Part One: Praise & Worship

September 22, 2021

Something new is coming on Oct 23rd, SMOY Prays. It’s an evening of Adoration with Praise and Worship and it’s family-friendly. Now honestly, Praise and Worship sounds scary to long-time Catholics of a certain age…or maybe even not so much of a certain age. The idea of praising and worshiping God might have you both excited and a bit nervous about what’s going to happen, so let’s talk.

Genesis 1:27 tells us that "God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him, male and female he created them." Then CCC 362 (Catechism of the Catholic Church) tells us that “The human person, created in the image of God, is a being at once corporeal and spiritual.” What’s that mean? It means we are a body-soul composite. Our soul doesn’t live outside our body and our body doesn’t work without our soul.

God created us, so He knows us best. He knows that our bodies help us experience the world around us and that we use our bodies to express what’s in our soul. Think about Mass or the Sacraments for a minute. God doesn’t need water, oil, incense, or human touch to baptize, confirm, or ordain someone, but we, as body-soul composites, need those visible signs of the invisible spiritual reality. Along with physical items like candles, vestments, bread, and wine, we also use our physical bodies to worship Him in the Mass. We genuflect when we enter the pews, we stand alert to listen to the words Jesus spoke directly to us in the Gospels and we kneel in reverence at the moment of Jesus’ sacrifice.

Mass, the worship that God asks of us, requires us to sit, stand and kneel at the appropriate times. Our private and public prayer outside of Mass lets us use many different postures. The Catechism in CCC 2703, even tells us that “God seeks worshippers in Spirit and in Truth, and consequently living prayer that rises from the depths of the soul. He also wants the external expression that associates the body with interior prayer, for it renders him that perfect homage which is his due.” How should we interpret that?

Our posture can express our interior prayer. If we are sorry for our sins and seek God’s forgiveness, we can pray on our knees or even lying flat on the floor (lying prostrate). We can drop to our knees when we are overcome with God’s grandeur or are pleading with Him for something. If we are stand, we can express being reverent or coming to God ready to serve Him. Our eyes can be open to take in creation or beautiful sacred art, or they can be closed to focus on listening to God’s voice. Our hands can be folded in prayer in our laps, or they can be raised high above our heads to praise God in moments of joy and thankfulness. All these postures are appropriate at different times for the prayers we are expressing.

That brings me back to SMOY Prays and that uncomfortable feeling that Catholics sometimes have in expressing themselves during praise and worship. All I can say is give it a try and let your body express how you feel about the Lord. Sing out loud (really loud) to praise God and to worship who He is. Raise your hands to acclaim His goodness. It’s all appropriate. Take time to love the Lord back in Adoration for all the ways He loves you. You might see me with arms raised or singing loudly, so don’t be shy, join in. Let your body express what’s in your soul.

Written by: Birgitt Hacker

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