December 15, 2006

From the Editor Emeritus / John F. Fink

Prayers of adoration and praise

John F. Fink(Tenth in a series)

Since I’ve written about prayers of petition in my previous two columns, let me now turn to prayers of adoration and praise. I’ll cover thanksgiving and intercession next week.

Of all prayer forms, adoration ranks as the highest. As the Catechism of the Catholic Church tells us, “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” (#2628).

To some extent, every prayer is an act of adoration since we are acknowledging God’s greatness and our utter dependence upon him. Whether prayers of blessing, petition, intercession, contrition or praise, we concede that God is Lord and Master of everything that exists and that all our blessings come from him.

Jesus told us that the greatest commandment is, “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind” (Mk 12:30). Expressing our love for God by worshiping him is adoration.

The most perfect form of adoration is the Eucharistic Sacrifice because it is the sacrifice that Jesus himself made on the cross as a total offering to God the Father for our salvation. Other forms of worship or adoration, though, are also of great value, especially adoration of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament.

Prayers of praise are closest to prayers of adoration because they laud God for his own sake, simply because he is who he is. Many of the psalms are songs of praise. In fact, the title of the collection of the psalms, the Psalter, means “the Praises.” I plan to write more about the psalms in a later column.

The Old Testament Jews didn’t praise God only in the psalms, though. Many biblical prayers, and prayers the Jews still say today, begin with, “Blessed are you, our God, King of the universe.” God is always called “blessed” because of his great deeds.

St. Paul admonished his readers to praise God by “singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs with gratitude in your heart to God.” Paul himself gave praise to God frequently in his letters, as he did when he ended his First Letter to the Romans with “to the only wise God, through Jesus Christ be glory forever and ever. Amen.”

In our liturgy, the doxology—the praise of God—is the highest moment of expression. The Gloria of the Mass (“Glory to God in the highest”) is what is called the Greater Doxology while the prayer “Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit” is the Lesser Doxology.

The Lesser Doxology concludes every psalm and canticle in the Liturgy of the Hours. When Benedictine monks (and perhaps others) chant or recite it, they pay particular reverence by standing and bowing.

The doxology is also appended to the Our Father: “For the kingdom, the power and the glory are yours, now and forever.” †

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