No one can review his past life without finding therein motives enough and to spare for humbling himself before Almighty God. "We have sinned, we have committed iniquity, we have done wickedly, we have revolted; to us belongeth shame and confusion of face" (Dan. ix. 5, 7). If ever we are inclined to think much of ourselves, we have only to look back on our past years; on the deliberate sins against charity, against truthfulness, against purity; on the pride, the selfishness, the self-will, the neglect of God that have stained our lives.
Besides the actual sins, how many infidelities to grace! God has been so liberal with His graces, and I have been so negligent in availing myself of them. How many I might have earned if I had been faithful and had not wilfully turned aside from what God asked of me to follow my own will and pleasure. What cause for humiliation of myself! If others who have perhaps lived and died in sin had had my graces, would they not have made a far better use of them than I have? To me, O God, shame and confusion of face! I must throw myself on Thy mercy and humbly beg forgiveness.
When, moreover, I look at what I now am, I find fresh cause for humbling myself. I might have been a saint if I had been more faithful, and now I am one of the vilest of sinners. My soul in the sight of God is disfigured by sin, as a body is by the ulcers and sores that spoil its natural beauty and comeliness. I abound with faults innumerable; I am unworthy to appear in the presence of God. "O hide Thy face from my sins, blot out all my iniquities!"
Prayer To Obtain Humility
O God, who resistest the proud, and givest thy grace to the humble, grant me that true humility of which thy adorable Son has left us the example. Notwithstanding the powerful obstacles which my natural inclinations oppose to this virtue, I ardently desire to learn of Him to be meek and humble of heart. I am filled with confusion, O Lord, when I reflect on my inordinate love of esteem and applause, my extreme fear of contempt and humiliation, my independence of spirit, my attachment to my own ideas and opinion, my secret satisfaction in success, my latent mortification at seeing others preferred, my insatiable desire of praise and honor. O Lord, I should despair of the cure of maladies so numerous and grievous, did not I know that thou art an Almighty Physician, to whom nothing is impossible. Cast on me, O my God, a look of compassion, and have mercy on me. Grant that I may know thee, to love thee alone ; that I may know myself, to comprehend the depth of my miseries.
May I never forget the many motives that urge me to the practice of humility, the sins of my past life, my inclination to evil, my inconstancy in virtue, my tepidity in thy service, my ingratitude towards thee, my daily infidelities, and the innumerable defects which, notwithstanding my pride, I cannot disguise from myself. May I at length do myself justice, by sincerely believing myself to be the last of all creatures; may I henceforth shun praise as sedulously as I have hitherto sought it; may my only aim be to please thee, my only desire to be forgotten by the world; may the remembrance of the account I shall have to render of Thy graces, prove a perpetual stimulus to the practice of humility in the use of them. If by thy grace I am ever capable of doing any thing to promote Thy honor, I will refer the glory to thee
alone; I will think of the voluntary humiliations of my Savior; I will take Him for my model, that by attaining resemblance with Him, I may deserve to be one day ranked among His elect in the kingdom of heaven. Amen.