One of the most difficult forms of prayer is the Prayer of Praise. Petition comes easier because we know (or think we know) what we need. Thanksgiving is a little easier because we can easily realize all that we have been given. Sorrow stems from our knowledge of ourselves and of our actions. Praise, as I said, is more difficult; and yet, our Liturgy revolves around the praise of God. The angels have no difficulty because they “see” the glory of God. They are not bored or tired of “looking,” because God is infinite in all his beauty, wisdom and glory. Sometimes we think (in a silly way) we will be bored after a while in heaven. That is because we do not know God (directly). Like scientists here, the more they see and find, the more they proceed with inquiry. They are as humans hampered by distractions, fatigue or other human conditions. But this is not so in heaven. These conditions do not interfere with our praise of God. Our praise starts here on earth. We know by FAITH. We are limited by how we know in our human condition; nevertheless, we should praise God even in this life. Our Lord implies that there is beauty and wonder beyond our present condition when he says that “eye has not seen, and ear has not heard…what God has prepared for those who love him.” We cannot imagine what God has prepared for us in the life to come. Our Lord praised God the Father at the Last Supper even in his moment of human anxiety or distress at what it would cost him. We should be mindful of this as we hear the words of consecration. He gave praise and thanks to the Father before giving us that gift of the Holy Eucharist. Praise can occur, not only in times of exaltation, but also in dire moments. One word used, and that we take for granted, is “Alleluia.” This is a Hebrew word heard most prominently during the Easter season as we hail Christ who overcomes death and sin for us. We use it before the Gospel (usually singing it) because Christ is about to speak to us in his living Word. We say it at the conclusion of the Liturgy during Easter time, because we praise God for what he has done for us, namely, re-presenting his death and resurrection in the Liturgy of the Eucharist. The key to this word of praise is “el,” the Hebrew word for God. Angels have those letters in their names: Raphael, Michael and Gabriel. Even the Jewish airline is called “El Al.” In the composition of the word, “Alleluia,” you see the Hebrew letters, “el,” because we are praising God. Give emphasis and attention to the Alleluia the next time we sing it at Mass.
Filed under: Awalt Papers