The Lord's Prayer


Creation of the Sun, Moon, and Plants by God - by MICHELANGELO Buonarroti - from Cappella Sistina, Vatican

We call God "Father" because He created us -
and created us in a special way, in His own Image and Likeness.

 

The Our Father

Our Father, Who art in Heaven,
Hallowed be Thy Name.
Thy Kingdom come.
Thy Will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.

Amen.

Pater Noster

Pater Noster, qui es in caelis,
sanctificetur nomen tuum.
Adveniat regnum tuum.
Fiat voluntas tua, sicut in caelo et in terra.
Panem nostrum quotidianum da nobis hodie,
et dimitte nobis debita nostra sicut et nos
dimittimus debitoribus nostris.
Et ne nos inducas in tentationem,
sed libera nos a malo.

Amen.

 

The Lord's Prayer

by Father Paul A. Duffner, O.P.

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On one occasion Our Lord was in Journey with His Disciples, and while on the way He stopped to Pray. At the sight of Him Praying, they wondered why He had not taught them to Pray as John the Baptist had taught his Disciples. When He finished, they asked Him: “Lord, teach us to Pray”. In response to their request, He taught them the “Our Father”, commonly referred to as THE LORD’S PRAYER, because it was taught by Our Lord Himself.

This Prayer has Seven (7) Petitions divided in Two (2) Parts. The First Part contains Three (3) Petitions which are an expression of our desire that God's Sovereignty and Dominion be-acknowledged and that His Will be-done, while the Second Part contains Four (4) Petitions as to our Needs.

 

Our Father Who Art in Heaven

This First Phrase is an expression of Adoration which Precedes the Seven (7) Petitions that follow, and which is meant to put us in the Presence of God. Not that we are not always in Godís Presence, but rather it is to make us Mindful of it.

We would never have dared to call God our Father and consider ourselves as His Children, if Jesus had not Revealed it and told us to Pray in that way. Yet, we can see the Fittingness of that Expression for the Father has Created us in His own Likeness and Image.

Our Savior speaks of His Father in Heaven Who shares with Him the Fullness of His Divine Nature. He and the Father are One (1) (John 10:30). Yet, we too, are Children of the same Father (not by Nature as Jesus is, but by Adoption - through Baptism) Who shares with us His Own Divine Nature through Grace. Since both we and Jesus have a common Father, He taught us to PrayOur Father”.

In Instructing us to Address our Prayers to Our Father, and not My Father, Jesus is Teaching us to be Mindful of the Needs of Others as well as our own, namely, all those for whom the Father gave His Only-Begotten Son. That is why all the Prayers of the Liturgy are addressed in the Plural. As the new Catholic Catechism (CCC) explains, the Our in the First Half of the Lord's Prayer, like the Us in the Second Half, excludes no one (CCC 2792).

But as some Saints have pointed out, if we are to call GodOur Father” we ought to Act as His Children, with the Love and Reverence and Obedience that this Relationship demands. We should live in such a way that we give Witness by our lives of that LOVE (1John 4:8) and TRUTH (John 14:6) that is God, and which He has shared with us.

 

Hallowed be Thy Name
- Petition I -

To “Hallow” means to make Holy, to cause to be Revered. We do not add to the Holiness of God's Name by our Prayers; rather we are asking that His Name be Revered in us and by us. God is Infinitely Holy, the source of all Holiness. Our Prayers add nothing to that.

We Pray that we who have been made Holy by His Presence in our Soul through the Grace of Baptism, may Persevere in what He has begun in us. We offer this Daily Prayer to the Father that the New Life which is ours by His Favor, may be Preserved and Grow by His Protection.

May His Name be Revered, for in that name Devils are Cast-out, the Lame and Sick are Healed, etc. (Mark 16:17; Acts 3:6). May His Name be Glorified, for at the Name of Jesus, His Son, every knee should bow, of things in Heaven, on Earth, and under the Earth (Philippians 2:10).

We can speak of God's Internal and External Glory. His Internal Glory ( His Infinite Knowledge, Love, Power, etc.) is Limitless and cannot Increase. But His External Glory (the Manifestation of His Wisdom, Love, Power, etc.) can and should be better Known and Loved. May we be Instruments of making Him better Known, Loved and Revered.

 

Thy Kingdom Come
- Petition II -

In this Petition we Pray that His Kingdom Grow and Increase, not only in the World, but in us. May He Reign in our Souls and Govern our Lives; i.e., may we recognize His Sovereignty and Dominion over us, and Obey His Command.

We ask that the Messianic Kingdom, the Church of Christ established for the Salvation of Mankind, spread throughout the World . . . that the Zeal of its Members be Intensified . . . that Christ the King Reign in all Hearts through Their Obedience to His Church.

Referring to that Kingdom, Saint Paul warned: “Do not let Sin reign in your Body so that you obey its Lusts” (Romans 6:12). In line with that, Saint Ambrose says that there are as many “kings” ruling in our Heart as there are Sins and Vices controlling us. Christ Reigns in our Heart insofar as, led by the Holy Spirit, we observe His Commandments, fulfill the Duties of our State in Life, and bear Willingly the Crosses He allows. Thus, says Saint Thomas Aquinas, when we Pray that His Kingdom Come, we Pray that God (and not Sin) may Reign in us (The Three Greatest Prayers).

We offer this Petition, too, for those who do not recognize the Lord's Kingdom and His Sovereignty over all, and for those who do not recognize His very existence. We offer it also for many within the Church, who at times do not recognize Its Teaching Authority, and Refuse to Accept Its Official Teaching. This Petition will find its Total Fulfillment and Glory at the Final Coming of Christ, when He hands over the Kingdom to the Father (CCC 2816).

 

Thy Will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven
- Petition III -

In this Petition Saint Cyprian explains that “we do not Pray that God should do His Will. How could anyone prevent God from doing His Will? But in our Prayer we ask that Godís Will be done in us” (Roman Breviary).

Saint Thomas explains that this Petition presupposes Two (2) Things: God's Grace and Man's Will. “Thy Will be done” with the Help of God's Grace, and with Solicitude and Effort on our part (ibid.).

In Heaven the Rebellion of our Fallen Nature is completely missing. In this Petition we ask that, with the Help of Grace, whatever in us (of Mind or Body) that Rebels against what God Wills, be removed. In Heaven the Sovereignty of God is Perfectly Acknowledged, and His Will Perfectly Fulfilled. We are asking that His Sovereignty be Acknowledged on Earth, and that His Children in this World Love and Revere Him by Observing His Laws and Keeping His Commandments.

The Father Wills the Salvation of all Mankind. But He has Created us with a Free Will; so He Wills our Salvation on condition that, with the Help of His Grace, we fulfill His Will. So in this Petition we Pray: Help us to Cooperate with Your Grace and Unite ourselves with the Obedience of Your Son, and to bear Patiently the Trials and Crosses You send. “Thy Will, not mine be done” (Luke 22:42).

 

Give Us This Day Our Daily Bread
- Petition IV -

The First Three (3) Blessings, we asked for Spiritual Blessings that begin in this Life but are not possessed Perfectly until the Next Life. In this Fourth Petition we ask for Needs of the Present Life. Those Needs can be Temporal or Spiritual.

 

A) Temporal:

    This is a Plea to the Eternal Father, the Divine Provider, to grant us the Basic Needs of our Livelihood. It is an acknowledgment that He is the Source of all that we have and a Plea that He will continue to Bless us (our Family, our Nation, the whole World) with the Necessities of Life. It is a Plea for those who Hunger because they lack the Necessities of Life.

    It is a Plea also, says Saint Thomas, to help us avoid Sins which tend to arise from the Desire of Temporal Goods, such as: Greed, Fraud, Excessive Solicitude for the Future, Ingratitude, etc. It is a Plea for sharing in keeping with the Solidarity of the Human Family.

 

B) Spiritual:

    1) Sacramental Bread:

    This is a Plea to receive the “Bread of Life”, the Eucharist, which the Church prepares for us for our Spiritual Nourishment. This Bread is not given to everyone, but only to those who acknowledge God as Father, and Christ as His Son, and who accept the Full Teaching of His Church. It is a plea also that the Whole World will some day be able to partake of this Divine Banquet.

    2) The Bread of God’s Word:

    Just as the Body needs to be fed with Bread made of Wheat, so the Soul needs to be fed with the Bread of Truth - God's Word. Just as the Body craves and needs material food, so the Soul needs the Light and Guidance of God's Revealed Word, to know Him Who is the Way to the Father. “Not by bread alone does man live, but by every Word that proceeds from the Mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4).

    3) The Bread of Divine Grace:

    This Plea includes all those Graces and Divine Helps necessary for Salvation. Each day, each minute of the day, we are dependent on God far more than we realize for the countless Graces we receive in every conscious thought and deed.

 

Forgive Us Our Trespasses as We Forgive Those Who Trespass Against Us
- Petition V -

This Petition is a Plea for Mercy; but it is a reminder that Godís Mercyis Conditional, that is, it depends on our Willingness to Forgive those who have Offended us. The Lord spoke of this in the Sermon on the Mount: “If you forgive men their offenses, your Heavenly Father will forgive you yours; but if you will not forgive men, neither will your Heavenly Father forgive you your offenses” (Matthew 6:14).

It is not only a Plea for Forgiveness, but that we have the Charity, Humility and Spiritual Strength to Forgive those who have Offended us. And we must remember there are Subtle Ways of not Forgiving: e.g., Harboring Resentment, not speaking to someone, seeking to get even, etc.

Only the Holy Spirit by Whom we live can Transform our Heart to Forgive as Christ did on Calvary. “It is not in our power not to feel or to forget an offense; but the Heart that offers itself to the Holy Spirit turns injury into compassion and purifies the memory in transforming the hurt into intercession” (CCC 2842, 2843).

Forgiveness bears Witness that, in our World, Love is Stronger than Sin . . . . Only Hearts attuned to God’s Compassion can receive the Gift of Prayer" (CCC 2844).

 

Lead Us Not Into Temptation
- Petition VI -

This Petition is an appeal to God's Protective Providence. We can distinguish Two (2) Kinds of 'Temptation': those of Solicitation (Inducement to Sin), and of Probation (a Testing of Virtue). God never 'Tempts' in the First Manner, but does Frequently in the Second. He uses Persons and Situations to Test our Patience, our Humility, our Purity, our Faith, our Hope, our Love of Him. Without this kind of 'Temptation' or 'Trial' there would be Little Progress in Virtue, and we would not be aware of our own Weaknesses. Consequently, in this Petition we do not ask that we not be 'Tempted', but that we not be Overcome-by 'Temptation'.

Even Temptation by the Devil, Who knows well our Weaknesses and how to exploit Them, and Who wishes only our Eternal Damnation, God allows at times to Test our Virtue and to bring about Spiritual Growth by our Resisting the Allurements of Sin.

We must, then, with the Help of the Holy Spirit, Discern between Trials which are necessary for Spiritual Growth, and Temptation that leads to Sin. We must Discern, too, between Being Tempted (which is not Sin) and Consenting to Temptation (which is Sin).

God is Faithful, and will not let you be Tempted beyond your Strength, but with the Temptation will also give you a way out that you may be able to bear it” (1Corinthians 10:13). Yet, one who Deliberately walks into a Tempting Situation must not expect God's Protection. He walks into a Snare the Devil will make good use of.

Victory in this Battle is possible only through Prayer. (CCC 2849). “Watch and Pray that you may not enter into Temptation. The Spirit is willing but the Flesh is weak” (Matthew 26:41).

 

But Deliver Us From Evil
- Petition VII -

lucifer2.gif (31255 bytes) In this Petition, Evil is not an Abstraction, but refers to a person, Satan, the Evil One, the Angel Who Opposes God. We ask to be delivered from the Power of the Devil Whose Object is to Thwart God's Plan of Salvation accomplished in Christ (CCC 2851). And notice that it is always “We” who Pray, in common with the Whole Church, for the Deliverance of the Whole Human Family (CCC 2850).

Christ conquered Satan by His Passion and Death, a Victory won for the Whole of Mankind; but since Man is Free to Obey or Disobey his Creator, he can Turn From God and come again under the Dominion of the Evil One. And thus we are asking to be delivered from the Evil of Falling into Sin, and from Failing to Cooperate with the Graces that accompany every Temptation. We are asking to be Strengthened and Protected from the Wiles of the Devil Who Deceived our First Parents into Disobedience against God's Command, and Who through the Centuries has never ceased to strive to Deceive their Descendants into choosing their own Will and Plan in-preference-to God's.

Our Blessed Lord gave us a warning as to the Power of the Devil, and a reminder of Protective Safeguards against His Cunning when He cast-out the Evil Spirit from a Tormented Youth: “This kind can be cast out only by Prayer and Fasting” (Mark 9:28). Many Centuries later Our Savior revealed to Saint Margaret Mary: “The Devil is Powerless over those who Obey”.

 

    NOTE: Some people ask if the “Amen” is still a part of the OUR FATHER, since it is no longer recited in the Mass. The new Catholic Catechism of the Catholic Church makes it clear that this Prayer should end withAmen” whenever it is said outside of Mass (CCC 2856).

 

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A Ten (10) minute Homily
by Father Leo Clifford