Lately, I’ve taken to saying the Litany of Humility. It was recommended to me by a priest-friend as part of my spiritual exercises.

I must admit that I balked at first. Me? In need of more humility? You’re kidding, right? I’m often told that I’m a very humble person and have never seen myself a prideful, although I’ll agree that I am considerably stubborn. So, why in the world would I need the Litany of Humility?

Now that I’ve been praying it daily for a while, I understand why I do indeed need it.

It’s not because I have an over-inflated opinion of myself. I don’t. It’s not that I think I’m never wrong. I do, and I often am. It’s not that I think I’m more talented than others. I know I’m not. There are others who are far more talented than I am.

No, it’s because I think I know my own worth better than God does.

Maybe that sounds ridiculous, but hear me out. There’s a huge difference between underestimating your worth and being truly humble. When you think you know better than your Creator who you are and what you’re good for, you’re not really being humble. You’re actually – in a convoluted way – being prideful because you think you know better than God.

No, God. I’m not worth what you say I’m worth. I’m worth what I say I’m worth.

I think this quote from St. Teresa of Avila will help me to explain my point.

Humility does not disturb or disquiet or agitate, however great it may be; it comes with peace, delight, and calm. . . . The pain of genuine humility doesn’t agitate or afflict the soul; rather, this humility expands it and enables it to serve God more. --St Teresa of Avila

Just as prideful persons become agitated by insults or undervaluation, falsely humble persons become agitated by praise and what they consider overvaluation. Genuinely humble persons don’t become agitated by praise or attention, nor do they become insistent on their own self-image. Rather, they look to God as their measuring stick, so to speak, and take their que from the signs and messages that he provides to them.

Godly humility enables you to better serve God by allowing you to accept what God has given you. It allows you to spread your wings and soar – not on your own volition, but on the grace and support of the God who made you and cherishes you as the apple of his eye. It encourages you to try things you’ve never tried before, not because you think you’re unbeatable, but because you’re convinced it’s what God is asking of you.

Humility isn’t about lowering oneself; it’s about putting your preconceived notions aside and serving God with all your strength and in the manner he asks of you.

In that respect, there is tremendous power in humility. It takes the onus off your self-valuation and instead places it on the value God has given to you. Genuine, godly humility is a powerful force that knows no bounds because it’s God’s power that gives you flight rather than your own. What’s more, you know that’s how it all works.

With that in mind, praying the Litany of Humility has completely changed my perspective.

Litany of Humility

Rafael Cardinal Merry del Val (1865-1930),
Secretary of State for 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…