The Litany of Humility and its Implications

By Daniel Kocimski

During my first year of Seminary formation, our Vice-Rector preached early one fall morning on a prayer called “The Litany of Humility.” He explained that at the turn of the 20th century, Cardinal Rafael Merry de Val, then Secretary of State for Pope Saint Pius X, composed a litany for his own private devotion petitioning the Lord for the virtue of humility. After sharing it with a few fellow members of the Curia, he was encouraged to circulate the prayer, which he entitled “The Litany of Humility,” throughout the wider Church.

The Litany:

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…

From Abraham to Moses to Mary to the life of Christ, it is evident throughout Salvation History that the Lord has never failed to fulfill the words he authored in the Epistle from St. James: “God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble” (James 4:6). The litany profoundly testifies to this fact and thus affirms humility as an essential virtue for genuine holiness.

Furthermore, the various characteristics and emotions which we pray to be delivered from underline the nature of sin as an inclination to turn inward to ourselves, or as St. Augustine termed it, incurvatus in se. To combat this, we pray for humility in the litany, and in doing so we profess a belief in the universal vocation to love the Lord with our whole heart, soul and mind and to place the needs of our neighbors before our own (Matthew 22: 37-38). To be clear, the prideful tendencies and social commendations the litany speaks of are not the same emotions experienced when our kid wins an athletic trophy or our boss approves of our project. No, Cardinal de Val is warning us against a deadly vice, the hubris and self-absorption that precipitated the downfall of Achilles, Adam and Eve, and even Judas Iscariot. When we fearfully comply with the social trappings of this world, we place ourselves in bondage to a world where our dignity and happiness are contingent and conditional. Rather, with humility, we echo what the Psalmist sang long ago: “Only in God is my soul at rest” (Ps 61:1).

Therefore, my brothers, let us pray the litany of humility to remind ourselves that there is no resting, no fulfillment, no enthrallment, no completion, anywhere short of a life-long embrace of the Triune God.


Exclusive: A Newly Available Hobby Lobby Opinion

This opinion never made it into U.S. Reports. It should be placed there. The author wishes to remain anonymous.


Justice —–, concurring.

I join the majority opinion in full. I offer these thoughts because both the opinion of the Court and the dissenting opinions are troubling.

I.  The Majority Opinion

The majority writes that the Hahns and Greens have a “sincere religious belief that life begins at conception.” I disagree. That life begins at conception is a fact – as much of a fact as the observation that the Earth is round. See —–.

The religious question is not whether life begins at conception. It does. Rather, the religious question is how does our Creator wish us to act in light of that fact or, put more provocatively, what choices does the Creator sanction once a new human being exists? The Greens and Hahn answer that question the same way many others do: they believe that it is wrong to participate in destroying life that the Creator has willed into existence. The fundamental purpose of the guarantee of religious freedom is to allow people like the Greens and Hahns to refuse to participate. They are no different from any other conscientious objector. Except for describing the fact that life begins at conception as a sincerely held religious belief, the majority does an excellent job of explaining that religious liberty protects freedom of action — the freedom to respond to the objective facts about our Creator and the way the Creator calls us to be.

II.  The Principal Dissent

My disagreement with the principal dissent is profound. The principal dissent defends coercion in the name of freedom; justifies taking away choice in the name of choice; opposes what it perceives as absolutism with an all-the-more dangerous absolutism. I do not believe that the author of the principal dissent views her words this way or would approve of anyone using her words to justify HHS’ actions if she understood them to mean what I believe they say. Nonetheless, I cannot remain silent.

First, the principal dissent argues that religious people have no business using the corporate form for religious ends; that the corporate form with its attendant benefits may be used for a certain set of privileged purposes (that is, those purposes of which the principal dissent approves) but no others.

This argument is premised on a set of assumptions that strikes at the heart of the First Amendment. The First Amendment guarantees government neutrality among religions. The Framers prohibited the establishment of an official religion. The government would never be permitted to deem a particular religion as the official one and compel adherence at the point of a gun.

The Framers did not envision the principal dissent. They understood the will to rule, to dominate, to coerce. They understood that that will to power would seep through any crack. They thought the First Amendment provided a sure guarantee of religious freedom.

What they did not – indeed, could not – envision was that those seeking power would jettison the Creator in their quest for control. Yet, that is what happened. The First Amendment posed no obstacle to the implementation of the moral predilections of those in control as the morality was not “religious” and, indeed, mostly anti-religious.

Once established, the First Amendment cemented this morality’s grip on power. An exaggerated notion of the wall between Church and state prevented religious opinions from offering a different vision of the truth. As the quip puts it, “Shut up, he explained.”

But that was just the first phase. The next phase was the distribution of government largess that excluded “religious” ideas. A telling example is the government refusal to contract with Catholic Charities for adoption services because of what Catholics teach about the family. It was just a short step from this to affirmative coercion. Unfortunately, it is a step that principal dissent takes.

A simple example might help to see how quickly one can go from religious tests for the distribution of benefits to naked coercion. Assume there are two groups of people. These people have different answers to the question about the killing if human beings in utero. One group believes that it is wrong even to facilitate such a killing. Let’s call that group HL. Another group of people think it is morally proper to kill people in utero and decide to profit by doing the killing. Let’s call this group PP.

HL and PP decide to go into business. HL decides to profit by providing craft supplies; PP decides to profit by killing people. Both are answers to the moral question about how to respond to fact of the new person’s existence.

Under the principal dissent’s reasoning, PP is entitled to all the benefits of the for profit corporate form while HL is not. PP can act on its moral vision because its vision excludes God. HL, on the other hand, cannot act on its moral vision because its vision includes God. This perverse result destroys the very thing that the First Amendment was intended to protect — religious belief and practice — in the name of protecting religious belief and practice.

It gets worse. The HL-PP example focuses on the use of religion to exclude religious people from access to government distributed benefits. This case involves government-mandated action contrary to a religious belief. The ACA commandeers the employee benefits infrastructure of employers of a certain size to distribute insurance benefits that the government deems essential. Four abortifacients have been deemed essential as if pregnancy is a disease or the new life is a cancer. The Hahns and Greens simply do not want to be the government’s agent in facilitating the death of these human beings. The ACA mandates that they do so. The principal dissent approves of this result and deploys an bevy of outlandish hypotheticals in support. Suffice it to say that we should not fail to protect the Hahns and Greens today because of some hypothetical case that may never arise tomorrow. “Sufficient unto the day are the cares thereof” is a pearl of wisdom that the principal dissent should heed.

III.   Alternative Grounds For Protecting Religious Liberty

Before concluding, it is important to note that there was alternative ground upon which this case could have been decided. The ACA imposes a very large tax on the Hahns and the Greens. The majority correctly holds that the size and scope of this tax substantially burdens the Hahns’ and Greens’ freedom to conscientiously object to providing abortifacients through their businesses. The government and the principal dissent agree with the majority on this point. According to the argument and the dissenting opinion, forcing the Hahns and Greens to provide abortifacients is critical to the whole edifice of the ACA, something without which it would come tumbling down. If so, one can assume Congress set the tax high enough to effectively overwhelm the free choice of the taxpayers. In this case, then, the tax has lost its features as a “tax” and is therefore an unlawful penalty. I would conclude that the shared responsibility payment provisions of the ACA are unconstitutional.

IV.  Conclusion

I am troubled by this case. I am troubled that the government mandated employers like the Hahns and Greens to facilitate the destruction of human life. I am troubled that our First Amendment jurisprudence has become a cudgel for silencing religious believers. I am troubled by the principal dissent’s willingness to countenance the government’s effort to force employers to help kill certain, entirely helpless people. I am troubled that we have so quickly forgotten the limits of Congress’ taxing power in this precise context.

At the same time, I am hopeful. I am hopeful that the goodwill that has characterized this Nation’s approach to religious pluralism will continue. I am hopeful that once the First Amendment will be restored to its proper place in the pantheon of our liberty and come to shield religious people from “men of zeal,” arrogant and unthinking, rather than being a sword with which those men coerce conformity to their religions without God.

Signed: Justice X, his mark


h/t Phil Lawler at Catholic

The Catholic Heart Work Camp Experience – Day 1

In a previous post, I mentioned the Benedictine motto “ora et labora” — pray and labor. For CHWC, the motto would be slightly different, “pray, play, and labor.” CHWC, run by on-site staff and headquarters staff in Orlando, has perfected the art of getting teens excited by Christ. Sometimes we played; sometimes we prayed; and sometimes we labored. CHWC puts these elements together and the result is an great, experience founded on Christ.

We SFA-ers were the first parish to arrive on Sunday. We were immediately greeted by CHWC staff whooping it up and recording it all on video tape. The excitement is contagious; before we knew it, all of us SFA campers (adults included) were doing the Robot Dance, with the ensuing hilarity being recored for all posterity.

Next came the long trek to our sleeping quarters. This is always a CHWC moment of suspense. Campers sleep on air mattresses or in sleeping bags on the floor. Sockets are major issue – fans and phones.

We walked first through St. Polyvarp hallway and then to another wing and then to our room. Workcamp Heaven! Large, lots of sockets; only one other parish. Ahhhhh!!!!!!

The first program took place Sunday evening. Program is an essential part of CHWC. It consists of a series of skits and talks (and announcements!) designed to excite teens, draw them out, and to show how Christ addresses the concerns that they likely face. Lotsa movement, lotsa music, and lotsa excitement.

Why “A Beautiful Mess”?

Each summer Catholic Heart Workcamp chooses a theme. One year it was “Live to Give.” This year it was “A Beautiful Mess.”

My first reaction to this year’s theme was incomprehension. What does that mean? “Live to Give” was clear, punchy, and memorable; “A Beautiful Mess” seemed to be none of these.

Reflecting on the phrase over the week helped me to understand how much truth about us, our world, and God is packed into that phrase.

The first hint came from CHWC itself. This is how CHWC explained it:

The world is as messy as it is beautiful and as beautiful as it is messy.

We are surrounded by God’s beauty in creation, and life’s blessings, yet there is so much pain, injustice and poverty that exists simultaneously. Likewise, as human beings we were designed and created in God’s image for goodness yet we recognize we all have our own messes in our lives. The beauty lies in the truth that God’s love is constant despite any mess.

Service to others requires us to get messy not just physically, with dirty hands, cement splashed shoes and paint stained clothes. Service is also about listening to the stories of others, being emotionally involved and then, without judgement, loving and caring as Christ.

It is. We Are. A Beautiful Mess.

Team 18 certainly experienced this messiness as further posts will describe. And God certainly pulled good out of it. That was one level of reflection. But there is much more to pull out.

The world and all in it was created beautiful:

“My name is known: God and King. I am most in majesty, In whom no beginning may be and no end. Highest in potency I am, And have been ever. I have made stars and planets in their courses to go. I have made a moon for the night and a sun to light the day also. I have made earth where trees and grasses spring, Beasts and fowl, both great and small, all thrive and have my liking. I have made all of nothing for man’s sustenation And of this pleasant garden that I have mostly goodly planted I will make him gardener for his own recreation. [source: Godspell Prologue, found here]”

Let that sink in. God chose to create us. He chose to create the world and all in it as a place of beauty and greatness to please us, to make us happy. He infused all He created with something of His beauty, that is, of Himself because He is beauty itself. He did not need to do this; God did it because He wanted to.

But mankind ripped it to shreds. We pollute. We use more resources than we need for our sustentation. We turn God’s freely given gift into a mess. That is, of course, original sin. It mars our souls just as it mars the physical environment. We’ve made a mess of things.

But that is not the end of the story.

God’s beauty remains; no matter how attenuated it may be. We see it through the mess, a still small voice whispering to us through the cacophony. God renews and refreshes so that the cacophony itself becomes beautiful.

How does He do this? Grace.

On the Solemnity of Corpus Christi, the priest pointed to the altar saying, “this is real.” Not merely getting close to some famous person’s life. Not basking in reflected glory. Not shaking hands with the President and talking about it for years. No, through the Body and Precious Blood of Christ, we really participate, are incorporated, into Christ’s life, the very life of God.

Our souls are messes due to original sin. Grace restores that beauty.

Our world is a beautiful mess, physically and spiritually. When our work proceeds from grace – from the very life of God – we restore some of that original beauty; we become agents of grace.

“A Beautiful Mess” was indeed the perfect theme.