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Litany of Humility

Fr. Scott Haynes
Overview
The Litany of Humility is a moving prayer that can bring us closer to Christ. Do you worry constantly about what others think of you? Do you feel empty or frustrated if you are not the center of attention? The litany of humility asks for our Lord’s assistance in humbly following in His footsteps and casting aside, or at least offering up to Him, all those nagging doubts and fears that come with our self-centeredness.


Jesus is “meek and humble of heart” (Matt 11:29), and so we ask in this litany, composed by Rafael Cardinal Merry de Val (1865-1930), the Secretary of State for Pope Saint Pius X, that God fill our hearts and souls with genuine humility, an essential virtue for holiness. After all, as we read in the letter of St. James:
“God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble” (James 4:6).

Litany of Humility

O Jesus! meek and humble of heart, hear me. From the desire of being esteemed, deliver me, O Jesus. From the desire of being loved, deliver me, O Jesus. From the desire of being extolled, deliver me, O Jesus. From the desire of being honored, deliver me, O Jesus. From the desire of being praised, deliver me, O Jesus. From the desire of being preferred to others, deliver me, O Jesus. From the desire of being consulted, deliver me, O Jesus. From the desire of being approved, deliver me, O Jesus. From the fear of being humiliated, deliver me, O Jesus. From the fear of being despised, deliver me, O Jesus. From the fear of suffering rebukes, deliver me, O Jesus. From the fear of being calumniated, deliver me, O Jesus. From the fear of being forgotten, deliver me, O Jesus. From the fear of being ridiculed, deliver me, O Jesus. From the fear of being wronged, deliver me, O Jesus. From the fear of being suspected, deliver me, O Jesus.

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, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it. 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. That others may become holier than I, provided that I may become as holy as I should, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.

Final Thoughts

The final petition of the litany of humility powerfully suggests what holiness entails: loving God and neighbor above all else, putting others' needs before ours. We are not to worry how we “rank” in godliness. Otherwise, we might as well be like the Pharisees our Lord scorned who took more delight in the trappings of religion, rather than in love of God and neighbor, so that:
“...all their works they do in order to be seen” (Matt 23:5).
In seeking God’s help to cast out our sins of pride we are in tune with our Lord’s famous Gospel message:
“He who exalts himself will be humbled and he who humbles himself will be exalted” (Matt 23:12).
When we talk about pride here, we’re not talking about how you feel when your child wins a spelling bee, for example. We’re talking about one of the deadliest of sins, the pride which causes haughtiness, jealousy, or anger over slights or insults.

Speaking of insults, Cardinal de Val may very well have had our Lord’s Sermon on the Mount in mind when he mentioned the fear of being mistreated in various ways in the litany of humility. Jesus consoles us with the thought that when we are persecuted for His sake we should
“...rejoice and exult, because your reward is great in heaven” (Matt 5:12).
Jesus Himself gave His life for us in the most poignant example of humility we can imagine! The Creator of the Universe took on our flesh and our sins for our salvation, to be born in a manger and die on a cross between two thieves! As St. Paul wrote,
“He emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness; and found human in appearance, He humbled Himself, becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross. Because of this, God greatly exalted Him” (Phil 2:7-9).
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