To Praise, Reverence and Serve God: Reflections from a Trappist Monastery
Ignatius writes that “Man’s purpose is to praise reverence and serve God and by this means save his soul.”
A quaint little “secret” that the Trappists have found is that they have centered their lives around one of the most pleasant gifts available to the Christian. That is, in the psalms, it feels wonderful to praise God. Now I don’t mean this in a pious or “cheesy” way. I mean, just like Ignatius says so directly, that we are made to praise God.
That is, we fit like a “lock and key” into the prayer of the psalmist as he cries to God, searches for God, and ultimately praises God for what the Lord has done.
At a deeper level, the psalms satisfy the soul in a far richer way. They help the soul to see its proper place in the world.
We all have a problem with pride. We all have that secret desire to be praised and honoured and kept in the first place. In the same way, we are like Adam and Eve who wanted to be like God.
Praise however disrupts and challenges all these movements. In an immediate way, we acknowledge the true order of the world: that God is God, and we are not.
And what’s most odd is that this ordering feels right. That is, our natures give evidence to the way we are made. As Ignatius observes, we were made to praise, reverence, and serve God. No wonder then that our soul feels such delight when it genuinely does so.
Perhaps we all could take a moment today to pause, and praise God with a genuine heart. When you do so, perhaps pause for a moment, and notice within yourself, how things have been set aright.