I think we all have aspects of our lives that are far from perfect, far from what we wish they would be. I certainly do. And generally, my response to those parts of life tends to be impatience. It’s something I must work on, and do, but it does get to me. Things aren’t the way I want them to be, and so I whine to God about it, or whine to my mom about it, or just act like a brat and feel angry and depressed about it. But, like I said, I am working on it. And I think we have to work on these things—I think mine is my cross. It’s the one aspect of my life that can either help me become a true saint, or drag me to Hell. And since I don’t want to go to Hell, I work on it.
Recently, I’ve begun reading (again, as I do this intermittently) the series of daily meditations in the books In Conversation with God. These little books are just full of wisdom, usually delivered in a pithy manner by St. Josemaria Escriva, a man who really knew what it meant to struggle toward Heaven in today’s society. There are so many times I read these books and think that he’s talking just to me. I love it when that happens, and it happens a lot.
On Tuesday, I read this, and it gave me a renewed look at my daily struggles:
“What seems a misfortune to us is perhaps not so dreadful; sin is the only absolute evil, and from it—with love, with humility and with contrition—we can draw out the most sweet-tasting effects of a new encounter with Christ, an encounter in which the soul is rejuvenated.
“Behind those apparent evils (illness, exhaustion, pain, financial ruin … ) we always find Jesus, smiling at us and holding out his hand to help us bear that situation and grow internally. … The misfortunes of this life are a constant call to our heart, which says to us: The Teacher is here and is calling for you! But if we are more attached to our own plans, health, life … than we are to God’s will—sometimes mysterious and incomprehensible to us at the beginning—we will come to look on misfortune as only the loss of something that, being only partially and relatively good, we have perhaps treated as absolute and definitive. What a great mistake we would make if we failed to see Jesus visiting us at those very moments! …
“If we look at the lesser or greater misfortunes of this life with the eyes of faith we will always end up giving thanks for them. For that sickness, for the humiliation we were made to endure when we least looked for it, for hunger, for thirst, for the loss of employment … ‘Thank you, Lord!’ we will say to him from the depths of our hearts—‘because you have presented yourself to me where I least expected you!’”
Today, I read this, which just added a whole new dimension to it:
“I desire mercy and not sacrifice … It is because of this that our mortifications should be lived, more than anywhere else, in those things that affect our relationships and dealings with other people. Our attitude should always be one of mercy, just like Our Lord’s attitude toward the people He met everywhere He went. our mortification receives its impulse and direction from the regard we have for those with whom we are in daily contact, whether at home, at work or for any other reason away from home. It leads us to make things in this life more pleasant for them. In particular it leads us to help people who are having to bear even greater physical or moral sufferings; we will do little acts of service for them or deprive ourselves of some small comfort if we can help them in that way.
“Our spirit of mortification will lead us to overcome any lack of optimism which would necessarily affect other people. We will endeavor to smile even when we have our own difficulties. We will try to avoid everything, however small, that may annoy those closest to us, to forgive others and to find excuses for them … in this way we will die o self-love, which is so deeply rooted in our being. We will learn to be humble. This habitual disposition that makes us a cause of joy for others can only be the fruit of a profound spirit of mortification, because many may not find giving up food and drink and a soft bed too difficult … But bearing an insult, a wrong, or hurtful words … this is something to be borne not by many but by few.”
The emphasis on humility is mine, but it was this that struck me. Humility? What? What is that? Our world, our country is not very humble. Humility is not something to be grasped at or proud of. We are strong, bold people, who get what we want, and have a sense of pride! No one walks all over us. No one wrongs us without a fight. We won’t tolerate it. No one cuts us off in traffic, or cuts us in line, or makes us wait too long at the check out … the list goes on and on.
And then there’s this concept that we should smile when we don’t want to and be pleasant to those who insult us, or tolerate people whose selfishness could bring us to tears. WHY? It’s so counter-intuitive!
But when I think of Christ’s Passion; how He—GOD—let those people punch Him, and spit on Him, and tell lies about Him to His face, and nail Him to a cross … and He tells us to follow Him. It seems impossible, and yet, with His help, nothing is ever impossible.
So, with His help, it is possible to look at life’s disappointments as an opportunity for grace, a step toward Heaven, a way to show Him how much we love Him by the way we love those whom He has put in our lives. And hard though it may be, if we ask Him for help, He’ll give it. Just like that. It’s amazing.
Last year, my mom and sister and I did the Total Consecration to Jesus through Mary. One of the prayers we prayed during this 33-day prayer marathon is this, Litany of Humility, which I’ve added to my daily prayers. I remember the first time I prayed it, I laughed out loud and said to my mom, “Gosh! Why don’t we just add, ‘And Jesus, please have everyone kick us every day of our lives!’” It is that harsh. But the more I pray it, the more I realize how essential it is to keep praying it. When I pray it, I always think of Mother Teresa, and how she got so much praise while she was alive, and yet she always remained humble. And then I think about some of the “famous” Catholics I’ve met, who oddly seem to be so lacking in charity. I’m sure it’s hard to be charitable all the time when you have people constantly in your face. But, I figure, if Jesus could do it, and if Mother Teresa could do it, why couldn’t we?
So here’s the prayer. Join me in praying it. And if you could, please ask Jesus to keep us humble and charitable, as we make our journey toward television.
O Jesus! meek and humble of heart, Hear me.
From the desire of being esteemed, Deliver me, O Jesus.
From the desire of being loved… Deliver me, O Jesus.
From the desire of being extolled … Deliver me, O Jesus.
From the desire of being honored … Deliver me, O Jesus.
From the desire of being praised … Deliver me, O Jesus.
From the desire of being preferred to others… Deliver me, O Jesus.
From the desire of being consulted … Deliver me, O Jesus.
From the desire of being approved … Deliver me, O Jesus.
From the fear of being humiliated … Deliver me, O Jesus.
From the fear of being despised… Deliver me, O Jesus.
From the fear of suffering rebukes … Deliver me, O Jesus.
From the fear of being calumniated … Deliver me, O Jesus.
From the fear of being forgotten … Deliver me, O Jesus.
From the fear of being ridiculed … Deliver me, O Jesus.
From the fear of being wronged … Deliver me, O Jesus.
From the fear of being suspected … Deliver me, O 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, 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.