Memorial: St. Peter Claver

Thursday, September 9, 2021

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 150, an all-out summons to praise God.

Psalm 150, with its four predecessors, creates a rousing chorus of praise to God. As the closing piece of the Book of Psalms, Psalm 150 summons all Creation to unbounded praise.


The prayer of praise may not come as easily to us as other types of prayer. We find the prayer of supplication easy – asking God for something. Even the prayer of thanks is natural to us. But even Pope Francis says that the prayer of praise might not come so readily:

The prayer of praise is quite different than the prayer we normally raise to God,
the Pope continued, when “we ask something of the Lord”
or even “thank the Lord”.

“We often leave aside the prayer of praise”.
It doesn’t come so easily to us, he said.
Some might think that this kind of prayer is only
“for those who belong to the renewal in the spirit movement,
not for all Christians.

The prayer of praise is a Christian prayer for all of us.
Each day during Mass, when we sing:
‘Holy, Holy…’, this is the prayer of praise.
We praise God for his greatness, for he is great.
And we tell him beautiful things, because we like it to be so”.

And it does not matter if we are good singers, the Pope remarked.
In fact, he said, it is impossible to imagine that
“you are able to shout out when your team scores a goal
and you cannot sing the Lord’s praises,
and leave behind your composure a little to sing.

Praising God is “totally gratuitous”, Pope Francis continued.
“We do not ask, we do not thank. We praise: you are great.
‘Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit…’. 

L’ Osservatore Romano

Psalm 150 calls us to a prayer of pure praise:

Hallelujah! Praise the Lord in the holy temple;
praise God in the firmament of divine power.
Praise the Lord for mighty acts;
praise God for excellent greatness.
Praise the Lord with the blast of the ram’s-horn; 
praise God with lyre and harp.
Praise the Lord with timbrel and dance; 
praise God with strings and pipe.
Praise the Lord with resounding cymbals; 
praise God with loud-clanging cymbals.
Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.
Hallelujah!

Psalm 150

By the culmination of the sequence in Psalm 150, there is a total lack of any specificity, and users of the psalm are invited to dissolve in a glad self-surrender that is to be enacted in the most lyrical way imaginable. Such praise is a recognition that the wonder and splendor of this God—known in the history of Israel and in the beauty of creation—pushes beyond our explanatory categories so that there can be only a liturgical, emotive rendering of all creatures before the creator.

Walter Brueggemann

We might try to offer this type of prayer in a simple manner, by naming God’s goodness – the goodness that we love and adore. We can do this in the same way that we tell any beloved being that we love them. Some prayer phrases might be:

  • You are beautiful in all Creation – in this morning’s dawn, this evening’s sunset.
  • You are just yet everlastingly kind.
  • Your power is stunningly gentle in a bird’s wing; it is overwhelming in the storm’s roar.
  • You are so humble to live within and among us.
  • You are infinitely loving through the gift of Jesus

Thoughts like these might also inspire us to a silent awe in which we offer wordless praise to our awesome God.


Music: No poem today, but two very different musical interpretations of Psalm 150 to inspire your prayer of praise

~ from Taize

Caesar Franck

Psalm 150: The Last Word

Wednesday of the Thirty-third Week in Ordinary Time

November 18, 2020


Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 150, the final chapter of the Book of Psalms.

When any of us writes or speaks an important message, we usually take pains to make sure the final comments are direct and powerful. We want our last words to make an significant impact on our audience.

I think the Book of Psalms wants to do the same thing.

So what’s the ultimate ringing word these sacred chapters leave with us?

And it’s not a gentle suggestion. The psalm charges us to SHOUT our praise! To make noise with our acclamations of God! To be absolutely cacophonous in our exaltation. We are to praise God:

  • with the blast of the trumpet,
  • with lyre and harp,
  • with timbrel and dance,
  • with strings and pipe.
  • with sounding cymbals,
  • with clanging cymbals

One might come away thinking we must be noisy in showing our love for God. But there are so many ways we “shout”, even in our silence. 

I think this morning of my Sisters at McAuley Convent, in the quiet accumulation of their elder years. There is very little noise in that beloved community. Still, everything about them shouts praise, gratitude, and faith – all without their even having to say a word.

True praise is an energy, not a sound. It is the direction of our whole being toward the God Who gives us life. It is the gathering of everything about our existence and lifting it all toward God in confidence of its transformation. 

It is the quiet sound of our every breath streaming “Alleluias” over all Creation. It is the final word of our being after everything else is said.

Let everything that has breath
praise the LORD! Alleluia


Poetry: Praising Manners by Rumi

We should ask God
To help us toward manners. Inner gifts
Do not find their way
To creatures without just respect.
If a man or woman flails about, they not only
Destroy their own house,
They incinerate the whole world.
Your depression is connected to your insolence
And your refusal to praise. If a man or woman is
On the path, and refuses to praise — that man or woman
Steals from others every day — in fact is a shoplifter!
The sun became full of light when it got hold of itself.
Angels began shining when they achieved discipline.
The sun goes out whenever the cloud of not-praising comes near.
The moment that foolish angel felt insolent, he heard the door close.

Music: J.S. Bach: Singet dem Herrn ein neues Lied, BWV. 225

“Singet!”
Bach’s motet springs to life with the insistent repetition of this word, bouncing between two choirs. It’s a joyful and dazzlingly virtuosic celebration of the human voice, culminating in a mighty four-voice fugue.
This motet was performed for Mozart when he visited Leipzig’s St. Thomas Church in 1789. (Bach was music director at the church from 1723 until his death in 1750). Johann Friedrich Doles, a student of Bach who directed the performance wrote,
As soon as the choir had sung a few bars, Mozart started; after a few more he exclaimed: ‘What is that?’ And now his whole soul seemed to be centered in his ears. When the song was ended, he cried out with delight: ‘Now, here is something one can learn from!’( taken from
https://thelistenersclub.com/2019/10/11/joyful-sounds-of-praise-five-musical-settings-of-psalm-150/ )