It is hard to believe but Holy Week is about to begin. This is my favorite liturgical time of the year. This week we are able to relive the last few days of Jesus’ life on earth. Through the liturgy we can join Jesus in living out each of these days. It is Holy Week that shows us the Salvation given to us by God and all of the gifts that surround that, especially the Eucharist. It is in this week that we can truly feel the LOVE that God pours out to us in Jesus. This week begins with Palm Sunday. On Palm Sunday we celebrate the King of Kings, the beggar King, the King of Peace, who triumphantly rides in to the Holy City of Jerusalem on a borrowed donkey. The people are elated to see Him. They had just heard of how He had raised Lazarus from the dead, even though Lazarus had been dead for four days. This miracle worker was coming in to the City of God and the people were singing His praise. This was the One who would finally set them free. They waved palms and proclaimed from Psalm 118, “Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the Name of the Lord! Blessed is the King of Israel.” They sang songs of praise.
Praise is a very important part of the Church’s liturgy. All bishops, priests and deacons and brothers and nuns are required to pray the Liturgy of Hours each day, several times a day. Many lay people also join in with them in this prayer form. This prayer consists of a large number of prayers of praise. If you look at our mass, we are constantly offering prayers of praise. We even say, “It is right to give you thanks and praise”. My initial entrance in to the Church life began back in 1972 when I began attending a Catholic Charismatic prayer meeting. These prayer meetings are filled with praise and I have naturally adapted that in to my every day prayer life. I begin each morning praising God and do so many times throughout the day. Praise of God lifts me up and gives me strength and peace. I love to Praise God. It seems the natural thing to do. I think about when Jesus was told by the Pharisees to tell the people to stop singing their praises. He replied to them, “if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.” All of nature gives praise to God. Isaiah 55:12 says, “For you shall go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and the hills before you shall break forth into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.” You only have to stop for a few moments and observe nature to see how it praises God. I remember going on retreat for a week to the city of Assisi, the home of St. Francis, and waking up in the morning to the chirping of a multitude of birds. What a beautiful song of praise they sing.
We too, the highpoint of God’s creation, are especially called to give Praise to God. Psalm 117:1 says, “Praise the LORD, all you nations. Praise him, all you people of the earth.” When we praise God we are drawn closer to Him. We are then more open to allowing Him to perform miracles in our lives. Praising Him helps bring us humility. It also causes our enemies to flee. Praise is such an important prayer form, and so easy to do. It can be used from the very beginning of the day until the very end. It can be as simple as, “I praise you Lord.” The people of Jerusalem gave praise to Jesus on His triumphal entry in to the City of God. Unfortunately this praise was short lived. It was only a few days later that many of these same people were crying out, “crucify Him, crucify Him”. Our songs of praise cannot be like that. Our prayers of praise must also be part of our acceptance of who Jesus was and is today. We must study Him in the scriptures and hear about Him in homilies and receive Him in the Eucharist. That way our prayer of praise can be lasting and true. To encourage praise, I have included the following scriptures. I also highly recommend listening closely to the words at mass, and the songs at mass, and try praying the Liturgy of the Hours. God bless you in your songs of praise. Praise to you Lord Jesus Christ, King of Endless Glory.
SCRIPTURES CALLING US TO PRAISE GOD:
Psalm 150:1-6 Praise the Lord! Praise God in his sanctuary; praise him in his mighty heavens! Praise him for his mighty deeds; praise him according to his excellent greatness! Praise him with trumpet sound; praise him with lute and harp! Praise him with tambourine and dance; praise him with strings and pipe! Praise him with sounding cymbals; praise him with loud clashing cymbals!
Exodus 15:2 The LORD is my strength and song, and he is become my salvation: he is my God, and I will prepare him an habitation; my father’s God, and I will exalt him.
Judges 5:3 Hear, O you kings; give ear, O you princes; I, even I, will sing to the LORD; I will sing praise to the LORD God of Israel.
2 Samuel 22:4 I call upon the LORD, who is worthy to be praised, and I am saved from my enemies …
2 Samuel 22:50 Therefore I will give thanks to you, O LORD, among the heathen, and I will sing praises to your name.
Psalms 35:18 I will give you thanks in the great congregation: I will praise you among much people.
Psalms 35:28 And my tongue shall speak of your righteousness and of your praise all the day long.
Psalms 43:4 Then will I go to the altar of God, to God my exceeding joy: yes, on the harp will I praise you, O God my God.
Psalms 138:1 I will praise you with my whole heart: before the gods will I sing praise to you.
Daniel 2:23 I thank you, and praise you, O you God of my fathers, who have given me wisdom and might, and have made known to me now what we desired of you: for you have now made known to us the king’s matter.
Jeremiah 17:14 Heal me, O LORD, and I shall be healed; save me, and I shall be saved: for you are my praise.
Hebrews 13:15 By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name.
1 Peter 2:9 But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that you should show forth the praises of him who has called you out of darkness into his marvelous light;