Day 25: Our Practice in Humility
BY ALYSSA PEREZ | March 18, 2023
“How we live our lives is more important than how we say we live our lives.” I honestly cannot remember at all who said this quote or where I first heard it, but it has been my Instagram profile biography for the past few years. It is my reminder to myself that how I actually live my life is a lot more important than how I say or appear to live my life. That is the trap of social media. We all want to seem as if we are doing/saying/posting/standing for the “righteous” things in our world, but do our everyday actions align with our social media presence? Do we act in love even when no one is looking?
Today’s gospel reminded me of this quote because, like the Pharisees, we have all fallen into the trap of self-righteous pats on our backs for not being like the greedy, shallow, or selfish people we see or know. We see problematic posts or hear non-politically correct statements (especially in today’s polarizing society) and think to ourselves—THANK GOD I don’t sound like that. That is exactly the paradox of comparison.We compare ourselves to others versus truly being attentive to God’s call in our lives. We are not called to be like others, or even better than others—we are called to simply love God and our neighbor like we love ourselves. We have become accustomed to comparing EVERYTHING in our lives, instead of just being worried about ourselves and our own actions. In these chaotic times, we are called to pause this Lent, and take an honest look at ourselves and our lives. Practices like the Examen invite us to sincerely reflect on the parts of our day that we fell short. We then make a plan to do better the next day. We are called to be humble in our prayers to God and truthful about our actions. Not just in reconciliation once or twice a year, but every day in our prayer life.
“[F]or everyone who exalts [themselves] will be humbled, and the one who humbles [themselves] will be exalted.” May we all choose humility this Lenten season.
- If you need some examples of what our practice in humility can look like, re-read “Do It Anyway” by Mother Teresa.
- When was the last time you acted in a way that was truly humble? What was that experience like for you?
- Sometime this evening, I invite you to pray the Examen and review your day to give gratitude, recognize God’s presence in it, replay the moments you are proud of and the times you fell short, and set a new sincere intention for tomorrow. Here is an example to get you started.
Alyssa Perez serves as a community organizer for LA Voice, a multiracial and multifaith organizing network in LA County. She was a Jesuit Volunteer in Belize City (’15-’17) and holds theology and political science degrees from Loyola Marymount University and a masters of nonprofit administration from the University of San Francisco. Having been Jesuit educated for 12 years, she is deeply committed to Ignatian spirituality and building the Beloved community.
My act of humbleness came this Lenten season when I realized I could not navigate without a deeper relationship to God. With these Lenten emails, church attendance, praying the Divine Mercy Chaplet and attending the Stations of the Cross for the first time in many years, I feel the grounding that I have needed. Thank you for this opportunity.
Thank you, Alyssa for your reflection. It provided me a gentle reminder to practice the Examen and make it part of my daily routine. I can see myself incorporating it into my evening after dinner. Instead of sitting on the couch to watch TV, I can spend time in my prayer space practicing the Examen. Thank you for the link to the various forms of the prayer! I’m most grateful. Peace.
Thank you for including the prayer “Do it anyway”. It helps me to know it is my relationship with God that I am working on, not the appearance I may or may not project to others.
Thank you for your reflection, Alyssa. It nudges me to incorporate the Examen into my daily routine. Instead of heading to the couch to watch TV after dinner, I’ll head to my prayer space for a review of my day. Thank you too for the resources! So helpful. Peace.
In reality, the famous Mother Teresa prayer is a slightly edited version of “The Paradoxical Commandments,” a poem by American writer Kent M. Keith. She displayed this poem on a wall in her children’s home in Calcutta, and therefore in popular culture it has been widely associated with her and her work.
What a blessing it is to see God in our daily encounters.
Perhaps watching the mailman deliver the mail with a smile is a gift of goodness being shared.
Perhaps seeing the sanitation man put your garbage can back on your driveway makes you realize how kindness is a blessing.
Maybe, just maybe waving at a neighbor adds joy to their day.
I enjoy the spiritual sharings.
How wonderful to share Jesus love into our
ordinary life encounters.
Genuine humility adds life to one’s life span.
Sharing our gratitude with others and taking the plunge to initiate conversations with strangers, who are really just potential friends we haven’t yet taken the time to communicate with and listen.