5 Ways Of Worshiping God (By A Saint Who Was A Dhimmi)

5 Ways Of Worshiping God (By A Saint Who Was A Dhimmi) May 15, 2016

St. John of Damacus
St. John of Damacus, Public Domain

I’ve been reading some of the selections on the YIMCatholic Bookshelf. As it turns out, a good number of the books in that collection are written by authors whose names begin with the letter S. Saint this, or Saint that, for example.

Sometimes these folks have brief passages in their works that are both short and helpful. In fact, some of them are like the listicles that the interwebs have come to know and love. Like the one below, which was written by St. John Damascene.

Did you know that this particular Doctor of the Church was a Dhimmi living in Damascus when his neighbors were mostly adherents of Islam? This fact didn’t seem to bother him, or them. In fact, it appears that before he headed off to the cloister,  he may have served as the chief councilor to the Umayyad Caliph in Damascus.

Let’s get to the listicle alluded to in the title above, shall we? It appears in his Apologia Against Those Who Decry Holy Images. Remember the iconoclasts? Yep. The Doctor from Damascus wasn’t amused when other Christians started being bitten by the politically correct bug waffling over the adoration of icons, and religious art. He torpedoes that whole movement pretty handily.

So, what are the 5 ways of worshiping, or adoring God? St. John thought you’d never ask.

On Adoration.

What is Adoration?

Adoration is a token of subjection,—that is, of submission and humiliation. There are many kinds of adoration.

On the kinds of Adoration.

The first kind is the worship of latreia, which we give to God, who alone is adorable by nature, and this worship is shown in several ways, and first by the worship of servants. All created things worship Him, as servants their master. All things serve Thee, the psalm says. Some serve willingly, others unwillingly; some with full knowledge, willingly, as in the case of the devout, others knowing, but not willing, against their will, as the devil’s. Others, again, not knowing the true God, worship in spite of themselves Him whom they do not know.

The second kind is the worship of admiration and desire which we give to God on account of His essential glory. He alone is worthy of praise, who receives it from no one, being Himself the cause of all glory and all good, He is light, incomprehensible sweetness, incomparable, immeasurable perfection, an ocean of goodness, boundless wisdom, and power, who alone is worthy of Himself to excite admiration, to be worshipped, glorified, and desired.

The third kind of worship is that of thanksgiving for the goods we have received. We must thank God for all created things, and show Him perpetual worship, as from Him and through Him all creation takes its being and subsists. He gives lavishly of His gifts to all, and without being asked. He wishes all to be saved, and to partake of His goodness. He is long-suffering with us sinners. He allows His sun to shine upon the just and unjust, and His rain to fall upon the wicked and the good alike. And being the Son of God, He became one of us for our sakes, and made us partakers of His divine nature, so that we shall be like unto Him, as St John says in his Catholic epistle.

The fourth kind is suggested by the need and hope of benefits. Recognising that without Him we can neither do nor possess anything good, we worship Him, asking Him to satisfy our needs and desires, that we may be preserved from evil and arrive at good.

The fifth kind is the worship of contrition and confession. As sinners we worship God, and prostrate ourselves before Him, needing His forgiveness, as it becomes servants. This happens in three ways. A man may be sorry out of love, or lest he should lose God’s benefits, or for fear of chastisement. The first is prompted by goodness and desire for God himself, and the condition of a son: the second is interested, the third is slavish.

You can find the entire book right here.

Umayyad Caliphate, huh? Hmmm. That rings a bell.

Umayyad Palace (720AD), the Citadel, Amman, Jordan Image credit: Connor Eberhart
Umayyad Palace (720AD), the Citadel, Amman, Jordan.
Image credit: Connor Eberhart


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