28 July 2007

Fifty-one weeks and counting

In fifty-one weeks' time I am to be the spiritual directer for Great River Teens Encounter Christ #253. The lay directors for the weekend have been good friends of mine since my first TEC weekend, #162, ten years ago. I'm very much looking forward to the weekend. They are an excellent example of committed love, whose hearts are large and generous.

They sent a prayer card to use to help prepare for the weekend and to implore the Lord to shower our endeavors with his grace. The card contained the Litany of Humility, composed by Rafael Cardinal Merry del Val (d. 1930):

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…

If you would, please join me in offering this prayer each day for the success of the weekend.


  1. This is one of my favorite litanies. I will try to remember to recite for your intentions Father D.

  2. Just be sure to pay close attention to the need of giving of yourself, as shown in the last part. The first part, when taken out of context, can lead to a spiritually arrogant withdrawal from all humanity. I've seen that happen once or twice over the years and it's not a pretty picture.

  3. Anonymous10:00 AM

    You're on to something there, Jeffrey. I think to reject the "desire to be loved" is inhumane and contrary to Church teaching especially those teachings on human personhood.

    The desire to be loved is built within the human heart, first to be loved by God and then our neighbor, and of course, for us to love them in return. A certain cold hearted-ness can occur in the spiritual life whereby we no longer live in communion (I know that word is mis-used a lot, but the Pope says this all the time), heart to heart, with our fellow man.

    The pope recently covered this in his new book, Jesus of Nazareth, where he recounts the parable of the Good Samaritan. The Good Samaritan, upon seeing the fallen traveler allows himself to be moved to love and enters into the life of the poor man. If we cut off our feelings of love and being moved, out of fear of this natural virtue, we risk cutting ourselves off from humanity. Our feelings are very important because our "being moved" by others and they in return to us, shows in our face, our speech, our writings and when we act more like robots, devoid of human feeling, people do not encounter Christ, the living God in us, but instead see falsity, a person cut up and lacking in authenticity.
    Sorry to go on long. I've been around too long and have seen this mistake happen far too often. We only have to look at the Holy Father who loves others, they love him and the joy he feels at this mutual exchange is shown over his entire countenance. If he rejected the "desire to be loved" he would respond to others coldly, fearing that he would fall into a trap of wanting to be loved. Instead, he projects a naturalness, a reception of the love offered to him and him in return offering the love back to the people. This is the summit of the Christian life and really, where the greatest happiness is found.
    Another point: Jesus asks for loving affirmation from Peter: Peter do you love me? This affirmation of love is important to all people. A good read on this is the Conrad Baars, Born Only Once....he was a Catholic physician and psychiatrist.

  4. Look at the litany again.

    It aks not to be free of love but from the desire to be loved, meaning to be free from self-centeredness. It is possible that a hardness of heart can emerge, but it is also possible that one becomes obsessed with oneself, sinking into self-absorbtion.

    Knowing Pope Benedict's characteristic humility - and having met him when he was yet Cardinal Ratzinger, I can attest to this - I believe quite sincerely that the intentions of this litany are dear to the Holy Father's heart.

    As for the parable of the Good Samaritan the Samaritan is not guilty of desiring love; the parable is thet love he gives, not about the love he seeks.

    It might be remembered that Cardinal Merry del Val is, after all, a Servant of God, whose cause for canonization is open.

  5. A hardness of heart has certainly emerged in your case, if you actually have one.

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  7. Let's see. That cause has been lagging since, what? The early 1950's? With only borderline schismatics openly calling for it?
    I'm sure we're very sorry for questioning you. I didn't know you were in a position to speak for the Holy Father.

  8. Now that I think of it, this actually strikes me as a very close analog to the Prayer of St. Francis. Yes, right down to "that I may not so much seek ... to be loved as to love".

    Both reflect a properly mature basis of action - to do what you do out of love, not out of the desire (or felt need) to be loved. They both speak of the need for a properly formed desire to be loved which, as SF says, is a part of the human condition. That desire, however, if malformed (e.g. when one does something believing they can somehow "earn" love) can have a very deleterious effect on both the person seeking the love and the one from whom it is sought. Naturally as with all desires it is necessary to put it in balance and keep it in perspective. Hardness of heart goes both ways in this case.

    I'm quite certain I've failed to make my point, but that's what I get for trying to compress such a nuanced point into a combox. Ah well.

  9. Anonymous12:50 PM

    Nice Frival. I think you show that the prayer is lacking a key distinction. St. Francis points to this distinction in his prayer.

    Father, thank you for your comments. Perhaps I wasn't clear.
    First, your notion that you met the pope so therefore you "know" the pope better than fellow Catholics........... did you ask if I ever met or know the pope? :> This is underhand way of avoiding the topic at hand.

    Secondly, you didn't read the pope's Jesus of Nazareth, because if you did you would have seen this lovely interchange about the "back and forth" nature of love, p 201, at the conclusion of the explanation of the Parable of the Good Samaritan:

    "For now we realize that we are all 'alienated,' in need of redemption. Now we realize that we are all
    in need of the gift of God's redeeming love ourselves, so that we too can become "lovers" in our turn. Now we realize that we always need God, who makes himself our neighbor so that we can become

    The two characters in this story are relevant to every single human being. Everyone is 'alienated,'
    especially from love (which, after all, is the essence of the 'supernatural splendor' of which we have been despoiled); everyone must first be healed and filled with God's gifts. But then everyone is also called to become a Samaritan---- to follow
    Christ and become like him. When we do that; we live rightly. We love rightly when we become like him,
    who loved all of us first (cf. 1Jn 4:19)." (How can we know that we are loved if we are rejecting the
    desire to be loved?......my addition)

    3. So the reason I wrote to counter act that one part of the prayer is because it is false and contrary to the Gospel. We desire to be loved because God made us to desire to be loved. This is not selfish. Now if you took one part of it and became selfish, that's different. But you do not throw out love just because it can become deformed. I do not reject parental love because some parents are selfish. Selfishness actually has nothing to do with love, so therefore I wouldn't link the two.
    Selfishness has everything to do with hatred, hatred of others, of self, of life.....a desperate manner of living where by man is demeaned and loses his "supernatural splendor."

    Love has everything to do with life, God, living, happiness, human
    interaction, faith, hope, light.

    So we shouldn't reject "the desire to be loved" unless this rejection is defined........because the less informed will become deformed and think there is in love an evil inclination. Charity excludes evil. Evil taking is not love. Using of others is not love.

    I wish you well.

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