Never have we lived in a society with so much information, but we have also lived in a world with so much confusion, and I would have to say massive confusion!
While the people were building the Tower of Babel (cf. Gen 11:1-9), God came down to confuse their tongues and so we have the multiplicity of languages and the confusion that follows from a lack of clear understanding.
If you were to stop somebody in the street and ask him this simple but all important philosophical question: why are you here in this world? what do you think his response would be? Let me express what might be some of the most common answers, and the philosophical systems they represent
- I am here to enjoy life, to enjoy life to the max—Hedonism
- I am here to make a lot of money—Materialism
- I am here to buy, buy, buy; to shop until I drop—Consumerism
- I am here to become someone, to become famous—Narcissism, the cult of self
- I am here for no real purpose at all—Nihilism
- I am here today and dead tomorrow, but will return shortly after—Reincarnationism
- I am here for a purpose, to help humanity—altruism
- I am here to learn all the secrets that nature can teach me—Rationalism
- I am born, I live, I die and that is it—Skepticism
- I have not that faintest idea why I am here—Fatalism
All of the above responses could be an interesting cross-section of assertions various people make as to why they are here on earth. However, for believers in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, none of these responses are true or will give us authentic happiness. Everybody has a philosophy of life, but there are false philosophies of life and then there is one true philosophy of life.
Saint Ignatius of Loyola in the Spiritual Exercises, an excellent program to grow in holiness and arrive at the reason for which we are created, offers us the true philosophy of life in the consideration that he calls Principle and Foundation. The text reads: Man is created to praise God, to reverence God, to serve God, and by means of that to save his soul. These few words say it all! All of the above assertions that are really false philosophies crumble before the reality of these few words in Principle and Foundation in the text of the Spiritual Exercises.
First and foremost, Saint Ignatius starts off by stating that we are called to Praise God! Following are just a few ways that we can praise God.
Praying, singing, or chanting the Psalms is an excellent means by which we can praise God. Not all, but many of the Psalms are explicitly songs and prayers to praise God. We invite our readers to go to the last three of the 150 Psalms—Psalms 148, 149, and 150! In these three Psalms you will find abundant food to nourish your soul and praise God.
The Blessed Virgin Mary spoke seven times recorded in Sacred Scripture. Can you name them? The longest expression of Mary’s words is found in her Magnificat,Mary’s canticle of praise, that the Church in her Liturgy of Hours prays every evening in Vespers or Evening prayer. This wonderful prayer starts off with these marvelous words: My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior…” (Mary’s Magnificat: Lk. 1:46-55). Pray Mary’s prayer of praise, her Magnificat, and you too will be praising God!
The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass
Of all of the prayers that exist in this world, there is no prayer greater than the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. The primary purpose of Holy Mass is the following: to praise God the Father, through the offering of God the Son, in the power of the Holy Spirit. This truth is succinctly summarized in the part of the Mass that we call the Doxology—which means praise! Through Him, with Him, and in Him, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, all glory and honor is yours, Almighty Father, forever and ever. Amen!
There we have it: we can best praise God by participating fully, actively, and consciously in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. May we learn to love Mass, attend Mass, and receive Holy Communion with faith, devotion, and fervor as often as possible. May we become missionaries and bring as many people to this source of grace and this great expression of praise of the Glorious Trinity!
Flowing very naturally from the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is that of Eucharistic Adoration.In many Parishes, Churches, Chapels, and Sanctuaries, there is the wonderful and must exalted practice of Eucharistic Adoration. After we have received Jesus in Holy Communion, the most natural response is to extend the fruits received in Holy Communion by Eucharistic Adoration. In our Parish, Saint Peter Chanel in Hawaiian Gardens, CA, Monday through Friday—aside from the 5 daily Masses, and sometimes funerals, there is Eucharistic Adoration from 6:30 a.m. until 8:00 p.m. People constantly enter, genuflect, and spend time in Eucharistic Adoration. Some make a short visit for a few minutes, others for half an hour; still others are in the habit of making their Holy Hour in front of the Eucharistic Lord.
Venerable Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen terms this The Hour of Power! How true! If we form the habit of praising the Lord Jesus in His Eucharistic Real Presence, then He blesses us, protects us, encourages us, enlightens us, and even anoints our words to extinguish the fiery darts of the enemy. I never forget the words of this short poem: “Whenever I see a Church, I stop to make a visit, so that when I die, the Lord won’t say “Who is it?” Let us get in the habit of adoring the Lord in this life, because that is what we will be doing for all eternity!
Devotion to the Angels
Among the highest choirs of angels in heaven—the cherubim and the seraphim—their principal duty in heaven is to simply praise the Eternal Triune God for all eternity… Holy, holy, holy, Lord God of hosts, heaven and earth are full of your glory. Hosanna in the highest. Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord. Hosanna in the highest. Therefore, if we really want to learn how to praise God, then we can turn to the angels and learn from them, and beg for their most powerful intercession. They will be glad to help us!
Praise God With Your Lives
Saint Augustine in one of his brilliant Easter sermons invites us all to be joyful and to praise God with our words. However, he admonishes us to not simply praise God with our words, but also with our lives! Let us turn to the saints, who have arrived at the total and irrevocable salvation of their souls (Principle and Foundation), and beg them to pray for us so that what we say with our words will not be contradicted by the lives we lead! May Our Lady, who taught us to praise God in her Magnificat, attain for us a harmonious blend of authenticity between what we say and the way we live!