In our daily life we find it very difficult to praise God in every circumstance. Why is this?
One of the reasons is because we cannot see the hand of God or the will of God in that particular situation. We fail to see the spiritual side of things. We tend to walk by sight and not by faith.
In short, we fail to think how God and His saints would think.
What do we currently fill our minds with?
Media, social media, anxiety, worry, obsession with a particular person or thing, impurity, idle thinking…etc
Are these concretely leading us to praise God? Can we praise God if we are still at the centre of our own worlds?
our speech discloses the cultivation of our minds
– Sirach 27:6
How can we use our minds to praise God?
- Filtering out all that is sinful.
- And positively, by filling our mind with all that is holy.
St. Paul says we should set our minds on things that are above and that we should be renewed in our minds
Can we look to our Mother as a model to guide us to use our thoughts in the process of praising God? Yes!
The Scriptures often portray Mother Mary as someone who treasured and pondered upon the words and works of God in her heart. Using her thoughts to ponder on who God is, she could believe and trust in his different attributes and
praise Him in all circumstances. Meditating on the words of God spoken in the Scriptures helped Mother Mary praise even in moments of trial. When Mother Mary was with the child Jesus in her womb and Elizabeth greets her, mother
Mary bursts into a song of praise(Magnificat).
Was it easy for mother Mary to do so?
According to the custom of that time, if a woman was found to be with a child outside of marriage, she would be stoned to death. Who would believe Mary if she said, “I have conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit”. She would have been further condemned for blasphemy. Yet instead of responding with words of fear and doubt, Mother Mary praises God for being her Savior, for doing mighty things, for His mercy etc…
How did Mother Mary reach this stage of trust and surrender? It was because of her relationship with God. Praising God stems from our personal relationship with God. Through her quiet moments in prayer, meditating on the Scriptures, Mother Mary knew her God to be a God who Saves, a God who does mighty things. The Magnificat closely resembles Hannahs hymn of praise found in the Old Testament 1 Sam. 2:1-10. This shows that she indeed found God’s attributes in the Scriptures.
So what are some concrete steps we can take to use our mind like Mother Mary and the Saints?
- Scripture Meditation (4 C’s: Spiritual Guide book*)
Some of us may ask why we need to meditate over Scripture. Pondering over the Word gets us to a deeper understanding of who God is.
For example, How do we get to know a person?
- We can read about him/her, ask someone to tell us what they know about him/her etc.
- But on a deeper level we get to know a person through spending time with them, through what they tell us about themselves : through a relationship.
We praise God for who He is. We cannot praise a God who we do not know. Would it be easy to praise a God who we fear, think is evil, or unreliable? No! So, how do we get to know who God truly is? One of the most powerful places we can turn to is the Bible. Pondering on the Scriptures will help us break away from our misconceptions of God, and deepen our relationship with Him.
- We can read about what God tells us about Himself through the Scriptures.
- But this might become only knowledge if our Scripture reading is not accompanied by a spirit of prayer. I.e we must make Scripture reading a time of talking to God and hearing God speak(through prayerful reflection on the Scriptures): a relationship.
- In this way we will learn who God is, i.e His attributes in a personal way.
- This is one way we can make use of our mind to Praise God.
Savio is a boy in the 11th standard. He scores well in his exams, is loved by his teachers etc. and academically everything lines up well for him. However, one thing deeply hurts him: the comments and the fun poked at him due to his short stature. His social life is in a mess. At times he has resorted to using bad language to retort to the comments. Due to all the pain and rejection he has endured he has begun to develop a distorted image of God. He questions if his God is truly a good God. Truly a Creator.
In this situation, he finds it impossible to praise God for being his Creator.
During a particular conversation he is advised by a friend to reflect on Psalm 139 and speak to God about all the pain he endures.
Savio spends some time meditating on Psalm 139. As he meditates on this he enteres deeply into the texts and then talks to God about his rejection. During his prayer he suddenly finds a lot of peace reading the words,
“I have knit you in your mothers womb.” (Psalm 139:13)
He returns to the same passage the next day at prayer. Again as he meditates on the Scriptures, the words of the psalm reassure him that God has indeed created him
“fearful and wonderful”.(Psalm 139:14)
During his prayer, certain moments of his life are brought to mind. A friend praising him for his talents, another thanking him for a good deed done. He begins to see all the good all the uniqueness in himself. He sees how God has always been there for him. Psalm 139 begins to become a reality in his life. Similarly, as he meditates, he realizes that beyond his physical appearance, God looks upon his heart. The love of God fills him and the reality of God as a Creator, as a Father become real to him.
Through these days of prayer an unlearning has taken place. Savio is now able to say with conviction that God indeed is his Creator.
He is now able to take this vision, this reality, this attribute of God into his daily life. He is able to still give praise to God when confronted with a bad remark. There is now a visible change in his behaviour. Rather than filling his mind with the comments of his friends and getting back to using foul language, he fills his mind with
the attributes of God (God being his Creator) found in the Scriptures and praises God continually.
*4C’s: Concentrate, Consider Converse, Commit: These 4 steps can help give a structure to our prayer. Formed by Fr. John Bartunek LC. Detailed explanation in the Spiritual guide book.
- Spiritual Reading and memorising Scriptures.
If we spend time memorising Scriptures and reading spiritual writings, these will be fresh in our mind. When faced with situations in our life we will be able to fall back on Scripture and act accordingly.
Or we might recall a similar incident in the life of a saint, and remember how the saint reacted. This will help us to form as well as change our thought pattern.
Our thoughts will become like those of God and His saints. We will begin to praise God in all circumstances. Manifestation of His mercy, correction, power, providence (His attributes) will become a part of our daily lives.