Prayer of humility catholic

From A Catholic Prayer Book

Rafael Cardinal Merry del Val (1865-1930), Secretary of State to Pope Saint Pius X

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…

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Humility is the prize of all the virtues, and practicing it well is the key to obtaining all the rest.  Penance, fasting, and almsgiving, all highlighted during the Lenten season, are ways to cultivate humility in our hearts, in addition to reciting this beautiful prayer.

The Litany of Humility is attributed to Rafael Cardinal Merry del Val (1865-1930) who served as the Secretary of State for Pope St. Pius X.

Although this prayer is wonderful to pray regularly when our pride rears its ugly head, it is an especially poignant prayer and meditation for the Lenten season.  Our ultimate example in humility is our Savior Jesus Christ, who willingly suffered in silence on our behalf each one of the things listed in this litany.

prayer of humility catholic

THE 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, Deliver me, Jesus.

From the desire of being extolled, Deliver me, Jesus.

From the desire of being honored, Deliver me, Jesus.

From the desire of being praised, Deliver me, Jesus.

From the desire of being preferred to others, Deliver me, Jesus.

From the desire of being consulted, Deliver me, Jesus.

From the desire of being approved, Deliver me, Jesus.

From the fear of being humiliated, Deliver me, Jesus.

From the fear of being despised, Deliver me, Jesus.

From the fear of suffering rebukes, Deliver me, Jesus.

From the fear of being calumniated, Deliver me, Jesus.

From the fear of being forgotten, Deliver me, Jesus.

From the fear of being ridiculed, Deliver me, Jesus.

From the fear of being wronged, Deliver me, Jesus.

From the fear of being suspected, Deliver me, 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, 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. Amen.

prayer of humility catholic

This article has been updated and was originally published in February 2013. © The Catholic Company. All rights reserved.

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Mother Teresa is famously quoted as saying that “Humility is the mother of all virtues”. To my “taxonomical” mind, which tends to structure things in hierarchies in order to understand them, the words of this saint were difficult to accept. Surely, the great theological virtues of faith, hope and especially, love, could not be outranked by this virtue of humility?

The great St Paul praised these virtues as the things that last and the Church teaches that they are only obtainable as divine gifts. The words of this great saint could be better understood, and appreciated, in a very different perspective. Mary, our Blessed Mother, is the key to this understanding.

Most of us are somewhat familiar with the life of Mary from the gospel passages. She was mentioned several times, especially in the nativity accounts and the Gospel of John. However, with very few exceptions, she does not feature prominently in these narratives. She is best known for her “Fiat” when she said “Let it be done to me” to the angel Gabriel during the Annunciation, and also her “Magnificat” when she sang divinely-inspired praises for her Lord. Aside from these, she is almost never the central figure in accounts where she is mentioned. There were even passages where she was hardly noticeable. Many would miss her in the passage recounting how the disciples waited in the upper room in prayer for the Holy Spirit. In short, Mary seems like an obscure figure and her role in the mission of Christ appears to be insignificant aside from giving birth to him.

Yet looking at the world today, and the history of Christianity, she cannot be more prominent. She is central in several infallible dogmas of the Church, she is the subject of countless artworks and hymns, she has been crowned with numerous titles, she was reported to be seen in scores of apparitions (of which one began the conversion of a nation), uncountable holy men and women are devoted to her and as we can see today, Marian devotion is visible in virtually every part of the Catholic and Orthodox world.

How can this be? That a little-known village girl with hardly any mighty deeds could be esteemed above all angels and saints? Who can imagine the heights of this glory? Over the centuries, the Church has developed a clearer understanding of the Revelation from her Lord that these words may be fulfilled: “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now”.

Read: Mary barely speaks in the New Testament, but her image and legacy are found and celebrated around the world

At first, it may seem strange that one who received few mentions in the Bible could become so important. Perhaps this is the modus operandi of the God whose “thoughts are not your thoughts”. St Paul recalls God’s words to him in 2 Corinthians 12:9 when he wrote, “My grace is sufficient for you for my power is made perfect in weakness.”

We can reason from here, and many other writings, that God’s power is the greatest when he works through weakness and lowliness. One who is truly weak and lowly, must recognise that he or she is so, and is therefore humble. In the eyes of God, one who is lowly and humble, to the point of appearing insignificant to the ways of the world, is truly great because only then would his powers be truly manifested.

Now, we can now begin to understand why God has chosen that Christ, the salvation of the world, would come through the lowly and most humble maiden Mary.

Through Mary, the virtue of humility can be understood more deeply. Humility may not be a virtue that is often mentioned, or exalted as mighty. But we should not underestimate it, because God chooses to work through it. His gifts of theological virtues then, are most perfect when manifested through humility. Just as Christ came through the womb of Mary, who seemed nothing more than an insignificant village girl, so too do the great theological virtues come through the womb of humility, the mother of all virtues.

By Erwin Susanto

Top photo: Mosaic made of 15, 000 hand-painted Easter eggs, Oksana Mas (Оксана Мась) in St Sophia Cathedral, Kiev, Ukraine
Photo by Frans Sellies © All rights reserved. 

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prayer of humility catholic

prayer of humility catholic

What is Humility?

Many people think that humility means that we think badly about ourselves. That, however, is not what humility really is. Humility is seeing ourselves as we are. We recognize our lowliness before God. Knowing that we are not perfect, we accept the fact that we are flawed, and we trust that God will do the work in us that needs to be done (so long as we allow him to). In humility, we also can recognize our good qualities, virtues, and talents, and we thank God for these gifts.

Humility is, in a sense, self-forgetful. It involves focusing on ourselves less, rather than focusing on our bad qualities.

Humility and Lent

Some important things we emphasize during Lent are doing penance, practicing self-denial, giving to others, and repenting of our sins. These are all ways to cultivate humility. We focus less on ourselves and more on others. We turn to God seeking his grace to help us become more virtuous.

The Litany of Humility is a prayer than invites God to give us the grace we need to grow in humility. It is a way of reminding us of what humility is. Praying the Litany of Humility is often very difficult, because it is very hard to let go of ourselves and put others first. However, in its very difficulty, it can be a powerful prayer to bring us closer to Christ.

The Litany of Humility is attributed to Rafael Cardinal Merry del Val (1865-1930) who served as the Secretary of State for Pope St. Pius X.

Do you constantly worry about what others talk or think about you? Do you ever feel frustrated or empty when you’re not the center of attention? The Litany of Humility is all about our Lord assisting us in humbly following in his footsteps and taking aside, or at least offering up to Him, all those fears and doubts that come when we are self-centered.

Although this prayer is wonderful to pray regularly, it is an especially poignant prayer and meditation for the Lenten season.  Our ultimate example in humility is our Savior Jesus Christ, who willingly suffered in silence on our behalf each one of the things listed in this litany.

prayer of humility catholic

THE 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, Deliver me, Jesus.

From the desire of being extolled, Deliver me, Jesus.

From the desire of being honored, Deliver me, Jesus.

From the desire of being praised, Deliver me, Jesus.

From the desire of being preferred to others, Deliver me, Jesus.

From the desire of being consulted, Deliver me, Jesus.

From the desire of being approved, Deliver me, Jesus.

From the fear of being humiliated, Deliver me, Jesus.

From the fear of being despised, Deliver me, Jesus.

From the fear of suffering rebukes, Deliver me, Jesus.

From the fear of being calumniated, Deliver me, Jesus.

From the fear of being forgotten, Deliver me, Jesus.

From the fear of being ridiculed, Deliver me, Jesus.

From the fear of being wronged, Deliver me, Jesus.

From the fear of being suspected, Deliver me, 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, 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. Amen.

Clearing Up Some Misconceptions

Some of the lines in the Litany of Humility may seem unhealthy to modern ears. Therefore, it is useful to examine these petitions in more detail to see what they really mean.

For example, human beings are created for love. We are created to love others, and our desire to be loved is part of being human. That is why God said that it was not good for Adam to be alone. The Litany of Humility does not mean that we are supposed to be isolated and not care at all about having loving relationships. Instead, it means that we shouldn’t desire excessive love. We should want people to love us in a healthy way rather than always seeking more and more to an unhealthy degree.

It is normal for us to want people to seek our opinion, to prefer us to others, and to approve of and praise us. While this is normal, these desires can be unhealthy. Ultimately, what matters is that we decrease and Jesus increases, as John the Baptist said (John 3:30). Decreasing in the eyes of other people allows Jesus to increase in us.

Just think of the peace that can come if we truly desire the things we pray for in this Litany, and if we are truly freed from the fears mentioned in the prayer! We can spend so much time worrying about what other people think of us, and this can steal our joy. When we start to consider first of all what is good for others, regardless of what it brings to our own reputation, we are less distressed when we do not get the recognition we feel we deserve.

Ultimately, while the Litany of Humility can be difficult to pray, it is about finding freedom and peace in God instead of relying on other human beings for our happiness.

The Humility of Jesus

Jesus Christ Himself gave His life for us in the most poignant example of humility that we can imagine! The Creator 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 once 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).

The last petition of the litany of humility strongly suggests what holiness includes: 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).

This Lent, may we pray to receive a true spirit of humility. When Easter comes, may we be closer to God, and may God be greater in our lives than he was on Ash Wednesday.

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