Of all of the expressions of prayer, the most sublime and exalted is that of PRAISE. Saint Ignatius in the Spiritual Exercises, Principle and Foundation (#23) starts out attesting to the fact that Man is created to praise God. Very interesting, before anything else, man is first and foremost created by God so that he might praise God. No doubt, we must reverence God, serve God, submit to God, obey God, listen to God, and multiple other actions we must carry out in our relationship to God, but above all our actions and tributes to God, PRAISE is the summit of the mountain, the first and foremost in the hierarchy of importance!!!
CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH ON PRAISE—ADORATION. Praise and adoration are closely related, often interchangeable. The Catechism of the Catholic Church offers a short but excellent explanation of ADORATION:
“ADORATION is the first attitude of man acknowledging that he is a creature before his Creator. It exalts the greatness of the Lord who made us and the almighty power of the Savior who sets us free from evil. Adoration is homage of the spirit to the King of glory, respectful silence in the presence of the “ever-greater” God. Adoration of the thrice-holy and sovereign God of love blends with humility and gives assurance of our supplications.” (CCC # 2628)
ANGELIC BEINGS AND PRAISE. Saint Thomas Aquinas, the Angelic Doctor, brilliant in all aspects of theological divisions and explanations, divides the angels into nine choirs. The highest, the most powerful, and the most intelligent is the choir with the title of Seraphim. According to Aquinas, the primary and fundamental purpose of the Seraphim, who are in heaven before the throne of the Triune God, is simply to praise and worship God for all eternity. So for both angels and the human person, the most exalted call or vocation is to praise God. “Holy, holy, holy Lord God of hosts. Heaven and earth are full of your glory. Hosanna in the highest. Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. Hosanna in the highest.”
HELPFUL ACRONYM: A.C.T.S. This short acronym of four letters can prove extremely useful in ordering our prayer life, our priorities and pursuits—A.C.T.S.
A = ADORATION… First and foremost, we are all called to adore God with all our heart, mind, soul, being, and strength; then to love our neighbor as ourselves.
C = CONTRITION… Being sinners and failing God often. The Bible states that the just man falls seven times a day. (Prov 24:16) We must beg God’s pardon and forgiveness for our transgressions and sins, always trusting in His mercy.
T = THANKSGIVING… We should never allow a day to transpire without spending at least a short time, hopefully a long time, in rendering thanks to God. We are in debt to God for all that we have. With the Psalmist let us lift our hearts in gratitude: “Give thanks to the Lord for He is good; His mercy endures forever.” (Ps 136:1)
S=SUPPLICATION. The great Saint Augustine states the utter truth: “We are all beggars before God.” In supplication, we implore God for all the things—both material and spiritual—that we are in desperate need of in order to live a life of security and dignity.
Note: These are the four basic sentiments of prayer. However, the first in the hierarchy of importance is that of praising God and striving to do it with every fiber of our being. We must constantly strive to praise God in this life because we will be doing it for all eternity.
This being the case, what are some channels, or means, or simply some ways that we can offer to Almighty God the praise that He undoubtedly deserves from us, His creatures??? We will offer a list with the hope that you will implement these channels of praise to enrich your spiritual life, to enrich and enhance your filial relationship to your Heavenly Father who loves you so very much!
1. THE BOOK OF PSALMS. No doubt whatsoever, the greatest Prayer Book extant is that of the Psalms. Many are attributed to King David, the poet, mystic, and writer, and they are replete with prayers expressing the full gamut of the sentiments of the human heart in all their variety. Many of the Psalms express the attitude of praise implicitly. Whereas some of the Psalms are nothing except praise.
2. PSALMS 148-149-150. The Book of Psalms contains 150 in total. How interesting in the composition of the totality of the Psalms is the fact that the last three of the Psalter are dedicated totally and unreservedly to the praise of God. In a certain sense God, who speaks through the Psalms, is saying to us: “Start your life on earth praising God on the day of your Baptism; but also end your life giving praise to God. If done, you will be praising Me for all eternity in heaven with the angels and saints.”
3. DANIEL 3. It is hard to find one chapter in the totality of the Bible itself that is more replete with copious expressions of praise than that found in the Prophetic Book of Daniel, most specifically Chapter 3. By the way, this is also one of the longest chapters in the Bible—100 verses! The majority of the words and verses cry out to nature, for this element of God’s creation resounds in praise of the Creator—sun and moon and stars, praise the Lord… light and darkness, cold and heat, praise the Lord… animals and sea-animals, praise the Lord. This canticle of praise especially on the beauty of God’s creation can serve as a powerful elevator to lift our whole being on high to praise God.
4. THE BENEDCITUS. Throughout the world in Morning Prayer (Laudes) the totality of the Catholic Church lifts up its voice to praise God through the prayer that was uttered by the father of Saint John the Baptist, Zechariah. After having doubted God through the ministry of the Archangel Gabriel and having been struck dumb, upon recovering his voice, the first thing he utters is a beautiful canticle of praise that is called the “Benedictus”—meaning Blessing! Get into the habit of praying this beautiful and powerful canticle of praise, uniting yourself with Holy Mother Church every day.
5. THE LITURGY OF THE HOURS. Following up on the prayer of praise of Zechariah, the Benedictus, why not learn the art of praising God through praying the LITURGY OF THE HOURS. In this prayer of the Church that Deacons and priests pray every day as a commitment in the reception of Holy Orders, the lay people are also strongly encouraged to undertake this most noble spiritual enterprise and practice. Actually, there are five separate times or hours during the day that can be prayed: Morning Prayer, Midday Prayer, Evening Prayer, Night Prayer, and the Office of Readings. Even if lay people would pray the two hinge hours—Morning Prayer and Evening Prayer—beyond a shadow of a doubt, this practice would greatly enhance and enrich their attitude of praise. By the way, besides providing an excellent commentary on the Daily Readings in the Mass, the magazine Magnificat includes Morning Prayer and Evening Prayer as part of their daily text. Closing up on this topic we encourage you to read the excellent writings of Fr. Tim Gallagher on The Liturgy of the Hours. If this is done, your knowledge and appreciation of this form of praise will skyrocket!
6. THE MAGNIFICAT. Once again, with respect to the Liturgy of the Hours and Biblical passages dedicated to praising God, the Magnificat should be part and parcel of our life of praise. This prayer is prayed in the Liturgy of the Hours every evening of the year. Of all the prayers of praise that can be offered, this is without doubt one of the greatest. Why? The Magnificat is a hymn and canticle of praise that flowed from the depths of the Immaculate Heart of Mary in the context of her visit to her cousin, Saint Elizabeth. The New Testament has just a few words of the Blessed Virgin Mary recorded. However, this is the longest Biblical expression of Mary’s words and a hymn and canticle of praise of the greatest depth, simplicity, holiness, and inspiration. Praising God through the most pure and Immaculate Heart of Mary is most pleasing to our Triune God.
My soul magnifies the Lord,
and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
because He has regarded the lowliness of His handmaid.
For behold, henceforth all generations shall call me blessed,
because He who is mighty has done great things for me,
and holy is His name.
His mercy is from generation to generation,
on those who fear Him.
He has shown might with His arm,
He has scattered the proud in the conceit of their heart.
He has put down the mighty from their thrones,
and has exalted the lowly.
He has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich He has sent away empty.
He has given help to Israel, His servant, mindful of His mercy,
even as He spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to his posterity forever.
7. THE GLORY BE. Given that this short prayer is said often by practicing Catholics, we can easily pray it mechanically, perfunctorily, and without attention. However, we must be careful! Even though short and consisting of very few words, the GLORY BE is the prayer of praise most used by Christian-Catholics. Indeed, this short prayer is one in which we praise the Trinity—the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Pray it slowly with attention, devotion, and unction. Call to mind the presence of the Blessed Trinity in your soul starting with your Baptism. Recall also that if you are living in the state of sanctifying grace, you are presently a living Temple of the Blessed Trinity. Stop at times during the course of the day to praise the Trinity who lives within the very depths of your soul!!
8. THE CORPORAL ACT OF PRAISE AND WORSHIP. Every time you enter Church, when walking in front of the Blessed Sacrament, in the tabernacle or in the monstrance, where Jesus is truly present in His Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity in the consecrated Host, you must make a GENUFLECTION. By bending your right knee and touching the ground, even without words spoken corporally, you are saying with this gesture and hopefully from your heart: Jesus, I praise, adore, and worship you present in the Tabernacle, present in the Blessed Sacrament.
9. THE DIVINE PRAISES. At the conclusion of the Holy Hour and after the Benediction with the Blessed Sacrament, the Church praises God with the Divine Praises. What an excellent way to offer praise to God! What an excellent way to praise God in your heart, praying the Divine Praises after receiving Jesus in Holy Communion during Holy Mass. The Divine Praises are the following:
Blessed Be God; Blessed be His Holy Name; Blessed be Jesus Christ, true God and true man; Blessed be the Name of Jesus; Blessed be His Most Sacred Heart; Blessed be His Most Precious Blood; Blessed be Jesus in the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar; Blessed be the Holy Spirit, the Paraclete; Blessed be the great Mother of God, Mary Most Holy; Blessed be her Holy and Immaculate Conception; Blessed be her Glorious Assumption; Blessed be the Name of Mary, Virgin and Mother; Blessed be Saint Joseph, her Most Chaste Spouse; Blessed be God in His Angels and in His Saints. Amen.
10. PRAISE GOD WITH YOUR LIPS AND HEART, BUT ALSO WITH YOUR LIFE. In one of the many writings of the great Saint Augustine, he admonishes the followers of Jesus to praise God with their lips in prayer, but to be careful that they do not tarnish, blemish, besmirch, or contradict the praise that issues from their lips with the style of their lives. In other words, we must praise God in our fervent prayers, but also in the expression of our holy lives!!!
In conclusion, let us beg the Holy Spirit and Mary, the Spouse of the Holy Spirit, for the light, grace, and motivation to praise God with our lips, our hearts, our bodies, and our lives in this life, so that we may praise the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit in heaven forever and ever. Amen.