Saturday, October 24, 2009

Our Father who art in Heaven

I always wanted to do an exposition on the Lord's Prayer, but I'll bow to a more esteemed expert. Thanks to Binu Abraham for pointing this out to me.

From a letter to Proba by Saint Augustine, bishop

(Ep. 130, 11, 21—12, 22: CSEL 44, 63-64)

On the Lord’s Prayer

We need to use words so that we may remind ourselves to consider
carefully what we are asking, not so that we may think we can
instruct the Lord or prevail on him.

Thus, when we say: Hallowed be your name, we are reminding
ourselves to desire that his name, which in fact is always holy, should
also be considered holy among men. I mean that it should not be
held in contempt. But this is a help for men, not for God.

And as for our saying: Your kingdom come, it will surely come
whether we will it or not. But we are stirring up our desires for the
kingdom so that it can come to us and we can deserve to reign there.

When we say: Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven, we are
asking him to make us obedient so that his will may be done in us as
it is done in heaven by his angels.
When we say: Give us this day our daily bread, in saying this day we
mean “in this world.” Here we ask for a sufficiency by specifying
the most important part of it; that is, we use the word “bread” to
stand for everything. Or else we are asking for the sacrament of
the faithful, which is necessary in this world, not to gain temporal
happiness but to gain the happiness that is everlasting.

When we say: Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass
against us, we are reminding ourselves of what we must ask and what
we must do in order to be worthy in turn to receive.

When we say: Lead us not into temptation, we are reminding
ourselves to ask that his help may not depart from us; otherwise we
could be seduced and consent to some temptation, or despair and
yield to it.

When we say: Deliver us from evil, we are reminding ourselves to
reflect on the fact that we do not yet enjoy the state of blessedness in
which we shall suffer no evil. This is the final petition contained in
the Lord’s Prayer, and it has a wide application. In this petition the
Christian can utter his cries of sorrow, in it he can shed his tears, and
through it he can begin, continue and conclude his prayer, whatever
the distress in which he finds himself. Yes, it was very appropriate
that all these truths should be entrusted to us to remember in these
very words.

Whatever be the other words we may prefer to say (words which
the one praying chooses so that his disposition may become clearer
to himself or which he simply adopts so that his disposition may
be intensified), we say nothing that is not contained in the Lord’s
Prayer, provided of course we are praying in a correct and proper
way. But if anyone says something which is incompatible with this
prayer of the Gospel, he is praying in the flesh, even if he is not
praying sinfully. And yet I do not know how this could be termed
anything but sinful, since those who are born again through the
Spirit ought to pray only in the Spirit.

One is never disappointed with St.Augustine (though he did have some odd opinions about babies and plays among other things).

May God Bless you all.


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