Thursday, March 26, 2009

Praise Him, Praise Him

The last kind of prayer we'll examine is prayer of praise. We can praise God in many ways, in our actions, in our words, and in our hearts. At the heart of praise is an acknowledgement of who God is.

The catechism continues:

2639 Praise is the form of prayer which recognizes most immediately that God is God. It lauds God for his own sake and gives him glory, quite beyond what he does, but simply because HE IS. It shares in the blessed happiness of the pure of heart who love God in faith before seeing him in glory. By praise, the Spirit is joined to our spirits to bear witness that we are children of God, testifying to the only Son in whom we are adopted and by whom we glorify the Father. Praise embraces the other forms of prayer and carries them toward him who is its source and goal: the "one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist."
One thing that struck me when I became Catholic was the realization that one could sing (or chant) prayer. We often praise God through song, and this itself is a form of prayer. (As a side note, this helped me realize that while I condemned "rote prayers" as vain repetition, I had no qualms repeating praises in song, and I didn't consider this to be vain.) There's a saying, commonly attributed to St. Augustine, which says "Qui bene cantat bis orat," - Who sings well prays twice.

2641 "[Address] one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with all your heart." Like the inspired writers of the New Testament, the first Christian communities read the Book of Psalms in a new way, singing in it the mystery of Christ. In the newness of the Spirit, they also composed hymns and canticles in the light of the unheard-of event that God accomplished in his Son: his Incarnation, his death which conquered death, his Resurrection, and Ascension to the right hand of the Father. Doxology, the praise of God, arises from this "marvelous work" of the whole economy of salvation.
Once again, the mass itself is one big prayer, and it envelopes all the various forms of prayer, rolling them into a flawless whole.

2643 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."

Then I will go to the altar of God,
to God my exceeding joy,
and I will praise you with the lyre,
O God, my God.
(Ps 43:4)

Oh give thanks to the Lord; call upon his name;
make known his deeds among the peoples!
Sing to him, sing praises to him;
tell of all his wondrous works!
(Ps 105:1-2)

They ate their meals with exultation and sincerity of heart, praising God and enjoying favor with all the people. And every day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved. (Acts 2:46-7)

He leaped up, stood, and walked around, and went into the temple with them, walking and jumping and praising God. (Acts 3:8)

Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that confess his name. (Heb 13:15)


Russell said...

There are two other types of prayer that you should mention; although you would not be able to fully examine them in just one blog entry: discursive meditation (CCC 2705-2708) and infused contemplative prayer (CCC 2709-2719).

Discursive meditation, or mental prayer, is where you leave vocal prayer, which is the prayer you've been examining, behind. Meditating on the different mysteries of the rosary is the beginning of this type of prayer.

Discursive meditation opens the door to infused contemplative prayer, where prayer does not originate from within ourselves, but from the Holy Spirit. When we begin to pray this way, we can truly "pray without ceasing."

Stephanie said...

Yeah, I think those fall under "expression of prayer" in the catechism (vocal/meditative/contemplative). Here I just wanted to look at kind of the various aims behind prayer, as talked about in this section of the catechism, and not specifically the expression of those aims. (I did leave off one, blessing/adoration, because I had to fit it into 40 days.) :-) I realize my wording wasn't very precise though, as "form" could really mean either!