Monday, September 15, 2014

bet the readers didn't see THAT coming...

Elizabeth Scalia, editor of the Catholic portal at patheos.com (a great set of Catholic blogs there!), links to Roger Cohen of the New York Times.  As Scalia relates, Cohen says what everybody should recognize but rarely want to express:  things are not going well.  Scalia:

It is, finally, perhaps a time of dawning realization that the centers are not holding; old orders are in extremis; new orders are in capricious adolescence.
The troubles briefly enumerated in this sobering op-ed are only the most obvious issues. They are the pebble tossed into the pond, rippling outward in ever-widening circles — expanding to include a unique “time” of global crisis: governments failing at every level, everywhere; churches are divided, their freedoms challenged; citizens are distracted, dissatisfied and distrustful, their election mechanisms in doubt; schools are losing sight of the primary mission of education; families are deconstructed and the whole concept ripe for dissolution; respect for human dignity is doled out in qualified measures; there is a lack of privacy; a lack of time to think, to process and to incarnate; a lack of silence.
 
The Book of Judges closes at 21:25: "In those days there was no king in Israel; all the people did what was right in their own eyes."

Yep, that pretty much nails it.
 
But Scalia doesn't stop there.

In her wisdom she offers something to help, not surprisingly a prayer.  And oh what a prayer it is:  Cardinal Merry del Val's "Humility Litany"!  Scalia again:
Rafael Cardinal Merry del Val’s great prayer for humility might be the ground zero of our efforts at restructuring. Many people will immediately dismiss the notion, but imagine what the world would be like if people spoke these words, every day:
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, O Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may be esteemed more than I, O Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That, in the opinion of the world, others may, increase and I may decrease, O Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may be chosen and I set aside, O Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may be praised and I unnoticed, O Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may be preferred to me in everything, O 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, O Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
You better believe it--"Amen, Amen."  Merry del Val, St. Pius X's secretary of state and a consummate Vatican insider, usually receives attention only for his role in the Church's anti-modernist crusade a century ago


His Humility prayer, though, reminds us, for whatever else he did, of another side to Merry del Val.  And in these days, as Scalia notes, couldn't we all benefit from a little more humility?  
 
The Humility litany riffs on chords in much more familiar and popular prayers like Reinhold Niebhur's Serenity Prayer and St. Francis of Assisi's "Lord, make me an instrument of your peace" prayer. And why can't we turn inward, spiritually, in order to then return outward and address the problems of the day?  Need every answer, every response, be first and foremost a grab at political power and/or attempt to buttress reputation?  There's a lot to ponder in Cardinal Merry del Val's prayer.  Thanks to Elizabeth Scalia for this wonderful, poignant, challenging surprise.

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