. 

I have forgotten valentines for my sweet baby girl Helen's class St. Valentine's party. 

I have lain awake in bed for two hours when I desperately needed to sleep contemplating many of these things. 

And then...it hit me this afternoon square between the eyes.  Prayer.  That Litany of Humility Prayer.  While it was painful to pray it prepared me for the events coming my way.  and I've been feeling a building lately that more events are on their way and I must be prepared.

I must pray.

O Jesus, meek and humble of heart, hear me.

From the desire of being esteemed, 
deliver me, Jesus.  (use this response after each line below)

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, 
deliver me, Jesus.   (use this response after each line below)
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.   (use this response after each line below)
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
.
Amen  
All of the virtues are the key to living like Christ.  However, the virtue of Humility speaks to me at times so much more than the rest.  How humble Christ was to live and walk on Earth as a human.  How humble Christ was to suffer and die...to be spat upon, ridiculed, beaten and crucified...for you and for me.  For all of us. 

Please Lord, grant me the perseverance to pray the Litany of Humility with all of my heart and to prepare to humble myself before You and before my fellow man.

10 comments:

  1. I plan on re-reading this once the children are in bed. Thank you for typing it up and sharing it. Be back later tonight.

    I agree. We all need this, certainly in trying times.

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  2. Thank you for sharing the Prayer of St. Francis. I stopped praying it after Mom died. Funny, God still let me learn plenty about humility even though I wasn't praying for it.

    Thank you for reminding me that it is okay if my voice is not heard or others may be preferred to me in everything.

    Thank you for reminding me to pray this prayer and return to where God wants me to be...the vocation of loving and teaching my children to Adore Him!

    Have a great night, Michelle. Love & Peace to You! Kelly

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  3. I'm glad you've brought this up. It's such a great prayer and so needed (but so hard to pray it!) I hope the rest of your week goes better!

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  4. I read this last night on my phone just before going to bed. You've been on my mind ever since. First, as I've been saying prayers for you - I'm so sorry you had such a rough day :(.

    Second, because as I read, I felt my insides push back against the words. And felt much the same as you indicated. I think it is time I introduce myself to the Litany of Humility.

    Thank-you for sharing this. Thank-you so much.

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  5. Perhaps God is trying to tell me something, for I saw your post just a bit after this one:
    http://crosstojoy.blogspot.com/search/label/litany%20of%20humility

    I am sorry that you're being humbled, but glad that you're receiving it as humility.

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  6. Thank you, Michelle! Humility is so rare and so needed in our world. My prayers are with you!

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  7. About half the days in my last 2 weeks have been like this. The forgetting, the shaking through stressfull phone calls, the inability to sleep. Not sure where I'm headed right now, but I appreciate this post.

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  8. The Litany of Humility is SO powerful. Every time I've prayed it regularly it's really brought me a lot of peace...although often painfully earned. Thank you for reminding us about it!

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  9. Awesome post, Michelle. Your previous post on the Litany of Humility (probably a year ago now) inspired me to start praying it, and you are right - it is HARD!! But it really has helped me to realize that difficult times are opportunities to grow in humility. (I make that sound so nice, huh? As you know, it's crazy hard and usually I'm going kicking and screaming!)

    Saying a prayer for you.

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  10. Thank you, thank you, thank you for reminding me of this litany! I need to start praying this daily. I agree that humility is such a hard virtue to work on because it goes against everything our culture tells us.

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Thank you for reading. I enjoy reading other perspectives, please feel free to share yours. :)