I work for my parish, so one perk is that I can sneak a peek at our bulletin and our Pastor’s letter to his flock before it’s printed. For this coming Sunday, Father Bedel writes that during this Lenten season we find ourselves amid a new shared adversity that most of us have never faced before. We can grumble and feel sorry for ourselves or we can make something worthwhile of it. That got me thinking about how perhaps God has given us this time to change in some way and grow closer to Him. A crisis almost always makes us think first about our family….where are they right now….did I do all I could to protect them….how will they cope with this? My children are adults and either in college or living on their own, but it hasn’t been that long ago that they were home. I can’t imagine how much disruption having them home unexpectedly for three weeks or possibly until the end of the school year would have caused our household in terms of daycare, new online schooling processes, my husband working from home amidst the chaos and that summer vacation problem of “Mommy, I’m bored!” coming up in March already. Growing in virtue is just what we need to help us get through this adversity.

God has a plan for each one of us and His plan is good. It tells us that right in the first paragraph of the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC)….if you don’t know what the Catechism is, that’s our textbook, our faith written down for us to learn and understand. CCC 1 says “God, infinitely perfect and blessed in himself, in a plan of sheer goodness freely created man to make him share in his own blessed life.” God made us to share in His own blessed life, think about that for a minute, that’s amazing! He wants to share His divine life with us by filling us with none other than Himself, His Holy Spirit. He wants us to be close to Him during our lifetime and then He wants us to live with Him in heaven forever. If God has a plan for us, and His plan is always one of sheer goodness, how can all this hardship help us grow in humility and perhaps some other virtues like patience and trust?

Humility is one of those words that we don’t like to talk about in our secular culture. We think perhaps that it means having low self-esteem, having to refuse any kind of compliment, denying our gifts and talents, being a pushover or not having a backbone to stand up for what’s right. Humility is none of those things. In humility, we acknowledge that our goodness and worth come from being a child of God and not from our own personal accomplishments. St. Thomas Aquinas tells us that humility is about recognizing the truth about our self, which means recognizing both our limitations and our gifts. As we go along in life, we can sometimes forget that everything we have and all the talents we exhibit are all gifts from God. He gives them to us specifically to use to further the Kingdom of God and to give glory to God. That’s a part of His plan for sheer goodness.

If we view the disruption in our travel plans, our schedules, our dining out habits, our ability to come to Mass, our work and even our grocery shopping as something that God ultimately intends for our good, then we can approach it differently. We need to begin with prayer and ask God to help us grow in the virtue of humility and other virtues. There’s no other way to do this, no other place to begin but in prayer. Ask the Holy Spirit…. what can I learn from this situation and how can I grow in humility, patience, kindness, trust? Jesus tells us right in Sacred Scripture in Mathew 7:7, that when we ask, it will be given to us, so ask. Next, accept humbling experiences. Maybe you find yourself on an important conference call for work while your children are home and screaming, and the dog is barking. Accept that humiliation and don’t make excuses about having to work remotely right now. If you are in a long line waiting to buy that much-sought-after toilet paper and you are thinking about what a waste of time it is and how you have so many better things to do, thank God instead for the fact that you were able to find that toilet paper in the first place. If that grocery store line is long, use the wait time to make an examination of conscience and see if that little bit of pride (I have so many better things to do) has snuck into your life elsewhere. Did you have something better to do than come to Sunday Mass or to listen to a person who might be suffering from loneliness or spend time playing Chutes and Ladders for the tenth time with your toddler?

Humility also involves being obedient to legitimate superiors, in our government, in our church and in our homes. Romans 13:1 tells us “Let every person be subordinate to the higher authorities, for there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been established by God.” In humility then, we can submit ourselves to not attending large gatherings and staying put in our homes. We can make this obedience an act of humility by following guidelines that we may think are foolish or excessive or meant for everyone but us. As an almost daily communicant, I am truly struggling with the suspension of all public Mass. The moment I read the press release, I cried, and my heart pined to receive Jesus in the Eucharist right then and there. Perhaps God is giving me a chance to grow in humility through this adversity. Am I less than humble in my own perceived piety in coming to daily Mass? That’s some food for prayer for me as I begin this period of dryness without daily Mass. I can however, maybe for the first time truly unite my longing for Jesus with those who can never celebrate the Mass without fear of being killed or persecuted in some other way. How bad do we really have it when we can’t find toilet paper or must stay home a few weeks compared to this loss of Jesus Himself and being filled with His blessed life in Holy Communion?

So, look at these adversities we face together as a chance to grow in humility, patience, kindness, faith, hope and love, a chance to spend time with our family, a chance to rely on God, a chance to read more of Sacred Scripture and a chance to have the time to add more prayer to our days. All these opportunities await us as we commit to meditating on the greatness of God, His plan for sheer goodness and our complete reliance on Him.


 

Need help getting started, try praying with the Litany of Humility.

Written By: Birgitt Hacker | Pastoral Associate of Adult Faith Formation and Ministries


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, 

deliver me, Jesus.

From the desire of being extolled, 

deliver me, Jesus.

From the desire of being honored, 

deliver me, Jesus.

From the desire of being praised, 

deliver me, Jesus.

From the desire of being preferred to others, 

deliver me, Jesus.

From the desire of being consulted, 

deliver me, Jesus.

From the desire of being approved, 

deliver me, Jesus.

From the fear of being humiliated, 

deliver me, Jesus.

From the fear of being despised, 

deliver me, Jesus.

From the fear of suffering rebukes, 

deliver me, Jesus.

From the fear of being calumniated, 

deliver me, Jesus.

From the fear of being forgotten, 

deliver me, Jesus.

From the fear of being ridiculed, 

deliver me, Jesus.

From the fear of being wronged, 

deliver me, Jesus.

From the fear of being suspected, 

deliver me, Jesus.

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, 

Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.

others may increase and I may decrease, 

Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.

That others may be chosen, and I set aside, 

Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.

That others may be praised and I unnoticed, 

Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.

That others may be preferred to me in everything, 

Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.

That others may become holier than I, 

provided that I may become as holy as I should,

Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.  

Amen.

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