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I am a Third Order Franciscan of the Province of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus.

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Reflections on the Divine Praises

As part of my ministry to a group at Holy Rosary, I have begun a series of reflections upon the Divine Praises which I would like to post on the blog over a series of several days. I intended these reflections to serve as a starting point for personal reflection upon each of the Divine Praises perhaps during a period of Eucharistic Adoration or just a time of quiet prayer. Feel free to comment on them if you feel that the Spirit is moving you.


The Divine Praises are a series of praise prayers, recited for generations after the benediction of the Blessed Sacrament. They are thought to be originally compiled in 1797 by Luigi Felici, S.J. to make reparation for blasphemy and profane language. Praises of the Immaculate Conception, the Assumption, the Sacred Heart, St. Joseph and the Precious Blood have been added since the mid-nineteenth century.

Why do we praise God?

God does not need our praise as if he needs some sort of ego boost. God is perfectly satisfied in himself. Nor does he demand our praises so that we might humiliate ourselves before him. We must always remember that humility is not the same as humiliation. God offers himself in love and the response to love is to offer love in return. Approaching God in humility means approaching God in reality - acknowledging that he is God and we are not. Approaching God in humility means being open about our needs - after all, he already knows them - and being open to what he might ask of us.

Our desire to praise God should naturally come out of our love for him. Indeed we say in our liturgy that even our desire to praise God pleases him. CS Lewis offers the analogy of a little boy who asks his father for a sixpence coin, a very small amount of English currency, to go and buy a gift for his father. The father accepts the gift and while he realizes he is not any richer for the transaction since he gave his son the money in the first place – still the gift means more to him than the original sixpence did.

Certainly we have a good deal to praise God for – our lives, our friends, our family, food, shelter, a good day at work, God’s many graces in our lives. We should also praise God for his graces in the life of others – especially if we find ourselves becoming envious of them. It is often easy or natural to ask God for help in our struggles and this prayer is pleasing to God as well. If it were not, Jesus would not have told us to ask of things from our Heavenly Father. Yet, just as it is natural to ask God for his blessings, so it should also be natural for us to thank God and praise God for blessings given.

The blessing prayers we offer arise out of the Jewish Berekhot tradition which recognizes that in praying “Blessed be God”, we are not asking for blessings upon God but instead that God is the source of all blessing. The Jewish tradition is to say one hundred Berekhot prayers a day – a repetition intended to help the Jewish faithful see more clearly how much God constantly blesses their lives.

How do we praise God?

We praise God with our mouths and voices. We praise God with our bodies. We should strive to praise God with our whole being. Let all that we are give praise to the Lord.

We praise God by treating God’s gifts with the respect that they deserve – whether that be our selves or all of creation. We praise God by treating all of his blessings as what they truly are - gifts of God. In treating the gift with honor, we honor the giver.

Where do we praise God?

We praise God in all places and at all times. Our entire lives should be in continuous praise of God. Both because it is the right thing to do and because in this way we will more closely enter into the divine life of heaven in which we will praise God for all time, where the angels cry out Holy, Holy, Holy. In our praises, heaven and earth will meet.

All praise to you O God who give to us every blessing!
You are the source of every blessing and of every gift
and I ask that I might join with the flower, the tree, the rock and the mountain
who endlessly give you praise.
To you alone the angels sing and the saints rejoice and bow down before your goodness
To sing endless praises before you is my one desire.
For you alone are holy and you alone are worthy of all praise.


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