Watch: Week 51 | On the Road to Emmaus w/ Bishop Boyea | Pray the Litany of Humility

May 31, 2024

Feast of the Visitation

Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
Thank you for walking On the Road to Emmaus with me over the past year. I have enjoyed your company. Together we’ve made our pilgrimage through the Holy Mass. Last week we made it to the Invitation to Communion. This week, we are preparing ourselves to receive Our Lord in the Eucharist in a state of grace, of course, and also in a worthy fashion beginning, I’d suggest, with a spirit of humility. Why humility? Let’s find out in this week’s On the Road to Emmaus.
The word humility comes to us from the Latin word humus meaning earth or ground. That’s also the root of the word human. How very apt. As the Book of Genesis tells us, “God formed the man out of the dust of the ground and blew into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.” (Genesis 2:7).
It is from these humble origins that God created us, sustains us and, indeed, loves us such that we read in the Book of Psalms: “What is man that you are mindful of him, and a son of man that you care for him? Yet you have made him little less than a god, crowned him with glory and honor. You have given him rule over the works of your hands, put all things at his feet” (Psalm 8).
Thus, we discover the pivotal role of humility in the life of the Christian disciple. We discover that we are finite, frail and fallen. As such, our desire for God opens us to great things.
As Saint Augustine of Hippo rightly said: "Man is a beggar before God". And yet by divine condescension, even to the point of God becoming human, we are beggars who have been raised to the rank of royal heirs. What Christ is by nature, we become by adoption.
This is why Saint Augustine also tell us that: “Humility is the foundation of all the other virtues.” Humility, if you like, is the door through which we all must pass if we sincerely hope to grow in virtue and holiness.

And so, to this week’s challenge. Here it is: I want you to recite the Litany of Humility before Holy Mass this week in order to prepare ourselves to receive Our Lord in the Eucharist in a worthy fashion. A link to the prayer is here

The composition of the Litany of Humility is often ascribed to Cardinal Rafael Merry del Val who was Secretary of State to Pope Pius X in the early 20th century. The litany consists of a series of 24 petitions to God, each asking for a decrease in our own ego so that an increase in God’s life and love can fill the vacuum that we allow in our life.
What difference will praying the Litany of Humility make to your life? That’s the question we put to the two Diocese of Lansing seminarians who are currently studying at the Pontifical North American College in Rome. They are Thomas Crowley and Jacob Derry. In search of an answer, Thomas and Jacob made a pilgrimage to the tomb of Cardinal Merry del Val which is to be found below the high altar of Saint Peter’s basilica.

I am yours sincerely in Christ, 

+ Earl Boyea
Bishop of Lansing