Oh, what a great thing it is, and how consoling, to serve as an instrument for God’s glory!— Venerable Bruno Lanteri
I used to wonder why God wanted our praise. The joyful communion of love in the Trinity is complete: What could add to it? What could our praise contribute? Why did it matter to praise God?
One Sunday, I received my answer. I had just celebrated the 11:00 a.m. Mass, and it was time for the announcements. As usual with this Mass, the church was full. Beside me stood Deacon Tom, much loved in the parish.
Deacon Tom was the “glue” that held things together on weekend Masses. He was present for all of them. He ensured that we had servers, Eucharistic ministers, and lectors and that they knew their roles. He prepared the chalice, the hosts, and the cruets and set them on the table for the procession with the gifts. I had never seen anyone work so diligently on his homilies, devoting hours and hours to the task during the week. The people loved his preaching.
At this point, due to age and health, Deacon Tom had to retire, and we shared this news at the Masses that weekend. Now, as the 11:00 a.m. Mass ended, I read the scripted announcement and then spoke my own words of appreciation. When I finished, the people stood and applauded, the kind of applause that goes on and on, when people want to show the sincerity and depth of their gratitude. Deacon Tom faced them, both embarrassed and moved.
The Mass ended, the final hymn was sung, and we processed out of the church. I stood there, greeting people as they exited. Every face was smiling, and many made comments such as “Nice Mass,” “Wonderful Mass,” and “Thank you for a lovely Mass.”
When all had left, I walked back to the rectory thinking about what had just happened. Something dawned on me. The uplifted hearts and the smiles were linked to what took place just minutes before: we had expressed, from our hearts, gratitude to another and, in so doing, had become happy ourselves.
That, I understood, was why God wanted our praise: because when we praise God something joyful enters our hearts and our lives. In the Mass we pray, “You have no need of our praise, yet our desire to thank you is itself your gift” (Weekday Preface IV). Yes, God does not need our praise for his sake but desires it for ours, because when we praise God, our hearts receive love, grace, and joy.
The Heart of the Angels
Venerable Bruno writes, “At the Gloria, I will seek the sentiments and the heart of the Angels.” When we pray the words, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to people of good will. We praise you, we bless you, we adore you, we glorify you,” and the whole of this prayer of praise, Venerable Bruno invites us to do so with the sentiments and heart of the angels on the night when Christ was born in Bethlehem (Luke 2:13–14).
God has taken flesh and lies in a manger. The angel proclaims “good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For today in the city of David a savior has been born for you who is Messiah and Lord” (Luke 2:10–11). As the shepherds gaze in wonder, a multitude of angels fills the heavens and sings God’s praise. Our Gloria in the Mass praises God with their same words.
With what appreciation of God’s work did the angels sing these words that night? With what understanding of the magnitude of the gift? With what joy? With what delight? With what desire to praise God for the immensity of his love? When you pray the Gloria at Mass, Venerable Bruno tells us, ask for their same sentiments. Ask for a heart like theirs, eager to proclaim God’s praises.
Pray the Gloria
Take a moment now to contemplate the angels’ prayer. If you find it helpful, open the Bible and read Luke 2:8–14. Then visualize the scene: the dark of night, the flocks of sheep, the shepherds, the glory of God filling the heavens, the joyful proclamation of the angel, the song of the angelic choir. Feel the delight that inspires these words. Ask for a share in that joy. Then, with the “sentiments and heart” of these angels, slowly pray the Gloria:
Glory to God in the highest (raise your heart on high; let it express joyful praise of God),
and on earth peace to people of good will (ask for God’s peace on this troubled earth).
We praise you (pause simply to recognize God’s love and goodness),
we bless you (pronounce his name with love and reverence; bless him for his works of love),
we adore you (lift your heart in reverent and joyful adoration of his love, his goodness),
we glorify you (express your love for God, glorify him with your heart, your words, your life),
we give you thanks for your great glory (thank him for his saving work in the world and in your life),
Lord God, heavenly King (welcome him with love as Lord, as King in your life),
O God, almighty Father (open your heart to the love and power of our heavenly Father),
Lord Jesus Christ, Only Begotten Son (turn now to Jesus, our Lord, the beloved Son in whom the Father takes delight),
Lord God, Lamb of God, Son of the Father (“Behold, the Lamb of God” [John 1:36]: see the divine Lamb; behold him; draw near to him with confidence),
you take away the sins of the world, have mercy on us (ask with confidence for the mercy that takes away sin);
you take away the sins of the world, receive our prayer (“Everyone who asks, receives” [Matt. 7:8]; present your prayer with trust in his promise);
you are seated at the right hand of the Father, have mercy on us (“Therefore he is always able to save those who approach God through him, since he lives forever to make intercession for them” [Heb. 7:25]; ponder these words).
For you alone are the Holy one (acknowledge the unique holiness, goodness, and love of Jesus),
you alone are the Lord (“At the name of Jesus every knee should bend . . . and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord” [Phil. 2:10–11]: profess him as the Lord of your life.),
you alone are the Most High (“you alone”: give him this special, unequalled place in your life, in your heart.),
Jesus Christ (the Son, our Savior),
with the Holy Spirit (the Paraclete, the Advocate, the Consoler),
in the glory of God the Father (our loving Father in heaven).
Venerable Bruno invites us to pray the Gloria in this way, from the heart, with these sentiments, when we are at Mass.
This article is from a chapter in Fr. Gallagher’s latest book, A Biblical Way of Praying the Mass: The Eucharistic Wisdom of Venerable Bruno Lanteri. It is available as an ebook or paperback from Sophia Institute Press.
We also recommend Fr. Gallagher’s previous books, A Layman’s Guide to the Liturgy of the Hours: How the Prayers of the Church Can Change Your Life and Overcoming Spiritual Discouragement: The Wisdom and Spiritual Power of Venerable Bruno Lanteri.