Husband & Wife Articles


 

New Year’s Resolution

Give fitting praise to God with word and work

By Kimberly Quatela

(Last of a Five-Part Series)

As we continue our Christmas celebrations and prepare for the New Year, it is time to close out this December series of reflections on Col 3:12-17. This time we consider the virtue of praise, which is quite fitting for this Christmas season as we praise Almighty God for the gift of his presence in a humble child.

But what is praise anyways? If you’re looking for a New Year’s resolution, maybe you could try to improve the virtue of praise in your life in 2016!

The Catechism of the Catholic Church tells us, “Praise is the form of prayer which recognizes most immediately that God is God. It lauds God for his own sake and gives him glory, quite beyond what he does, but simply because he is” (2639).  Two points strike me: Praise is prayer and praise is directed at God and not ourselves.

Given our cultural habits, we might think that praise is what you give to someone for doing something good. We often “praise” our oldest son for sharing his blocks with his brother or following directions the first time they are given. I “praise” my husband for the amazing job he did organizing and decorating the house. I seek “praise” for the meal I prepared after a long day of work. These may be good examples of praise in human terms, but when it comes to God we need to raise our sights.

Pope Francis has used the analogy of breathing to describe what praise means in our lives:

“Praise is the ‘breath’ which gives us life, because it is intimacy with God, an intimacy that grows through daily praise. … Breathing is made up of two stages: inhaling, the intake of air, and exhaling, the letting out of air. The spiritual life is fed, nourished, by prayer and is expressed outwardly through mission: inhaling and exhaling. When we inhale, by prayer, we receive the fresh air of the Holy Spirit. When exhaling this air, we announce Jesus Christ risen by the same Spirit. No one can live without breathing. It is the same for the Christian: without praise and mission there is not Christian life. And with praise, worship. We rarely speak about worship. What do we do when we pray? We ask things of God, we give thanks. … But worshipping and adoring God is part of breathing — praise and worship” (Address to Catholic Fraternity of the Charismatic Covenant Communities and Fellowship, Oct. 31, 2014).

As Pope Francis says, praise of God is what nourishes our spiritual life, and through a nourished spiritual life of praise, we then can move to mission. We are given a mission by God through our vocation. My mission through my vocation of marriage and family life is to live the Catholic faith and pass on the faith to those around me, namely my husband and my children, and those I encounter in my daily work. It sounds easy. But how many of us struggle with this daily mission?

As a flawed mother and wife, too often my eyes get turned to myself, my needs, my wants, my struggles – and less on reflecting on and praising the good and gracious God. As I focus on myself, and most of the time, begin to wallow in self pity, I start to seek and crave praise – praise for cleaning the kitchen, praise for making my husband’s coffee, praise for making dinner when exhausted. I am seeking praise where praise is not due. I am seeking praise, especially during times when I have let my prayer life slide and have neglected time with Our Lord.

Instead of praising the Lord for the mere fact that he is our Lord and Savior, I boo-hoo over the fact that no one has noticed that the kitchen floor was swept.

It is at these times when we are asked to step back and turn our eyes to the One who loves us, and know that his love is all we seek, that his love fulfills the needs and desires of our hearts, because he created us with those needs and desires. It is through this relationship with God that I am sustained, supported, nourished, loved, and filled with the grace to continue in my mission to love at home and at work. How can we love ourselves and others if we don’t first come and be nourished by the Lord’s love for us? We can experience that love most fully when we praise God simply for the fact that he exists, and we exist because of him.

Before becoming Pope John Paul II, and a saint, Karol Wojtyla said, “One must arrange one’s life so that everything praises God.”

Let us each look at our lives this week and see how we can increase our praise of God through the way we arrange our lives in the New Year. Merry Christmas and a happy 2016 to you and your family!

Kimberly Quatela lives in Yonkers, New York, with her husband, Steve, and their two children. She is Family Faith Formation Coordinator for the Diocese of Bridgeport, Connecticut.