we began looking at what it means to worship God. We saw that there is little difference between worship, praise, and adoration. They’re all very close to giving honour, glory, respect, and reverence. In short, worshipping God is about loving God.
This past week, I’ve been hearing how much words of praise are part of our daily prayers. At a funeral recently, after the Lord’s Prayer, we prayed:
“For thine is the kingdom the power and the glory, now and forever.”
And in praying the Rosary, we say: “Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning is now and ever shall be, world without end.”
Both of these prayers are called “doxologies". A doxology is a short hymn of praise to God. These are called minor doxologies in order to differentiate them from the Greater Doxology, which is the Gloria in Excelsis Deo
The word "doxology" comes from the Greek, doxa
(glory) and logia
(saying), so it means "to give glory". Traditionally, these doxologies were added to the end of canticles or psalms and hymns. This is a practice used in the synagogue, where the Qaddish
, which is a short hymn of praise, is used to end each section of the service. In our own Liturgy of the Hours, the Glory Be is prayed after every psalm and canticle.
You may have heard the word doxology used to refer to one of the parts of Mass. The doxology at Mass ends the Eucharistic Prayer
“Through him, and with him, and in him, O God, almighty Father, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, all glory and honour is yours, forever and ever. Amen.”
And so, if you find it hard or awkward to worship God, other than telling Him that you love Him, you can add one of these doxologies that we know so well.
In the psalms, praise, blessing, and adoration are often together with thanksgiving:
“I thank you, Lord, with all my heart; I sing praise to you before the gods.”
(Psalm 138: 1)
“I give thanks to Him and praise His Name.
” (Psalm 100:4)
“Let us come before Him with thanksgiving and extol Him with music and song.
” (Psalm 95:2)
It is very hard to separate worship from thanksgiving. It should not be a surprise that the word in Hebrew for thanksgiving, todah
, is derived from the verb yadah
which means "to praise".
So when you give thanks to God, remember that it is a form of worship.
As we saw last week, in the Catechism of the Catholic Church
, there is a category of prayer called Blessing and Adoration. It describes blessing:
Blessing expresses the basic movement of Christian prayer: it is an encounter between God and man. In blessing, God's gift and man's acceptance of it are united in dialogue with each other. The prayer of blessing is man's response to God's gifts: because God blesses, the human heart can in return bless the One who is the source of every blessing. (CCC 2626)
I find the idea that we can bless God a bit hard. God is the giver of all gifts; He sends us his blessings. Our appropriate response is to give Him thanks, to offer Him glory and honour, and to worship, praise, and adore Him.
When I was growing up, I was part of a charismatic youth group. It is very common in a charismatic setting to vocalize prayers of praise out loud while others are praying. If you were to walk in on charismatic prayer, you might hear one person offering intercessory prayers out loud (for example) while everyone else is responding all throughout with “we praise you, Lord” or “we glorify you, Jesus” or “glory and honour be to you, Lord Jesus” and “holy, holy, holy” or “we praise you, we bless you” or any other combination of words that let God know that we worship Him.
In that context, it makes sense to “bless” God because it doesn’t mean that we are blessing Him like He blesses us; it means that we are praising Him.
This is why the words of the Gloria
say, “We praise you, we bless you, we adore you, we glorify you, we give you thanks for your great glory.”
We spoke about adoration last week as a synonym of worship and praise. When we adore God, we are praising and worshipping him.
But the word "adoration" for Catholics has another very special and specific meaning: Adoring Christ’s Presence in the Blessed Sacrament.
I remember taking my kids when they were little to our parish’s Adoration chapel one day. That evening, their mother asked them what they had done that day, and my eldest said, “We went to church and sat there doing nothing.”
For many of us, that’s what going to Adoration feels like.
Sitting in front of a piece of unleavened bread because we believe that it is Jesus and telling him that “we praise him, we bless him, we glorify him, and we adore him” can be awkward.
But don’t let that stop you. Jesus is present to you in the Most Blessed Sacrament. The best way to “do Adoration” is to try to be present to Him. There’s nothing you need to do. Sit in silence and let Him gaze upon you. If the words “I love you” or “Thank you” flow out of your mouth or fill your thoughts, let them. Before you know it, you will be saying to Him how awesome and majestic He is. You will be worshipping.
The Church teaches that there are 5 categories to prayer: Blessing and Adoration, Prayer of Petition, Prayer of Intercession, Prayer of Thanksgiving, and Prayer of Praise. When we pray we should try to include all five. Don’t let awkwardness prevent you from praising and glorifying God.
“Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit; as it was in the beginning is now and ever shall be, world without end.”
In every blog post, Deacon Pedro takes a particular topic apart, not so much to explore or explain the subject to its fullness, but rather to provide insights that will deepen our understanding of the subject. And don’t worry, at the end of the day he always puts the pieces back together. There are no limits to deaconstructing: Write to him and ask any questions about the faith or Church teaching: [email protected]