Monday, November 9, 2015

What Are We Praying in the Our Father?

Most of us know the “Our Father” by heart. Therefore, we spew it out many times without thinking of the words that we are saying. This is short in order that, when we pause between the petitions, we may have a quick meditation.

Our Father who art in heaven. We do the works of our father. If we are born again of God through Baptism, we do the works of God. God is Life; therefore, we are born into Life in Baptism, and we do the works of Life. Prior to Baptism we were dying, the product of death; therefore, our father was the devil—for we did the works of our father. Jesus told the Pharisees in John 8:41 and 44, “You do the works of your father…You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. We do the works of our father. If our Father is God, we do good works; if our father is the devil, we do evil works.

Hallowed be Thy name. We are born again into God through Baptism, but still have a tendency to sin, are bent to sin (concupiscence); however, we desire with all our hearts to hallow God’s name. Therefore, we are asking God to hallow His name through us.

Thy Kingdom come. We pray that God causes Christ to reign in us, and that sin may not reign in our mortal body (St. Jerome).

Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. In Thomas Aquinas’ “Catena Aurea – Gospel of Matthew,” this reads Thy will be done in earth as it is in heaven. I like this rendering best because “in earth” means “in our earthy bodies. Therefore, we are asking God to cause His will to be done in our earthy bodies as it is in those who are in heaven.

Give us this day our daily bread. Although there is more to this petition, we are mainly requesting that Christ enter us in the Eucharist, either actually or spiritually.

And forgive us of our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. If we are not careful, we could be calling a curse down upon ourselves, because we are saying, “If I do not forgive others, do not forgive me.” Because it is our desire to forgive others, we pray as we do, imploring God to cause forgiveness of others in us.

And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. St. Cyprian says, “Herein it is shewn that the adversary can nothing avail against us, unless God first permit him; so that all our fear and devotion ought to be addressed to God.” St. Augustine writes, “When then we say, ‘Lead us not into temptation,’ what we ask is, that we may not, deserted by His aid, either consent through the subtle snares or yield to the forcible might, or any temptation.” We are asking God to help us avoid falling into the traps of temptation, and to deliver us from Satan.
--Tommy Turner

This theological reflection courtesy of the parishioners of St Paul Catholic Church in Pensacola, Florida: