Week 19 - The Lord's Prayer (p. 726-756)

Our Father
Although the Lord's Prayer, the greatest and most comprehensive of Christian prayers, is addressed to "Our Father," it is important to keep in mind something said earlier in the Catechism:
"God transcends the human distinction between the sexes. He is neither man nor woman: he is God (239)"
In other words, there may be sexists in the Catholic Church (as there are everywhere), but they certainly cannot justify themselves with the Catechism.

The reason we call God "Our Father" is for a disarmingly simple reason: Because we approach him only through the Son. We could not have approached the transcendent, omnipotent God so intimately otherwise. "We can invoke Gode as 'Father' because he is revealed to us by his Son" (2780).

Who art in Heaven
Very important to realize is the fact that "Heaven" is not necessarily a space occupying "location" per se. The Catechism calls it instead a "way of being" (2794). So we won't be "floating up to the clouds" when we die - If anything, the book of Revelation depicts a heaven that comes down to earth, and the Christian understanding of eternity is located on a renewed earth.

The 7 Petitions

The First 3: THY THY THY
1. Hallowed by Thy Name
"The holiness of God is the inaccessible center of his eternal mystery. What is revealed of it in creation and history, Scripture calls "glory," the radiance of his majesty. In making man in his image and likeness, God "crowned him with glory and honor," but by sinning, man fell "short of the glory of God." From that time on, God was to manifest his holiness by revealing and giving his name, in order to restore man to the image of his Creator" (2809).
2. Thy Kingdom Come A quick glance through these Bob Marley lyrics reveal the popularized Marxist critique that Christianity's
"kingdom come" leads to neglect of life on earth. But according to the Catechism, though we must "far from distracting the Church from her mission in this present world, this desire [for Kingdom come] commits her to it all the more strongly. The We need be careful"(2818). Though we do need to "distinguish between the growth of the Reign of God and the progress of the culture and society in which they are involved..." still this "distinction is not a separation. Man's vocation to eternal life does not suppress, but actually reinforces, his duty to put into action in this world the energies and means received from the Creator to serve justice and peac" (2820).

3. Thy Will Be Done Here the word thy (not my) recalls the prayer of Gethsemane, and is indicative of love, for "it is characteristic of love to think first of the one whom we love" (2804).

The Second 3: US US US
4. Give us this day our daily bread This can be understood both eucharistically and for more literal hunger of ourselves and the entire world. This request for daily provision does not mean we shouldn't work. St. Benedict said "Pray as if everything depended on God and work as if everything depended on you."
5. And forgive us our trespasses The fact that the stipulation is added "as we forgive" is an astonishing limitation that God's places on his forgiveness! "In refusing to forgive our brothers and sisters, our hearts are closed and their hardness makes them impervious to the Father's merciful love" (2840). In other words, if we insist on the "right" to nurse a grudge towards someone, God may insist on his "right" to do the same to us! Ouch!
6. Lead us not into temptation With this we should keep in mind the distiction between trials which "are necessary for the grwoth of the inner man" and temptation "which leads to sin and death" (2847). The way to avoid yielding to temptation is through prayer and vigilance.
7. Deliver us from evil Keep in mind here our lesson from weeks past that Satan is real.
"In this petition, evil is not an abstraction, but refers to a person, Satan, the Evil One, the angel who opposes God. The devil (dia-bolos) is the one who "throws himself across" God's plan and his work of salvation accomplished in Christ" (2851).
The Catechism also adds that "In this final petition, the Church brings before the Father all the distress of the world" (2854).

The Doxology
For the Kingdom and the Power and the Glory are yours, now and forever . "The ruler of this world has mendaciously attributed to himself the three titles of kingship, power, and glory. Christ, the Lord, restores them to his Father and our Father" (2855).

To conclude, here is a sampling of wisdom on the Lord's prayer that Catechism brings forth from the early Church:

"Since everyone has petitions which are peculiar to his circumstances, the regular and appropriate prayer [the Lord's Prayer] is said first, as the foundation for further desires... The Lord's Prayer is truly the summary of the whole Gospel." -Tertullian

It gives us "not only the things we can rightly desire, but also in the sequence that they should be desired." -Aquinas

"Run through all the words of the holy prayers [in Scripture], and I do not think that you will find anything in them that is not contained and included in the Lord's Prayer." -Augustine

"[the Lord] teaches us to make prayer in common for all our brethren. For he did not say 'my Faterh' who art in heaven, but 'our' Father." -John Chrysostom

An Ecumenical Prayer
Because of Chrysostom's point above, praying the "Our Father" is a necessarily ecumenical endeavor. "If we are to say it truthfully, our divisions and oppositions have to be overcome" (2792).

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