Teresa of Avila and the Litany of Humility

Reading Teresa of Avila for the first time is as distressing and horrifying as it is beautiful. The reason is that Teresa’s advice for how to progress in prayer and perfection goes against many of our natural inclinations to avoid suffering. She never spouts out platitudes about how much God loves us, or whether or not God desires us despite the foulness of our sins.  She assumes that you already know that. Teresa’s introductory advice is clear and concise.

Step 1. Get to know who you are in relation to God. Contemplate his holiness so that you get a very clear picture of your own wickedness. Contemplate the immense faith it takes to allow oneself to be crucified so that you will realize how quick you are to succumb to temptations. Contemplate the humility it takes for God to empty himself and become human, that you would recognize how prideful you are when someone inconveniences you.

Step 2. Do not be afraid to experience suffering. In fact, embrace it is a gift from God. Silence is a difficult thing because silence is pregnant. There are an infinite amount of possibilities that God can bring to our intellects when we are still. It’s one of the reasons we drown out the silence through our Netflix or Hulu accounts, twitter, or with music. The suffering of being silent is usually caused by all of our attachments to day-to-day life. How many times have we tried to remain silent for 2 or 3 minutes only be knocked out of it by some concern that God has probably already got covered? Do not give the Devil a chance to distract you with your own weakness. There is a tendency to think that if you did not “get something out of it”, it was fruitless. This is only Satan trying to discourage you. embrace the feeling of sometimes being lost. The Heavenly Father cast his own Son out into the desert to be tested. What makes his adopted children in Christ any different?

Step 3. Do not presume to tell his Majesty what you should receive in prayer and by what measure it should come to you. If you understand steps one and two, this will make perfect sense to you. If you really understood how gracious God was that he would even allow you to approach him, you would be content with the life you are getting ready to complain about. That is not to say that you should not bring your concerns to God in all things. What it does mean is that when you approach him, you should approach as one already thankful and content with what you have been given.

In that spirit, I thought that it would be great for you to join in on the prayer that we here at The Ol’ Catholic Try pray before every podcast. May it give you guidance and humility as you give it The Ol’ Catholic Try.

 

Litany of Humility

(Rafael Cardinal Merry del Val)

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 …
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 … Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it
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…