VI. THE EXCELLENCE OF THE VARIOUS PARTS OF THE ROSARY
(c) The Glory be to the Father
"Thou art worthy, O Lord our God, to receive glory, and honor, and power: because thou hast created all things."—Apoc. iv, II.
Dear Brethren, we know that the "Glory be to the Father" occurs very frequently in the prayers of the Church and in our private devotions. In the Rosary it is repeated with every decade. This prayer of praise is of great significance for the Christian life. In order to understand its meaning better we must join in spirit the choirs of the blessed before the throne of God. Isaias, the great prophet of the Old Testament, to whom was vouchsafed a profound insight into the mysteries of God, had a vision of heaven, and he says, "I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne high and elevated, and his train filled the temple; upon it stood the seraphims: . . . and they cried one to another, and said: Holy, holy, holy, the Lord God of hosts; all the earth is full of his glory" (Is. vi, I). So also did John, the beloved disciple of Jesus, have the grace to see heaven, and he saw the angels of heaven, and with them the whole army of the saints and all the nations, tribes and peoples, standing before the throne in sight of the Lamb, and with a loud voice they praised God, who sat upon the throne, and the Lamb, who is the Lamb of God (Apoc. vii, 11).
Thus God has made known to us, through both these prophets, in what the unceasing occupation of the blessed in heaven consists. They behold the magnificent beauty of God and praise Him on account of His majesty, power and love, and this occupation of the dwellers in heaven should also be the task of the dwellers upon earth. It is indeed the duty of mankind, and an indispensable obligation. King David acknowledged this when he said: "I will bless the Lord at all times, his praise shall be always in my mouth" (Ps. xxxiii).
Therefore, our whole life and endeavor should be one uninterrupted "Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost."
We will make this obligation the subject of our consideration.
I. The happy inhabitants of heaven as they behold God in His indescribable splendor extol Him with hymns of praise. To know God and to serve Him, to glorify Him, this is the supreme end of man, not only when he is admitted to heaven, but even here on earth. God himself tells us this through the Prophet Isaias. "In order," thus He speaks, "that man should glorify me, therefore have I created him and brought him forth from nothing."
We mortals as yet can not behold God as the blessed do in heaven; but we do behold Him in His works, and know Him from His revelation given us through the prophets, and through Jesus Christ, our Lord.
The works through which God has revealed Himself to us are creation, redemption and sanctification. Creation is a vast book which speaks to us unceasingly of God, and it is intelligible to all. If we contemplate the magnificence of the starlit sky we must exclaim with David: "The heavens show forth the glory of God, and the firmament declareth the work of his hands" (Ps. xvlii). Yet not only the heavens, but also the earth shows us, at every step, the omnipotence of God, His wisdom and love. Mountain and valley, forest and field, river and ocean, they all remind us of God, their creator. Every flower of field and meadow is a great masterpiece, which no mortal man could create.
The animal world presents still greater marvels for our consideration. The waters teeming with millions of animals of all kinds, from the smallest jellyfish to the ship-destroying monsters, the beasts of the forest, the birds of the air, they all are called into existence by God, and God has not merely called all these creatures into existence, but His providence preserves them, and not even a sparrow falls from the roof without His knowledge.
But we have not yet considered the masterpiece of creation: man, the creature with an immortal soul, created according to God's own image and likeness. In man body and soul are joined together in a wonderful unity, so that man presents in himself a combination of the spiritual and material.
Man is the masterpiece of creation, and all creation is for his service. "Thou hast made him a little less than the angels, thou hast crowned him with glory and honor; thou hast set him over the work of thy hands" (Ps. viii, 6).
In very truth we may say, therefore, the universe speaks to our mind and heart in powerful and impressive language. This language is its beauty, its appropriateness, its greatness.
But yet more plainly than creation does the redemption proclaim the glory of God. It is "not the immensity of the heavenly bodies," says St. Gregory, "not the brilliancy of the stars, not the adornment of the universe, not the preservation of the world, that point so much to the glory of the divine power and omnipotence, as does that divine condescension to the feebleness of nature."
Jesus Christ, the Son of God, descended from heaven and brought into the world a truer and fuller knowledge of God. The ancient people knew there was a God, but they knew Him not. The knowledge of the true God was drowned in paganism. Even among the Jews small had become the number of those who still possessed an undefiled knowledge of God. In the Old Testament there was only an intimation of the blessed Trinity, not a clear knowledge. Then Jesus Christ brought to us the knowledge of the Triune God. In Him the divine attributes of love, sanctity, justice, wisdom, omnipotence and mercy were presented to our minds so that we can comprehend them. He made known to us the merciful decrees which God had ordained for our temporal and eternal welfare. Through His bitter passion and death He reconciled us to the Father, and acquired for us the heirship of heaven. He founded the Church, the kingdom of God upon earth, and He rules it through the Holy Ghost, who proceeds from Him and the Father.
II. Jesus Christ, the Incarnate Son of God, who has brought to us the true knowledge of God, taught us also the true worship of God. After He had accomplished the work of the redemption and had founded the Church, He returned to heaven. Before this, however, He provided that He should also remain here upon earth. He instituted the most Holy Eucharist, the holy Sacrifice of the Mass, and thus remains in His Church until the end of time. Jesus, the Head of the Church, offers Himself to the Father unceasingly in the holy Sacrifice of the Mass. Thus the glorification of God takes place here upon earth as unceasingly as it does in heaven. The praise of God takes place here on earth, furthermore, through the' ecclesiastical hourly prayer, in which all the priests and religious of the Church unite throughout the world. The Church dedicates the Sunday exclusively to the praise and service of God. This day is to remind us of the creation accomplished by the Father, of the redemption accomplished by the Son, and of the sanctification accomplished by the Holy Ghost. On this day especially are the members of the Church invited to contemplate these great works of God, and praise and thank Him for the same.
We are exhorted to receive the holy Sacraments, and thus participate in the fruits of the redemption, sanctifying ourselves by a Christian life. A truly Christian life is the best and highest worship of God here below, as it makes us worthy to be associated with the heavenly choirs, there to continue eternally our praises in the blissful vision of God.
We see then how the Church admonishes us to make our whole lives and all our works an unending "Glory be to God." In order that this may be accomplished we must above all things be faithful children and living members of the Church, brethren of Jesus Christ.
We must diligently and devoutly obey the Commandments, and receive the Sacraments. The light of faith should lead us and hope should draw us heavenward, the love of God and of our neighbors must fill our hearts. He who possesses these virtues is indeed in possession of all other virtues. Love is the bond of perfection, for who so loves God and his neighbor has fulfilled the law. We should make a good intention the first thing in the morning, and renew it frequently throughout the day. This certainly is not difficult. St. Paul exhorts us urgently to make this good intention in the words: "Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatsoever else you do; do all things for the glory of God" (I Cor. x, 31)
To make this good intention, the "Glory be to the Father" is especially appropriate. If we utter the same frequently and devoutly we shall makes our lives a continual praising and glorifying of God, a perpetual prayer. Glory be to the Father, who has created us; to the Son, who has redeemed us; and to the Holy Ghost, who sanctifies us. Glory be to the Holy Trinity through all our thoughts, words and works, as glory was to God in the beginning, when He created heaven and earth, as now, and so too through all eternity in heaven. Yes, we will glorify God here below with the militant Church, so that we may be worthy to behold Him one day with the triumphant Church, and to praise Him in blissful rapture for all eternity! Amen.