Prayer of Praise

Based upon Catechism paragraphs 2639-49:

When we praise God, we glorify Him purely because of Who He Is – the all-holy, all-wise, all-loving, all-powerful, all-beautiful One.

Praise therefore has a different aspect from the other forms of prayer, which in some way refer to ourselves and what God does for us. We bless God in response to His blessings upon us, and adore Him in recognition of our status as creatures; we offer thanksgiving to God for His abundant gifts; we ask Him to take care of our needs in prayers of petition; and we pray on behalf of others in our prayers of intercession.

In prayers of praise, however, we are focused upon God Himself, loving Him for His Own sake. We exult in the sheer awesomeness of the Holy Trinity – the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit – Who Is Being itself, in glorious perfection forever, transcending time.

The technical term for a prayer of praise is “doxology,” a loan word from Greek. Examples include the “Glory to God in the highest” that we sing at Mass, the “Glory Be,” and the phrase added to the Lord’s Prayer, “For the kingdom, the power, and the glory are Yours, now and forever.”

As the conclusion to the “Our Father” implies, the other forms of prayer logically lead us into praise. Blessing, adoration, thanksgiving, petition, and intercession all call to mind the infinite goodness, generosity, and majesty of God, a reflection that culminates in our praising God just for being God.

This is illustrated to the highest degree at Mass: “The Eucharist contains and expresses all forms of prayer: it is ‘the pure offering’ of the whole Body of Christ to the glory of God’s name, and according to the traditions of East and West, it is the ‘sacrifice of praise.’”

Advertisements

Blessing & Adoration

Summary of Catechism paragraphs 2626-28:

Blessing is a form of prayer that underscores how our prayer is a personal encounter, a dialogue, with God.

Recognizing that all of our gifts are blessings from God, we respond in kind by “blessing” God: “because God blesses, the human heart can in return bless the One Who is the source of every blessing.” A twofold movement occurs: our prayer of blessing rises to God, and His blessing descends upon us, in a continuous cycle of grace.

Closely linked to the concept of blessing is “adoration,” whereby we realize our status as creatures, utterly dependent upon God for our very existence.

Adoration necessarily involves a healthy sense of humility. By seeing ourselves as we truly are, and admitting our human limitations and frailties, we are better able to feel our need for God.

Children are especially open to this spiritual insight, and we can learn from their readiness to glimpse God’s presence. Asking our children how God has blessed them each day may be a helpful prelude to family prayer time.

Engaging the Gospel – Epiphany of the Lord

Epiphany of the Lord: Gospel – Matthew 2:1-12

The term “Epiphany” is derived from the Greek word meaning “manifestation” – we celebrate the “manifestation of Jesus as Messiah of Israel, Son of God and Savior of the world.” The divinity of Christ is made manifest not only to the people of Israel, but to all nations, which are represented by the “wise men (magi) from the East” (Catechism paragraph 528).

Just as the magi prostrated themselves before the infant Jesus, so too can we adore Jesus as He is made manifest to us today in the Eucharist — the sublime gift of the Lord’s Real Presence, His Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity (1374).

“It is highly fitting that Christ should have wanted to remain present to His Church in this unique way…He wanted to give us His sacramental presence” (1380).

“Because Christ Himself is present in the sacrament of the altar, He is to be honored with the worship of adoration” (1418).

May we grow in reverence, recognizing that when we enter our church, we “cross a threshold.” We step outside our flawed world and come before the Lord (1186). Let us cultivate our “sense of the sacred,” the “respect owed to the mystery of God Himself and to the whole sacred reality it evokes” (2144).

As St. John Paul II said,

Jesus awaits us in this sacrament of love. Let us not refuse the time to go to meet Him in adoration, in contemplation full of faith, and open to making amends for the serious offenses and crimes of the world. Let our adoration never cease.

— quoted in 1380.

Question for reflection: How do I pay homage to the Lord in the Eucharist?

 

Love God Above All

Summary of Catechism paragraphs 2052 through 2141:

  • The Ten Commandments are our roadmap to true freedom, as opposed to the bondage of sin; it is no accident that God revealed them after liberating the Israelites from slavery in Egypt, to teach a new way of life for a free people.
  • Indeed, this context is vital to understanding the profound meaning of the Commandments: they were given during a “theophany,” or God’s manifestation to His people, and His forming an intimate bond, a “covenant,” with them.
  • The Commandments are a great gift because they describe what we must do to abide in this deep relationship with God; He loved us first, and we respond with love toward Him by keeping the Commandments; the first three regard our right behavior toward God, and the rest govern our relationships with our neighbor.
  • The First Commandment expresses this wholehearted relationship: “I am the Lord your God…You shall have no other gods before Me.”
  • We follow this commandment by adoring God, submitting to Him as the Lord of all, to Whom we owe everything; by daily conversing with Him in prayer, uniting our sacrifices with Christ’s perfect sacrifice; by keeping the promises we make to God; and by helping others to come to the fullness of worship in the Church.
  • Conversely, we sin against God when we prefer other things to Him, and treat them as gods; this is idolatry; our idols need not be the false gods of paganism, for we create modern idols all of the time – money, power, pleasure, sports, etc.
  • We sin against God’s love when we are indifferent to Him, spiritually lazy, ungrateful, or hateful toward Him; we sin against hope when we despair of God’s mercy and forgiveness, or when we presume upon salvation without real conversion; we sin against faith by doubting or rejecting Church teaching.
  • Dabbling in the occult is a sin – e.g., reading horoscopes, going to mediums, engaging in magic; we also sin by falling into superstition, treating our prayers or sacraments as if they were magical formulas; to avoid superstition, we must have a proper disposition of encountering God, not trying to control Him.
  • The sin of sacrilege denigrates sacred things or persons, and is especially heinous when directed against the Eucharist, the Real Presence of Christ; other forms of irreligious behavior include testing God because we question His love for us.
  • By definition, atheism is a sin because of its outright denial of God, and agnosticism, which won’t discern one way or another, similarly fails to give God His due; yet an individual’s level of culpability varies greatly according to circumstances, especially if one has been scandalized by the sins of believers.

Live Your Faith

Each one of us is personally addressed by God in the Commandments, as the Hebrew text makes clear. When God says, “You,” He is using the singular form, not the plural, underscoring the personal relationship He courts with every single one of us.

This prompts us to examine our consciences, and reflect upon how faithfully we have given love in response to the One Who has loved us so. What do I put first in my life, prioritizing above everything else? If it’s not God, it’s an idol.

 

Engaging the Gospel: Epiphany of the Lord

Gospel – Matthew 2:1-12The Magi adore the Lord made manifest

“The Epiphany is the manifestation of Jesus as Messiah of Israel, Son of God and Savior of the world,” as he is adored “by the wise men (magi) from the East” (Catechism paragraph 528).

Pope Benedict XVI commented upon the meaning of the magi’s gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh:

These gifts have a profound significance: they are an act of justice. In fact, according to the mentality prevailing then in the Orient, they represent the recognition of a person as God and King, that is, an act of submission. They were meant to say that from that moment, the donors belonged to the sovereign and they recognize his authority.

Homily of January 6, 2010

In the same way, the Catechism teaches that we “render to God what we as creatures owe him in all justice” (2095) – first of all, adoration:

To adore God is to acknowledge him as God, as the Creator and Savior, the Lord and Master of everything that exists, as infinite and merciful Love…

To adore God is to acknowledge, in respect and absolute submission, the ‘nothingness of the creature’ who would not exist but for God. To adore God is to praise and exalt him and to humble oneself…confessing with gratitude that he has done great things and holy is his name. The worship of the one God sets [us] free from turning in on [ourselves], from the slavery of sin and the idolatry of the world.

Catechism paragraphs 2096-97

Question for reflection: In what ways do I adore the Lord?