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When I first came across this quote I thought it was overstated and simplistic, but the longer I think about it the more I think Ron Rolheiser is gesturing toward an important truth here.  From “The Power of Praying a Doxology” in Northern Lights:

Spiritual writers have always told us that we are either growing or regressing, never neutral.  This means that we are either praising someone or demanding we be praised, offering gratitude or muttering in bitterness, blessing or cursing, turning attention away from ourselves or demanding it be focused on us, expressing admiration or demanding it, praying a doxology or doing violence.  We are always doing one or the other and it’s only by deflecting attention away from ourselves, which is what we do in essence when we give glory to God, that we save ourselves from egoism, jealousy, bitterness, greed, and violence…

The main reason our faith asks us to constantly render glory to God is that the more we praise the less we slander, gossip, or pass judgment.  Offering praise to God, and others, is what saves us from bitterness and violence.

3 Comments Post a comment
  1. Paul Johnston #

    Father Rohlheiser is an important voice. His weekly columns, available in the GTA, through the Catholic Register, speak simply and intelligently to the depth and intimacy of a personal faith with Jesus Christ as mediated by the corperate institution of the Catholic Church.

    His work causes some concern, at least as I hear it, within more traditional circles. Concerns that his emphasis on the personal at times conflicts with a right understanding of canon/orthadoxy. Non the less I find his methods to be brilliant. He has the great gift of being able to take that which is spiritually and psychologically complex and break it down into simple terms without compromising too much the nuance and texture of the ideas he engages with. For the most part, I think he has a great sense of the essentials and a very humane and easy to follow method of deconstruction.

    With regard to your framing of his point, I disagree with Father Rohlheiser’s valuation. I don’t think the “main” reason for rendering praise and glory unto God are either the communal outcomes, or the fact that by engaging in that which is good we have less time opportunity for that which isn’t. While both outcomes are good, and likely, they miss the point of the primary reason for praise.

    Love for love’s sake. Praising God because it is right and just. Praising God because your heart has no other recourse. Praising God, not because you should (though you should) but rather because you can’t help but do otherwise.

    To the heart that loves God freely, fully, honestly and openly all, ALL right outcomes occur.

    October 28, 2009
  2. Mdaele #

    Ryan, give me a view into how/why this quote evokes truth for you…

    October 28, 2009
    • I suppose I zero in on this phrase: “offering gratitude or muttering in bitterness.” For me, it is very easy to look at the world and become bitter. My natural inclination is to focus on the pain and suffering of the world or the sin and weakness in my own life, and this is a path that can lead (and has led, at various points) to bitterness, selfishness, jealousy, etc. The idea that I can (and must) choose the posture I take towards the world (and that I have the freedom to make this choice), along with the idea that the choice I make plays a role in shaping my experience of the world are some of the things that strike me about this quote.

      October 29, 2009

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