Just what does it mean to “worship”? To “adore”, to “glorify”?
We immediately think we know. It’s what we do in church. We offer our prayers to God. We are “down here” and God is “up there”, so we “send up” our prayers, songs and praises hoping that He hears us and somehow this makes Him happy.
That’s got part of what worship is about, but unless we go deeper we miss the amazing gift worship becomes for us. You see we were made to worship and adore. It is our highest activity as a creature. Our purpose as human beings is to praise and worship God. It’s as if the bird turns to the human and says “Look, you’re the creature God made to know him and love him. He only made us to fly. Would you mind telling God for all us birds how much we love flying?” We speak for all creation.
There can be some disconnect at this point. We can too soon associate this worship with the feeling that God, like a beauty queen, somehow needs our praise to feel better about Himself or to love us more because of our sweet words to Him. That’s NOT what’s happening when we worship.
First of all, worship is a matter of acknowledging what is true. The liturgy has us pray, “It is right and just, our duty and our salvation, always and everywhere to give you glory.” In other words God is . . . God. The supreme and infinite and uncreated source of all that is. It is only right that we acknowledge that.
But, what comes next is almost as wonderful. Being in the act of worship we recognize our deepest potential as His creature. Again the Preface at mass says, “You have no need of our praise, but it is itself your gift to us. And makes us grow in holiness.”
Our reverent submission to the infinite knowledge of God opens the mystery of the created world. The countless galaxies, the sub-atomic universe, the human genome, the planet earth in the vacuum of space, reveal God’s effort-less brilliance and our privilege to share in a small part of that knowledge.
Our surrender to God’s moral law awakens within us our deepest beauty as participants in a life of love that is God’s very nature. Because of our union with Christ we become lovers as God Himself loves, and thereby we are united to the Divine.
Worship and adoration open us to the intentional beauty God has placed all around us: the vision of beauty that is the human being, the overwhelming power of a child’s smile, the glimpse of eternity that music can bring all have ultimate meaning because of God who is the source of all that is. Worship gives us the words “to give Him thanks”.
It was St. Ireneus who said, the “The Glory of God is Man fully alive.” In other words, when humans are living in a way that God has made us for (loving, surrendering to God’s way). We are giving Glory to God. This too is worship.
But, the Ireneus saying has a second part, “and Man fully alive is to see God.” This tells us of our final goal as human beings . . . to look on the face of God, to be filled with the Joy that is in the heart of Christ, and to see that joy in the faces of all who have loved in the course of their lives on earth.
In the end nothing satisfies the human heart but the Love of God. Till then we are restless until we rest in that unspeakable beauty.
Let’s go straight ahead.