Every now and then you may stumble across a note or an essay that turns out to have great value for your spiritual journey. This type of experience happened to me when I was reading a book by Patricia Treece which led me to a note written by Father Ralph Tichenor on the power of praising God, a power which he refers to as a “secret of great faith.”
In the book I was reading by Patricia Treece (who is an author of books on the saints), she mentions an encounter she had with a holy priest named Father Ralph Tichenor when she was still Protestant. Treece relates in her book that the holy priest’s face normally”beamed” with “love and goodwill,” but during the night in question, while he was giving a “simple talk,” she actually saw the priest “suffused by a yellowish-white light which streamed out to me. The light was warm and sweet. As this light touched me, I said to myself, ‘I’m being healed.’” She then relates the healing she received and “spiritual benefits as well” from this “luminous priest.” Interested to find out a little about Father Tichenor, who died in 1983, I searched the web and came across a rather amazing note written by the priest entitled, “The Secret of Great Faith,” which is an awesome note about the power of praising God.
In his note Father Tichenor writes: “Let me sum up. The secret of faith without doubt is praise continuous, great triumphant praise which becomes a way of life.” He says that “the Holy Spirit…is calling us to a life of praise.” He says that “through praise (and only praise of God) the whole world will be renewed.”
Father Tichenor tells us that “many Catholics underestimate the power of praise.” He further states that even Catholics who live “disciplined lives of prayer and intercession” find their faith “weak” and “uncertain” because the secret of great faith is to be “engaged in the praise of God.” From “the Scriptures,” he says, “we find that the entire universe…is seen as engaged in one great chorus of praise to the Creator.”
Father Tichenor adds that praise of God gives us power over evil because “Satan fears praise even more than prayer.” Satan “simply cannot operate in…a setting” where there is “joyful praise” and “reverence,” “adoration,” and “acceptable worship” of God. “So where there is great triumphant praise, Satan is overcome, confused and banished.”
Tichenor instructs us that “to be most effective, praise must be great, continuous, a fixed habit, a lifetime occupation, a vocation, a total way of life.” This means that we must learn to praise God not only when we are filled with joy “but always,” even when “things are painful, humiliating and even disastrous.”
Father Tichenor tells the story of a woman who came to him whose daughter was “on drugs, alcohol and involved in prostitution.” Father Tichenor instructed the woman to “give your daughter to Jesus” in faith and to praise and thank God for her daughter in all circumstances, no matter how dire and difficult. So the mother one night got on her knees and entrusted her daughter to God. As the mother’s attitude and behavior changed a healing occurred. Father Tichenor relates:
“This kept on for awhile and then there was a complete change in her daughter. The mother and daughter came to me about six months later, and the healing had been complete. I asked the daughter what had happened. She said the first night when her mother didn’t complain and wasn’t in tears startled her….And finally, since she was received at home with love, she wanted to know how her mother was able to do it. When she found out how, she wanted to have whatever her mother had. So they went to a prayer meeting. The daughter is now baptized in the Spirit and very active in the Renewal.”
To sum up, according to Father Tichenor the secret of great faith is praise continuous! “We must continue ceaselessly to live a life of praise to the Glory of God.” And as “one praises and worships, he is transformed step-by-step from glory-to-glory, into the image of the infinitely joyous God.”
Tom Mulcahy, M.A.
P.S. In All for Jesus, Chapter 8, Father Faber relays a number of methods used by the saints to praise God. It is a chapter well worth reading. The book by Patricia Treece is The Mystical Body, p. 37.
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