To kill the cult of personality

| Liz Kelly | June 19, 2019 | 0 Comments


A year or so ago, my very talented and prayerful assistant convinced me I needed to develop a better website. I dragged my feet — and legs, and arms, and torso and half-hermit heart. The thought of “marketing” makes me nauseous, and social media in general disturbs my spirit. I wonder what Jesus, who never consulted a publicist or created a branding strategy, thinks of such hubbub.

Still, my assistant had a valid point. To provide a venue whereby people could be introduced to my work and what I offer in retreats, speaking and writing was not necessarily to swallow the “cult of personality” poison, but more a means of offering information. In the end, it turned out to be a rewarding, creative effort. My website has provided me an opportunity to connect with many people I might not have been able to otherwise over our love of Christ and his Church. A dazzling young Catholic web designer took it to heart when I told her, “I want folks to feel like they’ve had a mini-retreat after visiting my website,” and she did a beautiful job in capturing that sentiment.

However, the enterprise left me a little pinched by self-absorption and too much concern for commerce, not enough for ministry and the souls entrusted to my care. My spiritual director assigned me the Litany of Humility to be offered twice daily. I managed to avoid it for a few days, but once the habit took, I was flooded with two unexpected results. One, I started to crave the prayer. I earnestly missed it if I had forgotten to say it before bed. And two, it flooded me with a deep-hearted rest, a soul-freedom that was abandoned to the generous love of a magnificent God.

The Litany was composed by Rafael Cardinal Merry del Val (1865-1930), secretary of state for Pope St. Pius X. It is reported that St. Pius said the prayer every day himself. In a culture and economy often driven by good looks and loud opinions, one that believes notoriety is a virtue and meekness a mental illness, the Litany is a mouthful. In it, we plead for the grace to be forgotten, hidden, even humiliated for the sake of Christ. We beg to go unnoticed so that others may win awards and accolades. We even ask that most difficult of graces: the freedom from fear of calumniation, truly, radically asking for the willingness to suffer what Jesus suffered.

But my director pointed out something very important: In order to say the prayer effectively, you want to pray the Litany only after you have recollected yourself in the love of God. When you are acutely aware of his deep affection and care for you, the Litany seems like a relief, spiritual common sense, and again, a method to freedom — the freedom to do all the Father would ask and to allow yourself to be entirely loved by him. That’s quite a return.

Visit my website — or don’t — but do allow yourself to be so well loved by the Lord that the Litany of Humility becomes the sweet love-song of your heart. Catherine Dougherty once wrote that “a silent heart is a loving heart, and a loving heart is a hospice to the world.” A humble heart, too, I would argue, is a curative spiritual tonic. Test it for yourself and for our troubled culture.

Jesus, meek and humble of heart, show me what it means to share in your meekness and humility in the face of a self-aggrandizing world. Grace me with the freedom to follow you like a much-loved — and totally free — fool.

Kelly is the author of six books, including “Jesus Approaches” and the “Jesus Approaches Take-Home Retreat.” Visit her website at

LITANY OF HUMILITYO 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.

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Category: Your Heart His Home