Before the fall of humanity and the lapse of nature, creation expressed the perfect and ordered will of God. Everything was good, and everything together was beautiful in its own way. We still experience moments of this original perfection that call forth praise and exaltation. In the words of the Psalmist, “When I consider your heavens, and the work or your fingers, the moon and the stars you have set in their courses, what is man that you should be mindful of him? The son of man that you should seek him out? You have made him but little lower than the angels; you adorn him with glory and honor. You give him mastery over the works of your hands; you put all things under his feet: all sheep and oxen, even the wild beasts of the field, the birds of the air, the fish of the sea, and whatsoever walks upon the sea” (Ps. 8:4-9). The whole creation explodes with life and praise.
Consider the Te Deum as an example of such praise. Set aside, for a moment, the scholarly opinion that it was composed by Niceta, Bishop of Remesiana in Dacia (c. 393-414). Instead, give license to the medieval legend that St. Ambrose and St. Augustine spontaneously composed this hymn immediately after Augustine’s baptism. On the same day, Augustine and his son, Adeodatus, and Augustine’s dear friend, Alypius, received the sacrament of baptism from Ambrose, Bishop of Milan. The intensity of emotion around this event is suggested by Augustine’s immediate impression of the church’s music.
Baptized into the church, he indeed heard, for the first time, the church singing. “How greatly did I weep in your hymns and canticles, deeply moved by the voices of your sweet-speaking church! The voices flowed into my ears, and the truth was poured forth into my heart, whence the agitation of my piety overflowed, and my tears ran over, and blessed was I therein” (Confessions IX.vi). With such emotion, we imagine Augustine, together with Ambrose, breaking form in song: We praise thee, O God; we acknowledge thee to be the Lord. To their voices, they add the voices of heaven and earth and the holy church: the earth, angels, heavens and all powers therein, cherubim and seraphim, the glorious company of apostles, the noble army of martyrs, the holy church. Such praise reaches out to its rightful object, addressing God by name. “O Lord our Governor, how exalted is your Name in all the world!” (Ps. 8:1). “Glory to you for the radiance of your holy name.” The name of God is mysteriously the very being of God: I AM. We praise the God who is and who creates.
We are, however, like Augustine, stirred from within, moved by the Holy Spirit who brings to remembrance all that Jesus taught and did, a Spirit that speaks to our spirit revealing that we are sons and daughters of God, united by adoption and grace to the eternal Son of the Father. And so, we are bold to call God “Our Father.” Athanasius says, “When the Spirit dwells in us, the Word who bestows the Spirit is in us too, and the Father is present in the Word” (Letter to Serapion).
Take a breath. Think and feel. Have you ever heard of love? Begetting love, begotten love, shared love? Love that is above all things, through all things, in all things? This love is in you. It invites you to praise the one and equal glory of the Trinity, one being in three divine persons.
Look It Up: Read Matthew 28:19.
Think About It: God is not an explanation. God is love, and God loves what God has made.