THE OUR FATHER
Taken from The Secret of the Rosary, by St. Louis De Montfort
The Our Father or the Lord's prayer has great value--above all because of its Author Who is neither a man nor an angel but the King of angels and men, Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Saint Cyprian says that it was fitting that our Savior by Whom we were reborn into the life of grace should also be our heavenly Master and should teach us how to pray.
The beautiful order, the tender forcefulness and the clarity of this divine prayer pay tribute to our divine Master's wisdom. It is a short prayer but can teach us so very much and it is well within the grasp of uneducated people, while scholars find it a continual source of meditation on the mysteries of our Faith.
The Our Father contains all the duties we owe to God, the acts of all the virtues and the petitions for all our spiritual and corporal needs. Tertullian says that the Our Father is a summary of the New Testament. Thomas 'a Kempis says that it surpasses all the desires of all the saints; that it is a condensation of all the beautiful sayings of all the Psalms and Canticles; that in it we ask God for everything that we need; that by it we praise Him in the very best way; that by it we lift up our souls from earth to heaven and unite them with God.
Saint John Chrysostom says that we cannot be our Master's disciples unless we pray as He did and in the way that He showed us. Moreover God the Father listens more willingly to the Prayer that we have learned from His Son rather than those of our own making which have all our human limitations.
We should say that Our Father with the certitude that the eternal Father will hear it because it is the prayer of His Son Whom He always hears and we are His members. God will surely grant our petitions made through the Lord's Prayer because it is impossible to imagine that such a good Father could refuse a request couched in the language of so worthy a Son, reinforced by His merits, and made at His behest.
Saint Augustine says that whenever we say the Our Father devoutly our venial sins are forgiven. The just man falls seven times a day, but in the Lord's Prayer he will find seven petitions which will both help him to avoid downfalls and will protect him from his spiritual enemies. Our Lord, knowing how weak and helpless we are, and how many difficulties we get into, made His Prayer short and easy to say, so that if we say it devoutly and often we can be sure that Almighty God will quickly come to our aid.
I have a word for you, devout souls, who pay little attention to the prayer that the Son of God gave us Himself and asked us all to say: It is high time for you to change your way of thinking. You only like prayers that men have written---as though anybody, even the most inspired man in the whole world, could possibly know more about how we ought to pray than Jesus Christ Himself! You look for prayers in books written by other men almost as though you were ashamed of saying the prayer that Our Lord told us to say.
You have managed to convince yourself that the prayers in these books are for scholars and for rich people of the upper classes and that the Rosary is only for women and children and the lower classes. As if the prayers and praises which you have been reading were more beautiful and more pleasing to God than those which are to be found in the Lord's Prayer! It is a very dangerous temptation to lose interest in the prayer that Our Lord gave us and to take up prayers that men have written instead.
Not that I disapprove of prayers that the saints have written so as to encourage the faithful to praise God, but it is not to be endured that they should prefer the latter to the Prayer which was uttered by Wisdom Incarnate. If they ignore this Prayer it is just as though they pass up the spring to go after the brook and refusing the clear water, drink dirty water instead. Because the Rosary made up of the Lord's Prayer and the Angelic Salutation, is this clear and ever flowing water which comes from the Fountain of Grace, whereas other prayers which they look for in books are nothing but tiny streams which spring from this fountain.
People who say Our Lord's Prayer carefully, weighing every word and meditating upon it, may indeed call themselves blessed for they find therein everything that they need or can wish for.
When we say this wonderful prayer we touch God's heart at the very outset by calling Him by the sweet name of Father---Our Father. He is the dearest of fathers: all-powerful in His creation, wonderful in the way He maintains the world, completely lovable in His Diving Providence,---always good and infinitely so in the Redemption. We have God for our Father so we are all brothers--and heaven is our homeland and our heritage. This should be more than enough to teach us to love God and our neighbor and to be detached from the things of this world.
So we ought to love our Heavenly Father and should say to Him over and over again:
Our Father Who art in heaven,
Thou Who dost fill heaven and earth
With the immensity of Thy Being,
Thou Who art present everywhere-
Thou Who art in the saints
By Thy glory,
In the damned
By Thy Justice,
In the good
By Thy grace--
And even in sinners
By the patience
With which Though dost tolerate them-
Grant we beseech Thee;
Grant that we may live
As Thy true children ought to live-
Grant that we may set our course
And never swerve-
Grant that we may use
Our every power,
Our hearts and souls and strength
To tend towards Thee
And Thee Alone.
Hallowed be Thy name:
King David, the prophet, said that the name of the Lord is holy and awe-inspiring, and Isaias that heaven is always echoing with praises of the Seraphim who unceasingly praise the holiness of the Lord God of Hosts.
We ask here that all the world may learn to know and adore the attributes of our God Who is so great and so holy. We ask that He may be known, loved and adored by pagans, Turks, Jews, barbarians and by all infidels-that all men may serve and glorify Him by a living faith, a staunch hope, burning charity and by renouncing all erroneous beliefs. This all adds up to say that we pray that all men by be holy, because God Himself is all-holy.
Thy Kingdom come:
Do Thou reign in our souls
By Thy grace
So that after death
We may be found meet
To reign with Thee
In They Kingdom
In perfect and unending bliss.
Oh Lord we firmly believe
In this happiness to come;
We hope for and we expect it,
Because God the Father
Has promised it
In His great goodness;
It was purchased for us
By the merits of God the Son
And God the Holy Spirit
He who is the Light
Has made it known to us.
Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven:
As Tertullian says, this sentence does not in the least mean that we are afraid of people thwarting God's designs because nothing whatsoever can happen without Diving Providence having foreseen it and having made it fit into His plans beforehand. No obstruction in the whole world can possibly prevent the will of God from being carried out.
Rather, when we say thy will be done, we ask god to make us humbly resigned to all that He has seen fit to send us in this life. We also ask Him to help us to do, in all things and at all times, His Holy will, made known to us by the commandments, promptly, lovingly and faithfully as the saints and angels do it in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread:
Our Lord taught us to ask God for everything that we need whether in the spiritual or temporal order. By asking for our daily bread we humbly admit our own poverty and insufficiency and pay tribute to our God, knowing that all temporal good come from His Divine Providence.
When we say bread we ask for that which is just necessary to live; and of course, this does not include luxuries.
We ask for this bread today this day which means that we are concerned only for the present, leaving the morrow in the hands of Providence.
And when we ask for our daily bread we recognize that we need God's help every day and that we are entirely dependent upon Him and for His help and protection.
Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us:
Every sin, say Saint Augustine and Tertullian, is a debt which we contract towards Almighty God and His justice demands payment down to the very last farthing. Unfortunately we all have these sad debts.
No matter how many they may be we should go to God in all confidence and with true sorrow for our sins, saying "Our Father Who art in Heaven, forgive us our sins of thought and those of speech, forgive us our sins of commission and omission which make us infinitely guilty in the eyes of Thy Divine Justice.
"We dare to ask this because Thou art our loving and merciful Father and because we have forgotten those who have offended us, out of obedience to Thee and out of charity.
"Do not permit us, in spite of our infidelity to Thy graces, to give in to the temptations of the world, the devil and the flesh."
But deliver us from evil:
The evil of sin and also of temporal punishment and everlasting punishment which we know that we have rightly deserved.
Amen (So be it).
This word at the end of Our Father is very consoling and Saint Jerome says that it is a sort of seal of approbation that Almighty God puts at the end of our petitions to assure us that He will grant our requests -- very much as though He Himself were answering:
"Amen! May it be as you have asked, for verily you have obtained what you asked for." This is what is meant by the word "Amen."
Each word of the Lord's Prayer is a tribute we pay to the perfections of God. We honor His fertility by the name of Father:
Who throughout eternity
Dost beget a Son
Who is God like Thee-
Eternal, consubstantial with Thee
Who Is the very same essence
And is of like power
As Thou art...
Father and Son
Who from Your mutual love
Produce the Holy Spirit
Who is God like unto You;
But one God.
Our Father - this means that He is the Father of mankind because He has created us and continues to sustain us, and because He has redeemed us. He is also the merciful Father of sinners, the Father Who is the friend of the just and the glorious Father of the blessed in heaven.
When we say Who art, by these words we pay tribute to the infinity and immensity and fullness of God's essence. God is rightly called "He Who is"; that is to say, He exists of necessity, essentially, and eternally, because He is the Being of beings and the cause of all beings. He possesses within Himself, in a supereminent degree, the perfections of all beings and He is in all of them by His essence, by His presence and by His power, but without being bounded by their limitations. We honor His sublimity and His glory and His majesty by the words Who art in heaven, that is to say, "Who is seated as on a throne, holding sway over all men by Thy justice."
When we say hallowed be Thy name we worship God's holiness; and we make obeisance to His Kingship and bow to the justice of His laws by the words Thy kingdom come, praying that men will obey Him on earth as the angels do in heaven.
We show our trust in His Providence by asking for our daily bread, and we appeal to His mercy when we ask for the forgiveness of our sins.
We look to His great power when we beg Him not to lead us into temptation, and we show our faith in His goodness by our hope that He will deliver us from evil.
The Son of God has always glorified His Father by His works and He came into the word to give glory to Him. He showed men how to praise Him by this prayer which He taught us with His own lips. It is our duty, therefore, to say it often--we should say it reverently and attentively and in the spirit in which Our Lord taught it.
We make as many acts of the noblest Christian virtues as we pronounce words, when we recite attentively this divine prayer.
In saying "Our Father Who art in heaven," we make acts of faith, adoration, and humility. When we ask that His name be hallowed and glorified we show a burning zeal for His glory, and when we ask for the spread of His Kingdom we make an act of hope; by the wish that His will be done on earth as it is in heaven, we show a spirit of perfect obedience.
In asking for our daily bread we practice poverty of spirit and detachment from worldly goods. When we beg Him to forgive us our sins we make an act of sorrow for them. By forgiving those who have trespassed against us we give proof of the virtue of mercy in its highest degree.
Through asking God's help in all our temptations, we make acts of humility, prudence and fortitude. As we wait for Him to deliver us from evil we exercise the virtue of patience.
Finally, while asking for all these things -- not for ourselves alone but also for our neighbor and for all members of the Church--we are carrying out our duty as true children of God, we are imitating Him in His love which embraces all men and we are keeping the commandment of love of neighbor.
If we are mean in our hearts what we say with our lips and if our intentions are not at variance with those expressed in the Lord's Prayer, then by reciting this prayer, we hate all sin and we observe all of God's laws. For whenever we think that God is in heaven -- as we place ourselves in His presence we should be filled with overwhelming reverence. Then the fear of the Lord will chase away all pride and we will bow before God in our utter nothingness.
When we say the name Father and remember that we owe our existence to God by the means of our parents and even our knowledge to our teachers who hold the place and are the living images of God, then we cannot help paying them honor and respect, or, to be more exact, honoring God in them. Nothing then, too, would be farther from our thoughts than to be disrespectful to them or hurt them.
We are never farther from blaspheming than when we pray that the Holy Name of God may be glorified. If we really look upon the Kingdom of God as our heritage we cannot possibly be attached to the things of this world.
If we sincerely ask God that our neighbor may have the very same blessings that we ourselves stand in need of, it goes without saying that we will give up all hatred, quarreling and jealousy. And of course if we ask God each day for our daily bread we shall learn to hate gluttony and lasciviousness which thrive in rich surroundings.
While sincerely asking God to forgive us as we forgive those who trespass against us we no longer give way to anger and thoughts of getting even -- we return good for evil and really love our enemies.
To ask God to save us from falling into sin when we are tempted is to give proof that we are fighting laziness and that we are genuinely seeking means to root out our vicious habits and to work out our salvation.
To pray God to deliver us from evil is to fear His justice and this will give us true happiness. For since the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom, it is through the virtue of the fear of God that men avoid sin.
For the complete contents of the Butter Rum Cartoon, click here.
For the complete contents of the Butter Rum Cartoon, click here.