Humility does not spring up in our souls of its own accord. On the contrary, every child of Adam has a deep root of pride within his soul. It is only by a long and painful process that the generality of mankind can attain humility. We cannot expect to become humble unless we fulfil the necessary conditions. We must make many acts of humility before we can attain any proficiency in the virtue, and these must consist not merely in protesting to Almighty God that we are vile and worthless in His sight, and in humbling ourselves before Him by reason of our many sins, but in acts of humility practised towards others, by being very gentle towards those who provoke us, by accepting disappointments with patience and rebuffs without complaint. All this is a gradual process, and we must not expect proficiency in humility until we have practised long these means of attaining it.
We must pray for humility. No gift of God can be won without prayer, and humility least of all, because it is so opposed to the natural bent of our nature, and can never be had without a special grace from God. Prayer, moreover, is an acknowledgment of our dependence on God, and humility consists in nothing else than a recognition of this dependence and an acquiescence in it. Pray then for humility.
It is not much use praying for humility unless we also pray for the means that are to implant it in our souls. We must ask God from our hearts not to spare us if He sees that we shall not become humble without suffering. We must leave ourselves in His hands, saying only: "O my God, make me humble at any cost!"
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.