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Daniel 3

Canticle - Let every creature praise the Lord
The Creator is blessed for ever (Rom 1, 25)

vv 52-57

You are blest, Lord God of our fathers.
  To you glory and praise for evermore.

Blest your glorious holy name.
  To you glory and praise for evermore.

You are blest in the temple of your glory.
  To you glory and praise for evermore.

You are blest who gaze into the depths.
  To you glory and praise for evermore.

You are blest in the firmament of heaven.
  To you glory and praise for evermore.

You who walk on the wings of the wind.
  To you glory and praise for evermore.

May they bless you, the saints and the angels.
  To you glory and praise for evermore.

From the heavens, the earth and the sea.
  To you glory and praise for evermore.

You are blest, Lord God of our fathers.
  To you glory and praise for evermore.

Catechesis by Pope St John Paul II on Canticle Daniel 3, 52-57
General Audience, Wednesday 12 December 2001 - also in French, German, Italian, Portuguese & Spanish

Lauds, Sunday, Week 2 - Every creature praises the Lord

"1. The canticle we have just heard is the first part of a long and beautiful hymn that is found in the Greek version of the Book of Daniel. It is sung by three young Hebrew men who were thrown into the furnace for refusing to worship the statue of the Babylonian King Nabuchodonosor. Another part of the same hymn is found in the Liturgy of the Hours for Sunday Lauds in the first and third weeks of the liturgical psalter.

As is known, the Book of Daniel reflects the ferments, hopes and apocalyptic expectations of the Chosen People, who in the era of the Maccabeans (2nd century B.C.) were struggling to live according to the Law given by God.

From the furnace, the three young men, miraculously preserved from the flames, sing a hymn of praise addressed to God. The hymn is like a litany, at once repetitive in the form of the verses and new with each verse: the invocations rise to God like billowing incense that glides through the air in similar but unique clouds. Prayer does not eschew repetition, just as the lover, who wants to express his love repeats his love over and over again. To emphasize the same things conveys the intensity and multiple nuances of one's interior feelings and affections.

2. We heard the beginning of the cosmic hymn of the third chapter of Daniel, in verses 52-57. It is the introduction that precedes the grandiose parade of the creatures engaged in the work of praise. An overall view of the entire canticle, as an extended litany, makes us discover a succession of components that make up the theme of the hymn. It begins with six invocations spoken directly to God; they contain a universal appeal to "all you works of the Lord" to open their lips so ideal for praising God (cf. verse 57).

This is the part that we consider today and that the Liturgy proposes for Lauds of Sunday of the second week. Later on, the canticle will be prolonged by summoning all the creatures of heaven and earth to praise and magnify their Lord.

3. Our initial passage will be taken up again by the Liturgy at Lauds of the Sunday of the fourth week. We will now choose only a few elements for our reflection. The first is the invitation to blessing: "Blessed are you..." that at the end will become "Bless the Lord...!".

In the Bible there are two forms of blessing, which are intertwined. There is, first of all, the blessing that comes down from God: the Lord blesses his people (cf. Nm 6,24-27). It is an effective blessing, source of fruitfulness, happiness and prosperity. Then there is the blessing that earth lifts towards heaven. The human person who receives so many blessings from the divine generosity, blesses God, praising, thanking and exalting him: "Bless the Lord, my soul!" (Ps 102 [103],1;103 [104],1).

Divine blessing is often mediated by priests (cf. Num 6,22-23.27; Sir 50,20-21) through the imposition of hands; human blessing is instead expressed in the liturgical hymn that rises to the Lord from the assembly of the faithful.

4. The antiphon is another element we should consider in the passage that we are reflecting on. We can imagine the soloist, in the crowded temple, intoning the blessing: "Blessed are you, Lord...", recounting God's wonderful deeds while the congregation of the faithful continuously repeats the formula: "praiseworthy and glorious above all forever". It is what happened with Psalm 135 [136], the "great Hallel", the great praise, where the people repeat "His mercy endures forever", while a soloist enumerated the various acts of salvation that the Lord wrought in favour of his people.

In our Psalm, the object of praise is above all the "glorious and holy" name of God, whose proclamation resounds in the temple, which is also "holy and glorious". When they contemplate in faith God who is seated on "the throne of his kingdom" the priests and the people are conscious of being the object of his gaze which "penetrates the abysses" and this awareness calls forth from their hearts the praise: "Blessed ... blessed ...". God, who "sits upon the cherubim" and has for his dwelling the "firmament of the heavens", is also close to his people who, for this reason, feel protected and safe.

5. When proposing this canticle afresh for use on Sunday morning, the weekly Easter of Christians, the Church is inviting us to open our eyes to the new creation which has its beginning with the resurrection of Jesus. Gregory of Nyssa, a fourth century Greek Father of the Church, explains that with the Passover [Easter] of the Lord a "new heavens and new earth are created ... a different, renewed man comes into being in the image of his Creator by means of the birth from on high" (cf. Jn 3,3-7). And he continues: "As the one who looks toward the sensible world deduces from visible things the invisible beauty ... so the one who looks toward this new world of the ecclesial creation sees in it him who became everything in everyone, leading the mind by the hand, by means of the things that are understandable for our rational nature, toward that which goes beyond human comprehension" (Langerbeck H., Gregorii Nysseni Opera, VI, 1-22 passim, p. 385).

Thus in singing this canticle, the Christian believer is invited to contemplate the world of the first creation, intuiting the outline of the second, inaugurated with the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And this contemplation leads all by the hand to enter into the one Church of Christ almost dancing with joy."


"I am pleased to welcome the participants in the Conference on "International Bilateral Legal Relations between the Holy See and the States" being held under the auspices of the Slovak Foreign Ministry, the Slovak Embassy to the Holy See and the Pontifical Oriental Institute. Upon all the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors present at today’s Audience I cordially invoke the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ.

J’accueille avec joie les pèlerins de langue française. Que ce temps de l’Avent, pendant lequel chacun est invité à prier et à jeûner pour la paix entre les peuples, renouvelle votre foi et vous prépare à accueillir le Prince de la paix ! À tous, j’accorde bien volontiers la Bénédiction apostolique.

Herzlich begrüße ich alle Pilger und Besucher aus den Ländern deutscher Sprache. Besonders heiße ich die Schwestern aus dem Kloster der heiligen Crescentia in Kaufbeuren willkommen. Gerne erteile ich euch allen und euren Lieben daheim den Apostolischen Segen.

Amados peregrinos de língua portuguesa, também vós sois convidados a bendizer o Criador, que é «digno de louvor e glória para sempre». Sois uma bênção de Deus e obra do seu amor. Eu bendigo o Senhor por cada um de vós; e imploro, para o coração e o lar de todos, a alegria e a paz do natal do Deus Menino.

Saludo cordialmente a los peregrinos de lengua española, en especial a los oficiales y cadetes de la Escuela Penitenciaria de la Nación y de la Escuela Federal de Policía, de Argentina. Invito ardientemente a todos a que, reconociendo y alabando a Dios, creador y padre del género humano, acrecienten su respeto por cada persona y fomenten la paz. Gracias por vuestra atención.

Cлава Ісусу Христу. Вітаю українських паломників, які прибули до Риму, щоб подякувати за мій недавній візит в Україну. Дорогі брати і сестри, дякуючи за вашу присутність, сердечно бажаю, щоб ваше паломництво було багате на духовні плоди. Нехай цей ваш візит до міста святих Апостолів Петра і Павла зміцнить вашу віру i заохотить ставати дедалі достовірнішими свідками Євангелія. Усім вам, а також вашим близьким від щирого серця уділяю Апостольське Благословення. Слава Ісусу Христу.

Rivolgo un cordiale pensiero ai pellegrini di lingua italiana. In particolare, saluto i Vescovi della Sardegna, qui convenuti con i Seminaristi, i Superiori e quanti cooperano, in diversi modi, alla realizzazione del nuovo Pontificio Seminario Regionale. Mi compiaccio per questa importante opera che sta per essere costruita: essa costituisce motivo di speranza per l’intera Chiesa di Sardegna. Sono lieto di benedire la prima pietra della Cappella ed auspico che essa sia il centro dell’intero Istituto di formazione sacerdotale, dove coloro che si preparano al presbiterato imparino ad amare Cristo sopra di ogni cosa. Saluto poi i Seminaristi dei corsi propedeutici, provenienti dalla Calabria e li esorto a fondare la loro vita sulla salda roccia della Parola di Dio, per esserne coraggiosi annunciatori agli uomini del nostro tempo. Rivolgo, inoltre, una parola di incoraggiamento ai membri della "Casa dei piccoli operai", che ricordano il 50° anniversario della approvazione canonica.

Il mio saluto va, infine, ai giovani, ai malati e agli sposi novelli. Nel clima spirituale dell’Avvento, tempo di speranza che ci prepara al Natale, è particolarmente presente Maria, la Vergine dell’attesa. A Lei affido voi, cari giovani, perché possiate accogliere con slancio l’invito di Cristo a realizzare pienamente il suo Regno. Esorto voi, cari malati, e in modo speciale voi, cari piccoli ospiti del "Piccolo Cottolengo don Orione" di Tortona, ad offrire la vostra sofferenza insieme a Maria, per la salvezza dell’umanità. La materna intercessione della Madonna aiuti voi, cari sposi novelli, a fondare la vostra famiglia su di un amore fedele e aperto all’accoglienza della vita."


"Hoy, fiesta litúrgica de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe, Emperatriz de México y Reina de América, se inaugura el Sitio Oficial de su Insigne y Nacional Basílica. Allí, en el Tepeyac, la Madre de Dios pidió al Beato Juan Diego un lugar para hacer presente el amor de Cristo en aquellas tierras. Desde ese templo, Ella, como Madre celeste, ha asistido, consolado y fortalecido en la fe durante siglos a los millones de peregrinos que la han invocado.

Con el nuevo Sitio, el mensaje de Guadalupe puede llegar aún más lejos, ayudando a quienes buscan sentido a sus vidas y razones para la esperanza. Pidamos a Nuestra Señora que esta nueva forma de comunicación haga visible con mayor amplitud su consoladora protección, especialmente a los más pobres y marginados; y que, con la difusión de la imagen mestiza guadalupana, impulse la fraternidad entre las razas, acreciente el diálogo entre las culturas y promueva la paz."