A Thomistic Litany of Humility

andy-wang-39028

Cardinal Merry del Val’s classic Litany of Humility is known to many Catholics. It’s a powerfully worded prayer, one that always makes a splash. However, revisiting it as a Dominican, the litany raises questions for me. There surges within me a need to make distinctions…or even to write a new litany.

Dominican friars aren’t always known for humility, yet St. Thomas Aquinas has left us quite a rich inheritance on the subject. Thomas fundamentally roots humility in a true knowledge of reality, of one’s strengths and weaknesses. He details humility’s opposition both to pride, the queen of all vices, and indirectly to vainglory, pride’s first lieutenant. He also identifies the pitfalls of false humility. And unknown to many, Thomas links humility with magnanimity, that virtue which propels us to real greatness. Magnanimity keeps humility from turning us into doormats.

With the help of a few friars, I offer this litany of humility based on St. Thomas:

O Jesus, meek and humble of heart, teach me.

From all pride and its effects, deliver me, Jesus.
From coveting greatness for its own sake or to excess, etc.
From contempt of You and Your law,
From a puffed-up self-image,
From claiming to be a self-made man,
From ingratitude for Your gifts,
From thinking that I have earned Your gifts by my effort alone,
From boasting of having what I do not have,
From excusing my faults while judging others,
From wishing to be the sole possessor of the skills I have,
From setting myself before others,

From all vainglory, deliver me, Jesus.
From craving praise for its own sake, etc.
From looking for flattery,
From withholding glory from You,
From showing off to the harm of my neighbor,
From presumption and false self-confidence,
From boastfulness,
From hypocrisy,
From the excessive need to be fashionable,  
From obstinacy and contention,
From disobedience,

From all false humility, deliver me, Jesus.
From forfeiting my dignity as a child of God, etc.
From burying the talents that You gave me,
From an unreasonable fear of failure,
From avoiding my true vocation,
From despair at my weakness,

In the ways of humility, teach me, Jesus.
To know my limits and my strengths, etc.
To acknowledge the depravity of my past sins,
To acclaim You as the author of all the good I do,
To put my confidence in You,
To be subject to You and Your Church,
To be subject to others for Your sake,
To revere Your presence in others,
To rejoice in Your gifts in others, even the gifts unseen,

To do great things by Your help and for Your glory, strengthen me, Jesus.
To seek greatness in heavenly things and lasting virtue, etc.
To do my best even when unnoticed,
To put my share of Your gifts at Your service,
To be neither puffed up by honor nor downcast by shame,
To do penance for my sins and those of others,
Above all, to strive to love You with all my being,
And to love my neighbor as myself,

In Your name, I pray. Amen.

Image by Andy Wang

You May Also Enjoy:

The Unkempt Man Brother’s having a really rough day. He wakes up at 7:08 am, throws on his habit, bounds bleary-eyed down two flights of stairs, and makes it to the chapel as the lector finishes the first reading. After Mass, Brother finishes the Morning Prayer he slept through and makes his exodus from the chapel to the refectory, a land of whole milk and honey oats. What he desires more than whole milk and honey oats, though, is hot coffee. But, on arriv...
5 Ways St. Joseph Can Help Your Lent Editor’s note: This post was originally published on March 19, 2015. How can St. Joseph help you this Lent?  I propose five ways.  Simplicity In John 6, when Jesus boldly declares, “I am the bread of life,” his hearers murmur among themselves and ask, “Is this not Jesus, the son of Joseph?”  (Jn 6:41).  Apparently, they considered Joseph to be just a regular, law-abiding Jew—an average Joe, if you will. By implication, Joseph didn’t go...
Come, They Told Me Come, they told me, pa rum pum pum pum… (audio and lyrics) “The Little Drummer Boy” combines two of my favorite things: drums and newborns. I have some experience of them both. To the first, I've been a drummer since childhood, playing eight years in drumline, and even now, performing the occasional gig with my Dominican brothers. To the second, my family has provided foster care to infants since my freshman year in high school. Exhibit A ...
The Poor and the Personal She has done a good thing for me . . . She has done what she could . . . Amen, I say to you, wherever the gospel is proclaimed to the whole world, what she has done will be told in memory of her (See Mk 6-9). At Bethany, just before the events of Jesus’ Passion, a woman anoints Him with costly oil. The disciples, however, grumble at this. They think it’s impractical: the money should have been given to the poor and not wasted in this manner. O...
Br. Joseph Martin Hagan, O.P.

Written by:

Br. Joseph Martin Hagan graduated from the University of Notre Dame in 2009. The following year, he spent trekking around Ireland, serving with N.E.T. Ministries. Then, he returned to Notre Dame's Echo program and completed an M.A. in theology, while serving in the Diocese of Wilmington, DE. Br. Joseph entered the Order of Preachers in 2012. On DominicanFriars.org