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Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The Catechesis of The "Our Father"

The Catechism of the Catholic Church says in paragraph 2774, “The Lord’s Prayer is truly the summary of the whole gospel,” quoting Tertullian. It says that it is the “most perfect of prayers,” citing St. Thomas Aquinas. Finally, it says that the Lord’s Prayer is at the center of the Scriptures.

I believe a case can be made that each section of the Catechism is represented inside of the “Our Father” in one way or another, making the Lord’s Prayer a miniature Catechism.

There are four parts of the Catechism: the Creed, the Sacraments, Morality or the 10 Commandments, and Prayer.

Let’s start with Prayer. Obviously, the “Our Father” is a prayer and the Catechism uses it as a model for all prayer.

I think that the 10 Commandments are hinted at in the “Our Father.” The prayer has seven petitions. The first three are about God and the next is concerning ourselves and our neighbor. In the 10 Commandments, the first three are about God and the next seven are about ourselves and our neighbors. So that is in a general sense.

More specifically, in paragraph 1803 of the Catechism, we are introduced to the Virtues. The three theological virtues of Faith, Hope and Charity and the four cardinal virtues of Prudence, Justice, Fortitude and Temperance are discussed.

The Father’s name is made holy when we have FAITH in all that He has revealed. The Father’s name becomes set apart in our lives above every other name.

We have HOPE in the final coming of Christ’s Kingdom on the last day.

In CHARITY we love God above all things and do His will.

I think “give us this day our daily bread” points us to TEMPERANCE and that God is our only satisfaction.

In JUSTICE we need to forgive others as we have been forgiven.

We need to have FORTITUDE to persevere through any trials we might face.
Finally, we are delivered from evil choices when we are PRUDENT.

What about the Sacraments?

To begin, I will let the Catechism speak for itself as far as “Hallowed be thy name.”

2813 In the waters of BAPTISM, we have been “washed... Sanctified …in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.” Our Father calls us to holiness in the whole of our life, and since “he is the source of [our] life in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God, and... sanctification,” both his glory and our life depend on the hallowing of his name in us and by us. Such is the urgency of our first petition.

“Thy kingdom come” and “give us this day our daily bread” could sort of be interchangeable. I think they are the PRIESTHOOD and the EUCHARIST. The Kingdom comes and the daily bread are given at the hands of the priest. I am a bit torn on those.

“Thy will be done on earth and it is in Heaven” points us toward MARRIAGE, in this sense. Marriage is a picture of Christ, who is in Heaven, and His church, which is here on earth. These some day will be joined in the harmony of God’s Will.

“Forgive us our trespasses…” easily points us to CONFESSION.

“Lead us not into temptation” is more like “don’t put us to the test.” We know God doesn’t tempt anyone.
This is CONFIRMATION, and confirmation of this is in:
CCC 1296 This seal of the Holy Spirit marks our total belonging to Christ, our enrollment in his service for ever, as well as the promise of divine protection in the great eschatological trial.

Finally, “deliver us from evil.” Deliver us with the ANOINTING OF THE SICK, so that if we at least do not recover, our hearts are strengthened toward Heaven.

Finally, what about the Creed?

Well, the creeds that most of us know begin with the words, “We believe in God the Father…” That is how this prayer begins and then both the Nicene Creed and the Apostles’ Creed have an outline of Salvation History.

So God’s name is Hallowed in the Incarnation of His Son.

The Kingdom comes - CCC 2816 - It is brought near in the Word incarnate, it is proclaimed throughout the whole Gospel, and it has come in Christ’s death and Resurrection. The Kingdom of God has been coming since the Last Supper and, in the Eucharist, it is in our midst.

“thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven”
CCC 2823 The catechism is citing Ephesians 1 here. “He has made known to us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure that he set forth in Christ... to gather up all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth. In Christ we have also obtained an inheritance,

We obtained our inheritance when Christ ascended into Heaven and is seated at the right hand of God the Father. Christ then sends the Holy Spirit to “give us our daily bread.” Both the Eucharist and our daily needs He provides.

We believe also in the forgiveness of sins, that is next in the creeds and in the “Our Father”.

We believe that there will be a final battle where we will be put to the test. We ask God to preserve us from that.

But finally, deliver us from evil in the resurrection of the dead and a New Heavens and a New Earth.


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