The Book of Psalms, known in Hebrew as the Book of Praises, concludes with a final call to praise. Its 150th Psalm begins with Alleluia, Praise the Lord. It ends with Alleluia. In its six verses the word praise occurs eleven times. If there is any question as to what the 149 preceding psalms are about, Psalm 150 gives the unequivocal assurance — the praise of God!

Psalm 150 answers all the questions we may have concerning the "mechanics" of praise. Whom do we praise? God! Where do we praise Him? In His holy place and in His mighty heavens. Why do we praise Him? For what He does: His mighty deeds. And, even more, for what He is: His surpassing greatness. How do we praise Him? With sound of trumpet, with lute and harp, timbrel and dance, strings andpipes, and resounding cymbals. Who should praise Him? Everything that lives and breathes.

Even for the Incarnate Word, praise of God was always in season. The evangelists note several occasions during His earthly life when Jesus offered public praise to His Father. But, as Blessed Columba Marmion notes, this worship rendered by Jesus to His Father continues more living, more entire than ever [after the Resurrection and Ascension]. The life (and also, the prayer) of the Risen Christ becomes an infinite source of glory for His Father; there is no longer any weakness in Him; all is light, strength, beauty, life; all in Him sings an uninterrupted canticle of praise. (CHRIST IN HIS MYSTERIES)

This is the reason why St. Francis of Assisi was such a "praise saint." Having entered so fully into the life, mission and mystery of Christ Jesus, the Little Poor Man found in His Lord the inexhaustible Source for the true praise of God. Francis exemplified that spiritual truth which St. Clare pointed out to St. Agnes of Prague: If we suffer with [Christ], we shall rejoice with Him. And from that joy springs praise — pure, ardent, all-embracing and overflowing. Is it any wonder then that St. Francis went about inviting everything that lives and that breathes to praise the Lord with him?

St. Francis quotes directly from Psalm 150 only once. But the Seraphic Father embodies the spirit of Psalm 150, a spirit of all-embracing praise of God. He praised God in joy, in health, on sunny days, in promising circumstances, when life was good and God seemed close. But St. Francis also shows us how it is possible to praise God on the hard and the stormy days, in pain and suffering, anguish and illness, disappointment and discouragement, when life is almost unbearable and God seems distant.

Praise of God is the first word of true Christian prayer. And it is also the last word — the finest, final word we can offer to the One in whom we live, move and have our being. Whether our praise rises to Him like a melodious harp or a clashing cymbal, united to the risen Christ in His ceaseless praise of the Father, we do well always and everywhere to give praise to the Lord. Alleluia!




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Psalm 150

 

 

 Alleluia!

Praise God in His holy place,

praise Him and His mighty heavens.

Praise Him for His powerful deeds,

praise His surpassing greatness.

Praise Him with the sound of the trumpet,

praise Him with lute and harp.


Praise Him with timbrel and dance,


praise Him with strings and pipes.


O praise Him with resounding cymbals,


praise Him with clashing of cymbals.


Let everything that lives


and that breaths


give praise to the Lord.

Alleluia!

 

The Last Word

PART 37