Tuesday, March 18, 2014

March 18, 2014 Tuesday: Divine Mercy Week 4, Pray for humility in priests




Have you eaten humble pie before? It doesn’t taste good at first, does it? But it certainly does our body and soul good afterwards, right? Let me ask you this question: What was our Lord’s favorite virtue? Was it Faith? … certainly high up there … Hope? … rank it near the top … Charity? … think how often the Master spoke of love. But all of these pale, and take second place to our Lord’s favorite virtue — humility. In the words of St. Therese the Little Flower, “The beginning of all holiness is humbly admitting that without God we can do nothing, but that, with, in, and through him, everything is possible!”

This week, let us pray for humility in our priests. For our priests to live a life of humility is to follow in the footsteps of Jesus. Why is humility so prized by Jesus? Maybe because his mission as our redeemer was precisely to save us from the opposite of humility — pride — the original sin by which our first parents felt they could get along just fine without God. As St. Augustine observed, “It was pride that caused the Fall…. If you ask me what are the ways to God, I would tell you the first is humility, the second is humility, the third is humility….”

There is a danger of Pelagianism in priestly life. Pelagianism says that we can achieve, or merit our own redemption, to think that salvation depends on us. It’s really the opposite of humility, an exaltation of human ability. Pelagianism is a danger in priestly life because priests are called to do so many spiritual duties — daily Mass, divine office, meditation, confession, spiritual reading, acts of penance, striving for virtue, exercises of devotion. Priests do them, though, not to earn or produce holiness — that’s Pelagianism — but to open ourselves humbly to the power of God’s love. Priests should never believe that the vigor, the orthodoxy, the salvation of the Church depends on them. Nor should priests insist on their own teachings apart from the Magisterium of the Church. One cardinal remarked, “I always worry about a young man who feels he is the Church’s savior. The Church happens already to have one!”

Humility teaches priests to admit that they really deserve nothing at all, and that, in the long run, honors, attention, and prestige are dangerous and better off avoided. In the words of St. Paul, “If I am to boast, I boast in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.” This exaggerated emphasis on personal rights is an overemphasis on the self, which is the opposite of the way it should be. Mother Teresa, in her characteristic simplicity, says the proper order of priorities in life is J-O-Y: J — Jesus O — Others Y — You.

The ways to humility for priests are intense and silent prayer, regular confession, and openness to criticism. Let us pray and encourage our priests to be open to humility.

(The reflection above was taken in part from Cardinal Timothy Dolan’s Priests for the Third Millenium)

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…