St Dominic and praise


250px-The_Perugia_Altarpiece,_Side_Panel_Depicting_St._Dominic

Yesterday was the Feast of St Dominic, but I’m celebrating it today with the lay Dominican group that I visit in prison. Today I’m leading a retreat based on a book called Praying with Dominic, focusing on the themes of Praise, Mercy, and Love.

The author, Michael Monschau, suggests a number of different ways to pray with this theme of praise. One is to praise God for the gifts that surround us. This requires being attentive to the gifts that we have been given, which often we can take for granted or ignore.

Another suggestion Monschau makes is to praise God by reflecting on how past difficulties have also offered gifts. How has an unpleasant or painful event, despite the real evil in that event, helped you to grow? Have any gifts or graces come from that difficulty? What further good could come from praising God for the graces available as part of that difficulty?

What comes to mind for me as I re-read this: I’ve had two friends who died this past year of cancer, and though the losses have been real and painful, there were also many graces. For example, there were graces in community coming together. I also witnessed each of them in their own distinctive ways displaying great courage and generosity in the midst of suffering in a way that encouraged me to try to live better. It is helpful to look for and to name the graces in the midst of sorrow and difficulty.

Psalm 148 is a psalm of praise that begins:

“Praise the Lord.

Praise the Lord from the heavens, praise him in the heights above.

Praise him all his angels, praise him all his heavenly hosts.

Praise him, sun and moon, praise him, all you shining stars.

Praise him, you highest heavens, and you waters above the skies.”

I’m going to invite the men to compose and to add on their own lines of praise.

What would you add?

*image of St Dominic taken from wikimedia commons