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By Deacon Keith Fournier

1/30/2014 (1 year ago)

Catholic Online (

Well, you're able to shout when your team scores a goal, and you are not able to sing praises to the Lord? To come out of your shell, ever so slightly, to sing His praise?

But, Father! This is for the Renewal in the Spirit folks, not for all Christians!' No: prayer of praise is a Christian prayer, for all of us. In the Mass, every day, when we sing the Holy, Holy, Holy ... This is a prayer of praise: we praise God for his greatness, because He is great. We say beautiful things to Him, because we happy for His greatness


By Deacon Keith Fournier

Catholic Online (

1/30/2014 (1 year ago)

Published in Europe

Keywords: Praise, charismatic, charismatic renewal, pentecostal, catholic, prayer, worship, Pope Francis, Deacon Keith Fournier

VATICAN CITY (Catholic Online) - On Tuesday, January 28, 2014, Fr. Francis was assigned the task from the Incarnate Word, Jesus Christ, to break open the readings set forth by Holy Mother Church as food for the faithful at morning Mass.

Formerly known Also known as Fr. Jorge Mario Bergoglio, this good pastor has been doing this since he was ordained a priest in 1969. In fact, depending on how long he served as a Deacon before priestly ordination, he may have been given his first opportunity to preach back then.

Now, he is the successor of Peter, the Pope, and he continues to use the same approach to preaching daily homilies. They are not a time for deep instruction, but a time for simply breaking open the Word. He is a preacher who understands that the power is in the Word itself. 

Fr. Jorge took the name Francis when he said yes to the invitation to be the successor of the Fisherman named Peter, another simple and holy man. It is a sign that he sees his role to rebuild the Church in this hour, much like Francis of Assisi did in his own. And, like his namesake, he is an evangelical pope, one in love with the Evangel, the Good News, Jesus the Christ.

He is just a humble Catholic priest who understands that the written word can put those with living faith in touch with the Living Word, Jesus Christ. He also knows that the role of a good homilist- be he a Bishop, Priest, deacon or even Pope - is to break that word open as bread for the faithful and let the Lord do the rest.

Fr Francis obviously has a deep, intimate personal relationship with the Lord Jesus. He prays over the scriptures and speaks what the Holy Spirit calls him to share with Christ's faithful. His daily homily is often what some may call a fervorino, a spontaneous reflection. This is partly why many in the Catholic Press have had such a hard time reporting on them.They are not doctrinal, in the strictest sense of the word, they are evangelical.

He speaks extemporaneously, under inspiration. The word inspiration means, at root, filled with the Holy Spirit. This manner of preaching has led some identified with one of the literally dozens of what the Church now calls ecclesial movements - the one which is called charismatic renewal-  to claim the Pope is somehow a "charismatic".

The claim is meant as a form of affirmation of the Pope. However, it seems to me to fail to see the bigness of the work of the Holy Spirit in all of the ecclesial movements - and in the whole Church.

I remember an experience which happened to me many years ago when I attended one of the last of the large conferences sponsored by the charismatic renewal at Notre Dame University in which I participated.

Before the event began, a wonderful deacon who has long since gone home to the Lord, shared with me his concern that the celebrant of the opening Mass, a visiting Cardinal from Rome, might not know that the Mass was, in this deacons words "a charismatic Mass". I assured him that this Cardinal was a very holy man and that his concern was misplaced.

I overheard a conversation between the deacon and that holy Cardinal on that day which was instructive. It came to my mind today after a sincere leader of the movement called the charismatic renewal mailed to a list, of which I am a member, the summary of the homily of Pope Francis given on Tuesday.

I had already read the homily on the Vatican Radio site.I try to read these summaries of his homilies daily. You can read them by going here.  The leader claimed in the introductory remarks to his E Mail that the homily showed that the pope was "a charismatic".

Even after all these years, that effort by some to claim people as "charismatic" is difficult for me to read or hear. The Pope is simply a Catholic in love with the Lord and filled with the Holy Spirit. He calls us all to what should be the normative Christian life. We are all supposed to have an intimate prayer life and experience the power of the Holy Spirit in our daily lives.

I vividly remember an experience at that conference which communicates my concern even all these years later. While setting the altar up with the Cardinal before the Mass began at that major conference at Notre Dame, I overheard the Deacon say to the Cardinal, "Your Eminence, I was not sure whether you knew, this is a Charismatic Mass."

The Cardinal, without missing a beat, with a broad and understanding smile to a spiritual son, said "Deacon, EVERY Mass is Charismatic." Of course, the Cardinal was correct. Every Holy Mass is filled with the Holy Spirit. It brings heaven to earth. 

The words of that Cardinal played a significant role in my own continued journey of faith. It opened up for me an appreciation of the beauty of the whole Catholic Church; an experience which has continued over all of the years which followed in my service to the Church. It led me to plumb the beauty of the entirety of the Church in further theological study and, by God's grace, pulled me to ordination as a Deacon, in, with, and for, the whole Church.

The Cardinals words should apply to all homilies as well, if the homilist proerly prepares. That preparation MUST be rooted in prayer. In the Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation, Dei Verbum (The Word of God), issued by the Fathers  of the Second Vatican Council, we find these words,

In the sacred books, the Father who is in heaven meets His children with great love and speaks with them; and the force and power in the word of God is so great that it stands as the support and energy of the Church, the strength of faith for her sons, the food of the soul, the pure and everlasting source of spiritual life.

The Church has always venerated the divine Scriptures just as she venerates the body of the Lord, since, especially in the sacred liturgy, she unceasingly receives and offers to the faithful the bread of life from the table both of God's word and of Christ's body.
(Paragraph 21)

The readings of the Liturgy on Tuesday opened up the opportunity for Fr Francis to call the faithful gathered at the Chapel of St Martha to grow in their understanding of what it means to offer the prayer of praise to the Lord. He did so with his characteristically blunt, simple and pastoral manner. They call everyone of us to do the same. Below, I offer the summary of the homily from Vatican Radio:

Pope Francis celebrated Mass on Tuesday morning in the Vatican's Casa Santa Marta residence. Following the readings of the day, the Holy Father spoke about the proper attitude of the Christian at prayer.

Reflecting on the episode from the Second Book of Samuel, which was read at Mass, in which "David danced with all his might before the Lord," Pope Francis recalled that the whole people of Israel were celebrating because the Ark of the Covenant was returning home. He went on to say that David's prayer of praise, "led him to move beyond all composure," adding, "this was precisely a prayer of praise."

Explaining that the passage caused his thoughts to turn to Sarah, Abraham's wife, who, after giving birth to her son, Isaac, said, "The Lord made me dance with joy." He said that it is easy to understand a prayer of petition - asking something of the Lord - and prayer of thanksgiving, as well.

Even prayer of adoration, he said, "is not so difficult," to understand. Prayer of praise, however, "We leave aside - it does not come to us so easily [Italian - Non ci viene cosě spontanea].":

"'But, Father! This is for the Renewal in the Spirit folks, not for all Christians!' No: prayer of praise is a Christian prayer, for all of us. In the Mass, every day, when we sing the Holy, Holy, Holy ... This is a prayer of praise: we praise God for his greatness, because He is great. We say beautiful things to Him, because we happy for His greatness [Italian. perché ci piace che sia cosě].
'But, Father! I am not able - I have to- ...'

Well, you're able to shout when your team scores a goal, and you are not able to sing praises to the Lord? To come out of your shell, ever so slightly, to sing His praise? Praising God is completely gratis. In it we do not ask Him to give us anything: we do not express gratitude for anything He has given; we praise Him!"

We need to pray "whole-heartedly," he said. "It is also an act of justice, because He is great! He is our God." David, Pope Francis went on to observe, "was so happy, because the ark was returning, the Lord was returning: his body, too, prayed with that dance.":

"Here is a good question for us to pose to ourselves today: 'But how am I doing vis ŕ vis prayer of praise? Do I know how to praise the Lord? Do I know how to praise the Lord when I pray the Gloria or the Sanctus? Is my whole heart really in it, or do I merely mouth [the words]. What does David dancing here say to me, and Sarah, dancing for joy? When David enters the city there begins another thing: a party!"

"The joy of praise," said Pope Francis, "leads us to the joy of the feast - the feast of the family." The Pope went on to recall how, when David returned to the palace, Michal, the daughter of King Saul, scolded him and asked him if he did not feel ashamed for having danced like that in front of everyone, he, who is the king. Michal "despised David":

"I wonder sometimes how many times we despise good people in our hearts, good people who praise the Lord as it comes to them, so spontaneously, because they are not cultured, because they do not follow the formalities? [I mean really] despise [them]? The Bible says that, because of this, Michal remained sterile for the rest of her life.

What does the Word of God mean, here? [It means] that joy, that the prayer of praise makes us fruitful! Sarah danced in the great moment of her fecundity - at the age of ninety! The fruitfulness that praise of the Lord gives us, the gratuity of praising the Lord: that man or that woman who praises the Lord, who prays praising the Lord, who, when praying the Gloria is filled with joy at doing so, and who, when singing the Sanctus in the Mass rejoices in singing it, is a fruitful person."

On the other hand, warned Pope Francis, "Those, who are closed in the formality of a prayer that is cold, stingy [Italian. misurata], might end up as Michal, in the sterility of her formality."
The Pope asked, then, [that we] imagine David dancing, "with all his might before the Lord," and that, "we think how beautiful it is to make the prayer of praise."

It will do us all good, he said, to repeat the words of Psalm 23, which we prayed today: "Lift up your gates, O ye princes, and be ye lifted up, O eternal gates: and the King of Glory shall enter in. Who is this King of Glory? The Lord of hosts, He is the King of Glory."


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