In our worship, one phrase is often repeated: “Glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit.” This is followed up with: “Both now and ever and unto ages of ages. Amen.” Have often have we heard this refrain? Have we ever considered why we hear it so frequently? It is fruitful for us to consider and learn what these words actually mean and what the Church is teaching us.

God is beyond anything that our minds can comprehend.  He is good, merciful, powerful, and everywhere present, yet he is beyond our conception of what goodness is and of w hat mercy means and of what we think of power and omnipresence. When God is revealed to us, in the small part of what we are able to grasp.  He is seen as self-evidently glorious. That is, He is being who He is in all the majesty of His Being. Of course He is beyond all being, but we, in our feebleness, rightly respond by exclaiming, “Glory to Thee!'”…What an incredible privilege to be able to sing the praise of God! Though w e are unworthy, yet w e function in our finest capacity by being instruments of worship to the Holy Trinity w ho is worthy of all glory!

But what of the phrase, “both now and ever and unto ages of ages?” Having given glory to the Holy Trinity, we now enter the eternal reality of God. He is the only God. He is now and has always been God and w ill continue being God for all ages. There is no other God beside God. This is a bold statement, but one that is absolutely essential to our faith…Another version of this phrase ends with “world without end”. This adds a certain God, who is so worthy, we willingly submit ourselves to be a world that has no end.

“Now and ever” completes the glory couplet, but does  something more. If we are destined to live our lives in eternity, the duration of our earthly existence, by comparison, is infinitesimally small. Yet our earthly life is enough time for us to repent and learn to do God’s will add learn to love as our Father loves. Whether that portion of our life is pleasant or difficult, whether it is full of years or is cut short, actually doesn’t matter.

What matters is whether we learn to love God and our neighbor and whether we lovingly submit to the will of God in surrender during this earthly existence. If w e do this, we are giving glory to God with our life, and we are prepared to enter that world that is coming and is without end.

– From the Moasnery of St John of Shanghai monastery newsletter, November 2021