The Lord's Prayer
by Father Paul A. Duffner, O.P.
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 LORDS 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
Pray Our 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 God Our
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
We can speak of God's Internal and
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
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
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
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.
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.
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 Gods 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
Forgiveness bears Witness that, in our World, Love is Stronger than Sin . . . . Only Hearts attuned
to Gods Compassion can receive the Gift of Prayer"
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
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 -
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
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 with Amen
whenever it is said outside of Mass
A Ten (10) minute Homily
by Father Leo Clifford