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The Positive Power of Examination

“I believe we shall never learn to know ourselves except by endeavoring to know God, for, beholding His greatness we are struck by our own baseness, His purity shows our foulness, and by meditating on His humility we find how very far we are from being humble. Two advantages are gained by this practice. First, it is clear that white looks far whiter when placed near something black, and on the contrary, black never looks so dark as when seen beside something white. Secondly, our understanding and will become more noble and capable of good in every way when we turn from ourselves to God: it is very injurious never to raise our minds above the mire of our own faults.”
— St. Teresa of Avila, p. 17
AN EXCERPT FROM, Interior Castle

I love the work, the gift, that St. Teresa of Avila gave to all who would seek to draw closer to God. To study her work is like being given a map to a maze. The more we listen to what she has to say, the stronger we are in moving through the “rooms,” the stages that we must go through if we are to reach the perfection in love God has for us.

The above quote is a tool for examination. We human beings like to compare. We make it a competition. The problem is when we make it a competition with other human beings, we can become arrogant in our ignorance. Our ignorance is rooted in our sinfulness and our pride.

God has created us for his glory. That means we find our best in our being what we were created to be. We were made perfect. We were made good. This changed when our world became broken through arrogance and ignorance. We are called to come back to the good. However, we must have a measure, a standard by which we can tell how we are progressing. Through an sincere examination of our own hearts and lives on a regular (daily or more) basis in the light of God’s greatness and the actions of our lives, we can come to see just where we lack. When we look at the humility of Jesus and then compare our behaviors and attitudes we can more clearly see how we need to strive to progress even further.

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 go 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.

(Litany of Humility, Rev. Merry de Val)

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