Spiritual writers have always told us that we are either growing or regressing, never neutral.

Ron Rolheiser, OMI

Part of this means that we are either praising someone or demanding we be praised, offering gratitude, or muttering in bitterness, blessing or cursing, turning attention away from ourselves or demanding it be focused on us, expressing admiration or demanding it, praying a doxology or doing violence. We are always doing one or the other and it’s only by deflecting attention away from ourselves, which is what we do in essence when we give glory to God, that we save ourselves from egoism, jealousy, bitterness, greed, and violence.

Unless we are consistently praising somebody or something beyond ourselves, we will be consistently speaking words of jealousy, bitterness, and anger. That’s in fact our daily experience: We sit around talking with each other and, invariably, unless we’re praising someone, we’re “killing” someone. Gossip, slander, harsh judgement, vicious comment, are often both the tone and substance of our conversations and they’re the very antithesis of a doxology, of offering praise to God. Nothing sounds less like a doxology (“Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit”) than many of our everyday conversations.

The main reason our faith asks us to constantly render glory to God is that the more we praise the less we slander, gossip, or pass judgement. Offering praise to God, and others, is what saves us from bitterness and violence. That’s precisely why daily, hourly, we need to give glory to God, to pray a doxology. Only by focusing ourselves on the real centre of the universe can we displace ourselves from that centre.

When St. Paul begins his Epistles, he usually does so in a rapture of praise: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ from whose great mercy we all drink!” That isn’t a throwaway opening, it’s a key part of the main lesson: Only by praising something beyond ourselves do we save ourselves from bitterness.

“Glory be to the Father, the Son, and Holy Spirit”

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