Tag Archives: praise

Friday Thoughts: A Call to Praise God


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Come, let us sing to the Lord

and shout with joy to the Rock who saves us.

—Psalm 95:1


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Come,

Me? Am I included? Can I come as well? But you are God? Am I really allowed to join the celebration?

But Your Word simply says “Come”. It’s an open invitation, right? An open call; no qualifications, no applications, no background checks, no letters of introduction required?

It seems pretty clear. So I guess I shall. I shall come along. After all, I’ve followed crowds all my life, perhaps it’s time to follow the “great cloud of witnesses”—Your patriarchs and Your prophets, Your holy angels and Your holy saints. I will come along then. Forgive me though, Lord, for not being properly dressed. But if I were to first run home to change, I wouldn’t even know where to begin. Plus, I might then miss the entire affair.

No, I’ll come now, just as I am—no more excuses, no more procrastination—for the procession is well under way.

…let us sing to the Lord…

But…forgive me, Lord…there I go again, once more I begin a thought with such an ugly conjunction. “But”…I am so unprepared. Sing? Me? In Public? With my voice? You know well the noise I make. But then again, I cannot deny it, when I am alone, You know Lord that I love to sing. I truly do. All kinds of melodies, all kinds of hymns. I even compose. And chanting, that too I do. In fact, to be really honest, I don’t think I’m half bad. Come to think of it, I’m actually pretty good. Relatively speaking, of course. Put it this way, within my little “monastic cell”, within the confines of my “inner room”—with the “door” well “shut”—I not only “sing”, but “dance”.

Perhaps it’s time to take the show on the road?

…and shout with joy…

Yes. With this one there are no “ifs, ands, or buts.” That I can do. I can shout. I can “shout with joy”. “You are fantastic! Truly!! I love You!!!” And the more I say it, the more joy I feel. So shout? Shout with joy? Yes, that I will do. I do it now. Right now. Even if it wakes my neighbors. Maybe precisely because it might wake my neighbors. I shout. I shout. I shout. “JOY!” “JOY!” “JOY!” And as I do, I remember. A sweet memory. A joyful memory. A memory that makes a small smile grow larger and eventually into a laugh, an out-loud laugh, even while sitting all by myself. And yet, that’s just the point, “with joy” we are never alone. For a memory—a memory transformed by hope—brings resurrection and divine significance to even the smallest details of our life. “The memory of the just will be blessed.” Bringing the Kingdom to life, but not only in our here and now, for the Holy Spirit also breathes life into our past.

The specific memory I now recall—the one currently “at hand” and recreating “earth as it is in heaven”—involves a classmate I knew many years ago in elementary school. Her name was Joy.

I don’t remember shouting with Joy, but I do clearly recall that she was the prettiest girl in class.

…to the Rock who saves us.

I blame you. You blame me. We both blame Adam. He blames Eve. She blames Satan. He doesn’t care about anything, all he wants is for us not to blame ourselves. For if we don’t “repent” how can we possibly “believe in the gospel”? And that’s the beginning of the end of not buying the “good news”. For the Kingdom begins when we realize we need to be saved from ourselves. And without that self knowledge, without the realization that we cannot anchor ourselves to ourselves, we drift falsely self-assured in utter chaos, “without form and shape, with darkness over the abyss.”  In other words, for you and for me, and for all who “cast the first stone”, “the kingdom of God” is no longer “at hand.”

Lucky for us, some stones miss their target. Some even fall right as they fall into place. For “the stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone.” Jesus, rejected by the builders of earthly kingdoms, fell asleep on the wood of the cross. He slept the sleep of death, dead to all the world, while His soul was still awake, truly awake to all those “saved in hope.” For “the hope of the just brings them joy.”

Jesus is then “the Rock”—“the Rock” who was laid within the “rock-hewn tomb”.

He is the “cornerstone” and the entire “temple”—the stone “temple” totally torn “down” (“not one stone…left upon another”) and completely raised up “in three days”.

He is “the living stone” toward whom we “shout with joy”.

Jesus is truly “the Rock who saves us.”

And even if we reject His plea to be “also, like living stones”, failing to let ourselves “be built into a spiritual house”, there will still be praise. For His glory won’t be denied:

As Jesus Himself replied: “I tell you, if they keep silent, the very stones will cry out!”


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Come, let us sing to the Lord

and shout with joy to the Rock who saves us.

—Psalm 95:1


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—Howard Hain

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Morning Thoughts: Like Unto Thine

February 14th

My Lord, my God, my Love,

Where can I begin?

Just this week alone, how much you have given…

A chance to help someone pursue good, a chance to help someone turn from darkness, a chance to help someone enter further into Your church, a chance to help someone see hope for his entire family, a chance to help someone re-encounter the little girl she once was, a chance to help someone see the magnificence of marriage, a chance to help someone regain her composure within the day-to-day grind, a chance to help a young someone meet You in Your gift of the Eucharist, a chance to help someone realize he is an instrument of Your peace…

That someone being helped is someone else, and that someone is also me.

Your gifts, my good, good Lord, send forth ripples of grace, covering those we serve for Your sake, covering ourselves, and covering so many others, so many who are so far beyond the limits of what we can see.

You are real. You exist today, right now. You will never be outdone in love or in generosity.

How could I ever say enough?

Give me Lord the chance to help someone praise You for all eternity.

Increase Your love in me.

Increase my love of souls.

And when, O Lord, this trek, this adventure, this stroll, comes to an end, may I please, good, good Lord, be with You?

May I truly rest with You, as I begin to do now—within arm’s reach—Your Kingdom, Your Promise, Your Joy, Your Peace.

It is all too much.

It makes me wonder why…why I…why anyone…would ever desire to sell an eternal soul in order to purchase a fleeting here and now—when all that could ever truly be desired is offered through the tiniest of tastes and the smallest of sips—Your Body and Blood, cloaked within the appearance of daily bread and table wine.

Thank You, Lord.

From my heart to Yours:

“O Jesus, meek and humble of heart, make my heart like unto Thine.”

O Jesus, this day, be my Valentine.


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—Howard Hain

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Friday Thoughts: Heaven Touching Earth

louis-cretey-the-vision-of-saint-bruno-late-17th-century

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The sound of heaven touching earth is silence.

For silence is the absence of interruption.

And in heaven there is continual praise. A constant, perpetual, ceaseless, indescribable continuation of everything good. There is no interruption of absolute goodness. No interruption of peace or prayer, no interruption of joy or love.

In heaven, then, the eternal roar may perhaps be so inadequately described as an incomprehensible silence—a silence that blissfully deafens.

Deafens us to any pain or fear.

Deafens us to even the thought, the idea, or the conception that there could be any pain or fear.

So then when heaven touches earth, does not that same awesome eternal silence also reign here too, as it does in heaven?

Silence reigns.


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—Howard Hain

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(image: Louis Cretey, “The Vision of Saint Bruno”, late 17th century)

Sing a New Song

In the days after Easter our readings during the liturgy speak of the growth of the church as well as the source of its growth, the Risen Christ, who abides with us in signs and mysteries.

The church’s growth is never easy;  Stephen’s persecution, described in the Acts of the Apostles, tells us that.

But we have “Bread from heaven,” better than the heavenly manna. This bread  keeps you alive forever.

“Sing to the Lord a new song; his praise is in the assembly of the saints.” We’ve been given a new song to sing each day, Augustine says in his commentary.

“A song is a thing of joy; more profoundly, it is a thing of love.” To sing we’ve been  given the gift of love, a new convenant,  a new promise of a kingdom.

“You have heard the words: Sing to the Lord a new song. Now you want  to know what praises to sing. The answer is: His praise is in the assembly of the saints. If you desire to praise him, then live what you express. Live good lives, and you yourselves will be his praise. Singers become the song.”

Praise

Here’s Augustine, wise as ever, with some thoughts on the Easter Alleluia.

“ Our thoughts in this present life should turn on the praise of God, because it is in praising God that we shall rejoice for ever in the life to come; and no one can be ready for the next life unless he trains himself for it now. So we praise God during our earthly life, and at the same time we make our petitions to him. Our praise is expressed with joy, our petitions with yearning. We have been promised something we do not yet possess, and because the promise was made by one who keeps his word, we trust him and are glad; but insofar as possession is delayed, we can only long and yearn for it. It is good for us to persevere in longing until we receive what was promised, and yearning is over; then praise alone will remain.”

And one of my favorite passages from CS Lewis as he discovers what praise means:

“,,,the most obvious fact about praise — whether of God or anything — strangely escaped me. I thought of it in terms of compliment, approval, or the giving of honour. I had never noticed that all enjoyment spontaneously overflows into praise unless . . . shyness or the fear of boring others is deliberately brought in to check it. The world rings with praise — lovers praising their beloved, readers their favourite poet, walkers praising the countryside, players praising their favourite game — praise of weather, wines, dishes, actors, motors, horses, colleges, countries, historical personages, children, flowers, mountains, rare stamps, rare beetles, even sometimes politicians or scholars. . . . Except where intolerably adverse circumstances interfere, praise almost seems to be inner health made audible. . . . I had not noticed either that just as men spontaneously praise whatever they value, so they spontaneously urge us to join them in praising it: ‘Isn’t she lovely? Wasn’t it glorious? Don’t you think that magnificent?’ The Psalmists in telling everyone to praise God are doing what all men do when they speak of what they care about. My whole, more general, difficulty about the praise of God depended on my absurdly denying to us, as regards the supremely Valuable, what we delight to do, what indeed we can’t help doing, about everything else we value.”  Reflections on the Psalms