Pater noster…

Pater Noster the Lord's Prayer in Latin | Etsy

Among all other prayers, the Lord’s Prayer holds the chief place. — St. Thomas Aquinas

Be honest, you usually pray this prayer too fast, with mind elsewhere, or at best only half aware of what you’re saying, and thrown off a bit by the use of archaisms like art, hallowed, thy and trespasses. If not, pray for me. That said, Aquinas’ words above summarize the whole spiritual Tradition’s unanimous judgment. When it comes to prayer, the Our Father is tip of the top, cream of the crop. Even in the Mass the Lord’s Prayer, like the Nicene Creed placed right after the proclamation of the Word of God, is placed at the conclusion of the Eucharistic prayer because it is the perfect and most complete compressed summary of the entire prayer of the Church. And with its seven-petition epicenter (#4) being the begging for Bread, it serves as the perfect hunger-inducing prelude to Eucharistic Communion.

I could say so much more. At least bit…

The Our Father summarizes all 150 psalms, while dropping the curse psalms in favor of pardoning. In compressed form, it contains the entirely of divine revelation, the whole teaching of the Gospel, while encapsulating a complete response to that these while rightly posturing us as paupers before God prepared to consent to his making all things come to pass as he wills. It was given to us by Jesus not as his prayer, but as prayer to which he himself is the complete Answer. So when we pray each of its seven petitions, we in effect praying one thing: Give me Jesus. “For in him every one of God’s promises is a ‘Yes.’ For this reason it is through him that we say the ‘Amen,’ to the glory of God” (2 Cor. 1:20).

It should be our most cherished prayer, the heartbeat of any Christian mysticism. In fact, St. Teresa of Avila, who wrote a rich commentary on this prayer, held it in highest esteem. At times, she would begin the Our Father only to find herself getting lost in prayer in a single word or a phrase, so she couldn’t even finish the prayer.

Its seven petitions are simple and direct, and are each prayed in the plural making clear mine is always ours. The first three unconditionally consent to God bringing about in us the sanctity of his Name, the rule of his kingdom, and the accomplishment of his will, so we might become his heaven on earth. Then in the next four petitions, we nearly-command, under the form of a child’s irresistible pleading, God to feed us with superabundant [epiousion] Bread unto an overflow of “our” alms; God to forgive us all our sins unto an overflow of forgiveness for all; God to spare us from falling beneath the weight of trials unto carrying one another; and God to rescue us from both evil and the Evil One unto the liberation of all captives.

Other than those seven open-mouthed and open-handed petitions (Ps. 81:11; 112:9), I imagine there is nothing else to be prayed, or done. And even as they are mightily empowering, I also cannot imagine words more frightening for a man like me who still maintains a vice grip on so many of the wrong things. But we, as adopted children, with boldness and without condemnation dare to call upon the Heavenly God as Father, and pray…

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