Shortest but most potent prayer

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Let us acclaim our experience of God’s goodness, so generously shared.
What can God do in your life with one Bible verse a day?

One of the shortest but most potent prayers we can pray is the traditional “Glory be:”

Glory be to the Father,
and to the Son,
and to the Holy Spirit,
as it was in the beginning,
is now and ever shall be,
world without end. Amen

What are we doing when we pray that prayer? The Catechism tells us that the glory of God consists in the realization of the manifestation and communication of God’s goodness (see CCC 294). When we pray Glory be, we are acclaiming our experience of God’s goodness so generously shared. Cardinal Raneiro Cantalamessa points out that God’s glory is nothing other than that of loving people gratuitously. At the same time, he reminds us that “the basic sin is the refusal to glorify God. By refusing to glorify God, the human being becomes deprived of the glory of God.” So we want to pray Glory be fervently and frequently.

In praying Glory be to the Father, we are glorifying God for loving us into existence. We glorify the Father when we acknowledge that the Father knows the worst about us, but that he uses that knowledge to love us even more, because we need him to love us more as his children. To glorify the Father is to praise the Father’s refusal to become fatalistic about our failures. To glorify the Father is to proclaim that we are loved simply because we are His. Fr. Francis Martin wrote that “glory is the love that is expressed when Jesus gives himself in total obedience to the Father’s will.” To pray Glory be to the Father is to ask to be granted the grace to give ourselves, like Jesus, to the Father in total obedience to his will.

By Glory be to the Son we mean, as the Byzantine liturgy sings, “Glory be to the active presence of your providence in our lives, O Christ our King: through it, you have wrought salvation for all.” Bishop Massimo Camisasca notes that “we glorify God by allowing ourselves to be drawn into the act of love that was accomplished on the cross.” As St. Ambrose declares: “I will not glory because I have been redeemed. I will not glory because I am free of sins, but because sins have been forgiven me. I will not glory because I am profitable or because anyone is profitable to me, but because Christ is an advocate on my behalf with the Father, because the blood of Christ has been poured out on my behalf.” We glorify the Son of God’s friendship with us! We glorify the Son’s never-failing Real Presence!

And by Glorybe to the Holy Spirit we are begging the Third Person of the Holy Trinity to come into our heart and take possession of our very being. For we are aware how inclined we can be not to be spiritual — instead, we are often fleshly, worldly, venal, materialistic … self-absorbed instead of other-directed. What glorifies God is going to him in the knowledge of our inability, our unworthiness, our powerlessness, our actual sin. When we give ourselves to God in those moments we glorify him the most because then we depend on him for everything without any delusion about our own “goodness.” We glorify God through our realization of our dependence on God for everything. We beg for continual transformation.

We pray with the 8th-century monk John the Elder: “May wonder at your glory captivate me continually.”


Follow Fr. Cameron’s series on prayer here.

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