I find myself being challenged daily by The Litany of Humility. Letting go of certain desires and fears is not easy. A daily dose of God’s grace is a must. The phrase in the prayer that struck me the most was, “That others may become holier than I, provided I become as holy as I should.” It took a while for that idea to sink in. As a Christian, I’m supposed to seek holiness. Asking “that others become holier than I” felt like I might be slacking off on my own pursuit of holiness. Then a thought occurred to me. Perhaps this phrase is another way of saying, “Don’t let me become a ‘holier than thou’ Christian.”
Godly humility seeks the best for others. This means that my motivation must be rooted in a desire for others to have the best of what God has to offer, in this life and in the next. In other words, my desire must be for others to become saints. Consider the Works of Mercy, for example.
The corporal works of mercy are:
- To feed the hungry;
- To give drink to the thirsty;
- To clothe the naked;
- To harbour the harbourless;
- To visit the sick;
- To ransom the captive;
- To bury the dead.
The spiritual works of mercy are:
- To instruct the ignorant;
- To counsel the doubtful;
- To admonish sinners;
- To bear wrongs patiently;
- To forgive offences willingly;
- To comfort the afflicted;
- To pray for the living and the dead.
How easy it can be to instruct the ignorant, counsel the doubtful or admonish sinners in ways that are not merciful or charitable. Apologetics of the Faith, for instance, seeks to defend the Faith, yet can so often come across as uncharitable or arrogant. If I speak the truth, but not in love, I am serving myself, not others. Faith, hope and charity. The greatest of these is charity (love) (1Cor 13).
I left Catholicism in my twenties after encountering Fundamentalists that used Scripture to show me all the things that were “wrong” with my Catholic faith. When I finally realized the error of my ways and returned to Catholicism, I had to be careful not to have a chip on my shoulder. It was easy for me to have an attitude of, “Now I’ll show them how wrong they were to pull me away from my Faith.” I lacked humility on more than one occasion. I had a “holier than thou” attitude that sought not the holiness of others, but the self satisfaction of “winning an argument.” Many of those Fundamentalists were holy, loving people who knew Jesus and meant well.
I do believe that the Catholic Church is the Church established by Jesus Christ. I believe that Catholicism contains the fullness of the Faith in her teachings, her authority and her sacraments. There are lots of folks that attack Catholicism, from within and from without. Archbishop Fulton Sheen once said, “There are perhaps a few hundred people that actually hate Catholicism. But there are millions of people who hate what they wrongly believe to be Catholicism.” I want to be able to defend my faith with Scripture, with Apostolic Sacred Tradition, with reason, with love and with humility (1Peter 3:15). Most of all, I want to live my faith with humility. If I’m not doing that, what good is my faith to anyone?
Lord, grant me the grace to desire it.