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Posts tagged ‘humility’

Jesus is the Lamb


It’s easy for me to anticipate Christmas and the birth of Jesus in forgetfulness of His sacrifice that we celebrate every Sunday.  It’s also more difficult to remember our call to mortification, let alone to accept the little sufferings I might face or the little acts of selflessness I am challenged to offer.  As I remember the coming celebration of Jesus’ birth in anticipation, I try to remind myself of St. John of Cross as he encourages us:

To endeavor always to incline oneself,

  • …  not to that which is easier, but to that which is more difficult;
  • …  not to that which is tasty, but to that which is more bitter;
  • …  not to that which is more pleasing, but to that which is less pleasing;
  • …  not to that which gives rest, but to that which demands effort;
  • …  not to that which is a consolation, but to that which is a source of sorrow;
  • …  not to that which is more, but to that which is less;
  • …  not to the lofty and precious, but to the lowly and despicable;
  • …  not to that which is to be something, but to that which is to be nothing;
  • …  not to be seeking the best in temporal things, but the worst,
  • …  and to desire to enter in all nakedness and emptiness and poverty through Christ in whatever there is in the world.

And while I try to endeavor as St. John suggests, it helps to seek the humility of Christ as well with the 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…

In this way, I think I can better appreciate and celebrate Christmas, the arrival of the Suffering Servant who came to set us free.

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A Rich Treasury


On this Wednesday of the Fifth Week of Lent, I continue my journey through Scott Hahn’s book, Lenten Reflections from A Father Who Keeps His Promises.

Today’s reading focuses on the Book of Psalms.  When I reflected on the reading, I realized that I really did not know a lot about the Psalms.  Sure, I have my favorite ones.  And yes, I know we regularly sing Psalms at Mass.  But I never really sat down and studied them in any depth.

So as I delved again into David’s lyrics, I began to appreciate better the beauty of these verses.  And I began to understand better why David is a Man After God’s Own Heart.

I found this wonderful document online breaking down the Book of Psalms as a parallel to each of the five books of the Pentateuch, providing examples.  I need to study this more closely.  It also divides the Psalms into several categories:  prophetic, personal (to the Psalmist), Passover, poetic, pilgrim and praises.

The Psalms seem to cover every aspect of our human condition: suffering and joy, despair and hope, promise and rejection.

Did you know that, of the 150 Psalms, approximately 65 contain complaints?   That’s almost half!

As I reflect on my human condition, especially my suffering (and even more specifically, the self-inflicted suffering), two Psalms stand out in my mind:

“Be still and know that I am God!”  Ps. 46:11.

and

“I do not busy myself with great matters, with things too sublime for me.”  Ps. 131:1.

Each of these reminds me of my place in the Creation.  You see, much of my suffering can be attributed to one thing:  a distorted self-image.

Sometimes I think too highly of myself, like I’m God’s gift to . . . whomever.  When I take on this attitude, I begin to take on an air of entitlement.

“How dare you cut me off!  I’m entitled to that part of the pavement!”

“I deserve this larger piece of cake!”

“How could they do that to me?!”

I think you get the picture.  Me. Me. Me.  I’m the focus.

On the other hand, I sometimes think too lowly of myself.

“How can God forgive me?”

“I am not worthy of God’s love!”

“I don’t deserve . . . .”

The problem, here, is that I don’t fully accept the graces and mercies that God offers.  And it leads to moping and self-pity.

In either case, my focus is squarely on myself.

That’s where the two Psalms come in.  They each tend to take my focus off myself.  They remind me that I am creature, not creator.  And that our Creator has everything under His control.  I need not worry.  He loves me.  He will provide.

One of my prayers is that I see myself through God’s eyes.  Loved, but not perfect.  Humble, but not humiliated.

Once I do that, I start to get my priorities straight and can truly praise God.  Like in the shortest Psalm:

Praise the LORD, all you nations!
Extol him, all you peoples!
His mercy for us is strong;
the faithfulness of the LORD is forever.
Hallelujah!

Psalm 117

Day 36-2

David, a man after God’s own heart, plunges deep into his own heart to communicate his love to God, delivering his heart and soul to the Father.  He bares all and in doing so, models for us true intimacy with God.
Day 36-1

A Servant’s Heart


On this Tuesday of the Fifth Week of Lent, I continue my journey through Scott Hahn’s book, Lenten Reflections from A Father Who Keeps His Promises.

As noted in an earlier post, King David viewed all the blessings surrounding him, recognized their source and sought to reciprocate.  He knew that God had given him a beautiful palace, and yet God dwelled in a lowly tent.  So David planned to build a home for God.

God’s response?  “You ain’t seen nuttin’ yet!”

I will make your name like that of the greatest on earth.  I will assign a place for my people Israel and I will plant them in it to dwell there; they will never again be disturbed, nor shall the wicked ever again oppress them, as they did at the beginning, and from the day when I appointed judges over my people Israel.  I will give you rest from all your enemies.  Moreover, the LORD also declares to you that the LORD will make a house for you: when your days have been completed and you rest with your ancestors, I will raise up your offspring after you, sprung from your loins, and I will establish his kingdom.  He it is who shall build a house for my name, and I will establish his royal throne forever.  I will be a father to him, and he shall be a son to me.  If he does wrong, I will reprove him with a human rod and with human punishments; but I will not withdraw my favor from him as I withdrew it from Saul who was before you. Your house and your kingdom are firm forever before me; your throne shall be firmly established forever.  2 Sm. 7:9-16.

How does David respond? First, with humility:

Who am I, Lord GOD, and what is my house, that you should have brought me so far?  2 Sm. 7:18.

And then with grateful praise:

Therefore, great are you, Lord GOD! There is no one like you, no God but you, as we have always heard.  2 Sm. 7:22.

King David sets a wonderful example of how to be thankful:  True gratitude begins with humility.

It is not possible to be truly grateful without recognizing our humble position in relationship to the source of our blessings.  How can a proud heart ever truly be grateful?  Deep in its recesses, a proud heart believes it deserves its blessings.

I think this is why an attitude of gratitude is the remedy to so many maladies; because the effort to recognize my blessings encourages a humble heart, reminding me of my need for God, our Creator.

I am reminded of a friend who recently blogged about her recent experience with gratitude.  She was having a grumpy day and recognized this immediately.  But she also recognized the remedy:  gratitude.  So she began a Gratitude List.  As she so wisely notes, “Nothing like a gratitude list to cure a bout of self-pity.”

It’s hard to suffer self-pity with a humble heart.

Day 35-1 Maybe this is what it means for David to be “a man after God’s own heart.”  Maybe David, with a humble heart, is reflecting the Love that is God.  Like Mary, who proclaims that her soul magnifies the Lord, maybe the servant’s heart is like a polished mirror that reflects God to all around us.Day 35-2

From Chaos to Cosmos


On this First Sunday of Lent, I continue my journey through Scott Hahn’s book, Lenten Reflections from A Father Who Keeps His Promises.

This week the book focuses on the Creation Story. The first day’s reading looks at the fact of God’s creative power. It is an awesome reminder of our relationship with God and our proper place as his creation. He is creator. We are created.

I find this concept to be very comforting.  One of my favorite Psalms, Ps. 46:11, echoes this:

“Be still and know that I am God!”

Or, to paraphrase:

“Chill!  Trust me!  I made you, and everything around you. I got it under control!”

(more…)

Crown of Thorns


20130212-072904-220130212-072826.jpgI usually find it very easy to feel slighted by my fellow sufferer.  Take this morning.  My typical morning route takes me on a road that expands and constricts along the route. At one intersection there are two lanes each way plus a turn lane, but a short distance beyond the traffic signal it quickly narrows to one lane in each direction. Most motorists seem to recognize this fact and patiently line up in the left of the two west-bound lanes. But occasionally—and it happened this morning—a car will pull up in the right lane when the light is red, obviously intending to continue forward and, at least from my perspective, cut in front of the patient motorists waiting in the left lane. This always irks me.

Or take last night.  I ran to the local drugstore for Tylenol for my ailing son.  It was ugly out.  I had just finished my evening treadmill run and was feeling dirty in my sweats.  I’m standing in the pain reliever aisle looking for something I later find out they don’t have when this woman cuts in front of me without so much as an “excuse me.”  Admittedly, I was already in a foul mood so it didn’t take much to get under my skin, but in hindsight I’m glad I didn’t vocalize my irritation.  But I was irked!

20130212-072846.jpg

When I catch myself thinking bad things about the other motorist or the [marginally] rude shopper, I try to remind myself of the Lord’s Prayer admonition, “forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.not that I would call either “affront” a trespass. But this exercise isn’t always easy for me and the hard feelings don’t always disappear quickly.

But later this morning, while praying the Rosary, I snagged on the third Mystery, the crowning with thorns, and it forced my selfishness into a glaring spotlight. The reflection talked about Jesus’ suffering:

Think of the indignity, outrage, pain, and humiliation that Jesus suffered. They stripped Him of every dignity, He was treated as the guilt of our worst sins.

Imagine Jesus through the Sorrowful Mysteries:  He Suffered His Agony in the Garden, was Scourged at the Pillar and then Crowned with Thorns, all the while anticipating the long and arduous journey to His execution under the burden of the Cross and then, ultimately, Crucifixion.  And all for me.  It really puts things into their proper perspective.  So this guy gets to move ahead an extra four or five cars. So what!  And what if that woman—she had been sniffling—was in a hurry to take care of a child sicker than mine or had her own health issues?

20130212-072807.jpg

In the light of Christ’s suffering, these minor inconveniences—tiny slights—should be easy to bear if I take on the mantle of humility and accept small bits of suffering.

Let us ask the gift of patience to accept all humiliations, thinking of how Jesus suffered for us.

Do small things with great love


A great quote from Blessed Teresa of Calcutta

Drunken Bliss


or Reflections of a (Seldom) Sober Conscience

Seven pence and a peso, too,
Were all i had, and a soleless shoe,
To put my son through college.

So i took two pence and i bought the News
And i thought, “surely, now they can’t refuse
To hire a High School Drop-Out.”

But i didn’t get to the classifieds.
The cinema blue is what i spied
And there went a pence and a peso.

My threadbare coat was a sight to see
But the ladies there were nice to me
So there went two more pennies.

When they saw those two round Lincoln-heads
Their heads ’bout burst and they turn’d bright red
And they threw me out the window.

And there i lay with a swollen eye
When i heard behind an embarrassed sigh
And i ducked what i thought was coming.

(more…)

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