Scripture readings for March 29

And the one who humbles himself will be exalted

What does it mean to humble oneself and why is it such big deal? St. Bernard defines humility as follows: “A virtue by which a man knowing himself as he truly is, abases himself.” Let’s break this down into two sections.

“A man who knows himself as he truly is” recognizes that he is a creature made by God in His image and likeness and therefore he possesses great dignity whose purpose is to love God and his fellow man. As a creature he is submissive to his creator and subject to his limitations. At the same time he recognizes his fellow man possesses the same dignity as he and is therefore equal. He does not presume to rise above God nor does he lord himself over his fellow man; rather, he places himself at the service of God and man.

march 29 picThe second part is “abases himself” which seems like a peculiar line. This does not mean that a man denies his God-given gifts, talents, or abilities. This would not be the truth because God created him good. Making such claims would be false humility. Rather a man recognizes such gifts appropriately and uses them to glorify God and build up the Kingdom of Heaven.

So the next time someone pays you a compliment because of a talent, don’t deny it. Give credit where credit is due. Simply say “Thank you,” praise God for it, and use it to serve others. Humility is the beginning of the Christian life. St. Augustine says “Humility is the foundation of all the other virtues hence, in the soul in which this virtue does not exist there cannot be any other virtue except in mere appearance.”

The Litany of Humility is a beautiful prayer. It’s a reminder to live each day truthfully and not for yourself. I recommend praying it daily – it will change your life.

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…

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