Saint Ignatius, in Principle and Foundation, states that we are called to Praise God, Reverence God, Serve God and by means of that to save our souls, (Spiritual Exercises # 23). How then can we live out the principle of reverence towards God?
Moses and His Vocation
As Moses drew close to the Burning Bush that he noticed was burning but not being consumed, he heard a very clear command from the bush itself: “Take off your sandals because you are walking on holy ground!” This was the voice of God and Moses did obey, thereupon removing his sandals. God spoke to Moses through the Burning Bush.
From the burning bush God spoke to Moses and entrusted this man of God with a most sublime vocation—to free the Israelites from the slavery of Egypt. Of course, Moses played one of the most important roles in the history of salvation. As Moses freed the Jews from the slavery of Pharaoh, so Jesus came to free us from the modern slavery of sin.
A crucial and pivotal moment of God’s communication to Moses was this act of reverence, this act of homage—the removal of his sandals because he was walking on holy ground.
Pope Benedict and Reverence
Pope Benedict XVI made this statement with respect to a modern lackadaisical, nonchalant attitude too often manifest, even in church. The Pope emeritus stated: “We have lost the sense of the sacred in our churches….” Sad to say, the dust of the world has filtered inside the sanctuary. The profane has crowded out the sacred. The mundane prevails over the sanctified. The eternal is relegated and subordinate to the temporal. Material values surpass the desire for the spiritual. Time rules over eternity!
Enmeshed in a world that blinds us to the sublime, to the eternal, to God Himself, what can we do to recover the sense of the Sacred? We would like to offer a few suggestions to help us rediscover the greatness of God and our own sublime vocation—a vocation to praise and reverence God in time and for all eternity.
1. Example of the Magi
Once the Magi finally arrived before the most sublime Lord of Lord’s and King of King’s—the Infant King in the arms of Mary—they prostrated themselves and opened their coffers presenting Him with Gold, Frankincense, and Myrrh. (A bumper sticker expressed it well: “Wise men still find Jesus in the arms of Mary.”) The more we discover a sincere, humble, filial devotion to Mary, the more we will be capable of paying homage and reverence to Jesus. (Mt.2:1-12)
2. Faith in the Real Presence
We must renew our faith and belief in the Real Presence of Jesus in the Tabernacle. Many have never learned, others have simply forgotten, still others do not really care about the Real Presence of Jesus in every Tabernacle around the world. With the Apostle Saint Thomas let us lift our hearts in praise and reverence and say: My Lord and my God!
3. Show Proper Reverence
Before the burning bush Moses took off his sandals in reverence. This Burning Bush was nothing more than a type or symbolic representation of God; it was not really God. In all the Tabernacles, Jesus, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, is really present. A concrete gesture that all believing Catholics should do is that of a genuflection! How?
Hands should be held together in reverence over your heart. Then the right knee should go all the way down to the ground—not partially, but all the way down to the ground! Then very gently ascend. This corporal gesture of reverence is very important, of sublime significance. It manifests belief in the King of Kings, Jesus the Lord. Furthermore, those who execute this gesture properly are also giving good example to others. Who knows, maybe those weak in faith can rediscover their faith by the good example of those who genuflect well!
4. Hymns of the Angelic Doctor
On one occasion a man commented that his favorite musician was none other than St. Thomas Aquinas. The Angelic Doctor was asked by the Holy Father to write the Office for the Solemnity of Corpus Christi; Saint Bonaventure was also asked. Once Bonaventure read through the sublime hymns of Aquinas, he ripped up his compositions in all humility, giving pride of place to the writings of the Angelic Doctor.
The point we are making? Learning some of the basic hymns of Saint Thomas Aquinas can sow within the depths of our souls a real appreciation for the beauty in sacred music and help us to arrive at a true reverence for our three times Holy God! What might be some of these sacred songs or hymns? Tantum Ergo, O Salutaris Hostia, Sacrum Convivium, Pange Lingua… just to mention a few! These classical hymns can catapult you from your dreary and prosaic existence to the sublime, and help you arrive at a true reverence for God!
5. Angels and Their Mission
When the Angel of Portugal appeared to the three little children at Fatima, he bowed down in reverence and taught the children how to speak to God. One of the primary thrusts of the prayer of the Angel was that of reverence before a Holy God. Then, during the third apparition (1916) the Sacred Host and Chalice were suspended in the air—the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Jesus in the Eucharist. The Angel prostrated himself in total reverence and taught the shepherd children to prostrate themselves and say a prayer of reverence and praise.
Once again, we must rediscover a sense of awe and real reverence before Jesus, the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords, in the most Holy Eucharist! One of the primary roles of the highest choirs of angels in heaven is to praise God for all eternity. This of course is a call to reverence God. Through the intercession of Saint Thomas Aquinas, the angels, and Mary, the Queen of the angels and saints, may we learn the art of praising and reverencing God in time and for all eternity!