No. 3 THE LORD’S PRAYER ARRANGED IN CONNECTION WITH A COURSE OF PIOUS THOUGHTS PROPER FOR MEDITATION. From Ludovicus de Ponte, Lessius, and others.
By a multiplicity of rights and of titles, Father.
- By title of creation, whereby He made us to His own image.
- Of adoption, through the grace, whereby He made us His heirs, and joint-heirs of His only begotten Son. Oh, how justly we call Him Father, who is so many times ready to receive us, when we sin, into the same favor as before, that He may at length admit us also to the glory, which is the inheritance of the sons of God! Dearly bought, indeed, was this relationship of Father by the Son of God, who only secured it for us by the death of the cross, and with the price of His blood.
- He is Father by His Providence, in sustaining the body with so many creatures given us for food and medicine; and in so lovingly providing for the soul by so many aids of grace and salvation; so that, on this single account, He alone truly deserves to be called Father. Therefore, He says. Call none Your father upon earth; for One is Your Father, who is in heaven. And rightly, for my father and my mother have forsaken me; (since without God, what assistance can they afford to my soul, or even to my body?) but the Lord has taken me up; He never forsakes us but when we forsake Him.
- By discipline and correction. For a father reproves and chastises the son whom He loves.
- He is Father by His indulgence and love. As a father has compassion on His children, so has the Lord compassion on them that fear Him. So, then, if He is a Father, I am indeed a son. Oh, how great a dignity is this! It is but just, then, that I should render Him the duty of a true son, by love, obedience, and respect. How base would it be, if I, who have been thus, promoted from the bondage of so vile a slavery, should become degenerate, and offend so good a Father!
He would have us, moreover, begin our prayer to Him with this address, to assure us of obtaining what we ask, in approaching God as a Father; and because He glories in this name of Father, He delights in being so addressed. Let us, then, approach Him with the affection of sons, endeavor to please Him in all things, and ask those things which it becomes such a Father to give.
We say our, not my Father,
1st. Because, though He has one Son only by nature, He would have as many sons as possible by adoption, both angels and men; and this in such a way, that each may rejoice as much in the gift of sonship as if He had no fellow. For the gifts of God are not lessened by being communicated to many.
2nd. Although He is not only generally the Father of all, but also of each particularly, He would, nevertheless, be called our Father, to remind us of brotherly charity, without distinction of rank, dignity, or age; to love one another as brothers, and to pray for all in common, despising none. So, speaks Malachias. Have you not all one Father? Has not one God created us? Why, then, does every one of us despise His brother? Yet nothing forbids me at times, as my affection may lead me, thus, to address God in private, because I am within full right His adopted son, as if I were the only one.
Who is in heaven
Although God is in every place, we name heaven in particular,
1st. To excite in ourselves a reverence for His Majesty, which resides in heaven as its throne.
2d. To raise our minds to heaven, where is the home and the inheritance of the sons of God.
3d. That we may understand that here we are exiles and pilgrims, and that we ought to live in such a way that our conversation may be in heaven.
4th. To remind myself, to raise my eyes and my heart, from where my only help shall come to me.
Again? heaven, and the peculiar seat of God, are those holy souls that are raised above the earth, in which God dwells by grace, and specially illuminates them with the light of His knowledge.
After the introduction; now follow the petitions.
1. Hallowed be Your name.
Be esteemed, as You are, holy, pure, just, true, and good. God holds nothing so high as to be esteemed and proclaimed holy. Hence, He so often says. Be holy, because I am holy. Hence, He was angry with Moses and Aaron, because they had not sanctified Him at the waters of contradiction before the children of Israel. Again, the only song of the blessed is, Holy, holy, holy.
- He says not, Your power, or Your majesty, but Your name; to comprehend in one all that is named by us which belongs to God, as being all holy, and to be celebrated accordingly. For He is named almighty, wise, creator, and so forth.
- He says, Your name; for it is Your name only which is holy in itself, where comes the drop of which the just partake. Therefore, not our but Your. To the king eternal, immortal, and invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever; but to us confusion of face. Why, then, do we so anxiously seek our own glory, and a great name, who ought rather to desire to be unknown and despised?
- He says, hallowed: He, simply, with no restriction to particular persons, because we should wish this done by every creature of those that are in heaven, on earth, and under the earth; nor to a particular time, because it is right that the name of the Lord should be praised throughout all time.
- Again, the name of God is hallowed when men believe what He reveals, hope for what He promises, do what He commands, worship Him as He has taught, love Him with their whole heart, and attest their love by their works; that they who see our good deeds may glorify their Father who is m heaven. It is a prayer worthy of a true and virtuous son, to desire nothing before or beyond the glory of His father, and to prefer His honor to all things. Not to us, O Lord, not to us, but to Your name give glory. Blessed be the name of the Lord, from henceforth, now, and forever.
2. Your kingdom, come.
Yet He reigns in heaven and in earth, in the sea, and everywhere; all things, whether they will or not, serve Him, and under His dominion are all things. We pray, therefore,
- For that kingdom, by which He now reigns in the just by grace, who are in all things subject to Him.
- For that by which He reigns in the blessed by glory. This last will come to us if we continue to the end in the former.
- And therefore He says, Your kingdom come, as if of its own accord. And indeed, all long for this last kingdom; but not for the first, because that is connected with hardship. For justice is acquired and preserved by mortification of the flesh, and by restraint of the concupiscence which reigns in our members.
- That kingdom, which shall be consummated and made perfect, when God shall be all in all, in the resurrection of the dead, which the souls of the blessed expect.
- Your kingdom, not the kingdom of the world, which the children of this world seek after, and which consists in nothing but perishable goods, endless cares, and numberless dangers; much less the kingdom of sin, the utter overthrow of which I long for. It is for sons to sigh continually for their country, and, in preference to all other things, to seek their paternal inheritance. Woe is me that my sojourning is prolonged! I desire to He dissolved, and to be with Christ. As the hart pants after the fountains of water, so my soul pants after You, O God.
3. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
- Your will alone is ever good, and just, and perfect, in all things. To the knowledge of this He gently leads us by counsel, by precept, and by inspiration, as well as by the commands of those who are set over us in God’s name. It is enough for us to do His will, that God wills and enjoins what we are to perform, so that if I obey His commandments, I shall merit life, but if otherwise, death.
- Not my will, which is perverse, but Your. Nor yet the flesh’s, which is contrary to the spirit; nor the world’s, which is vain; nor the devil’s, which is malignant; but Your will only, which is the rule of uprightness. For what is Your will but our sanctification? Since You require nothing of us but what is for our benefit; not Yours, for You do not need our goods.
As the will of God is done by the angels in heaven, where there is no rebellion of a perverse will, so also may it be done on earth, perfectly, promptly, speedily, courageously, lovingly, and readily. .
- Teach me, O Lord, to do Your will; for You are my God. Behold, O Lord, I am Your servant. Lord, what will You have me to do? Speak, Lord, for Your servant hears.
4. Give us this day our daily bread.
- The bread of grace and of the word of God. For man does not live by bread alone, but his soul also has need of sustenance. For, as the life of man is twofold, so is the food or bread twofold, whereby he is sustained.
- Chiefly, and principally, the living bread, which came down from heaven, the super-substantial bread of the Eucharist, which strengthens the heart of man, and confirms his spirit.
- Corporal bread, which is necessary for sustaining life; for which, He would not have us solicitous, or over anxious, since He bids us look for it from the divine blessing.
- Our, not my, because it is common, and to be shared among our brethren, who all acknowledge the same God and Father of all; who would have his gifts supply the necessity, not of one, or of a few, but of all.
- Daily: if meant of spiritual food, not that which is the portion of the few singularly beloved, of which I count myself unworthy, but that common and as it were necessary portion, without which we cannot live. If of bodily food, not that which abounds for the supply of luxury and merriment nor to be laid up for many years but for our daily use and necessity.
- Give us; for we must pray for all as our brethren, even although they hate us. Pray for them that persecute and calumniate you. If you see your enemy hungry, feed him.
- This day, because he would have us ask every day, and be always dependent on his providence. He also calls us off from and unnecessary anxiety for tomorrow after the example of the manna which of old was given day by day. The eyes of all hope in You, O Lord. Give them food in due season. Open Your hand and fill with blessing every living creature.
5. Forgive us our debts, as we also forgive our debtors
- Many are the debts we owe to God: in many things we offend all, both by evil done, and by good left undone, which we ought to have done. Unless God of His mercy forgives us, who can endure? If He will deal with us in the rigor of justice, who will answer one of a thousand? So that our only refuge is His mercy.
- But this will fail us, if we do not forgive our neighbors their offences, which are small, however, compared with our debt of ten thousand talents, which we owe to God. Yet such is the goodness of God, that He is ready to forgive ten thousand, if we remit the thousand.
- But see and beware. He will forgive as You as you forgive and this conditional clause you add to Your prayer. If You forgive grudgingly, slowly, insincerely, and imperfectly, expect and fear to receive the same measure from God. He merely pronounces sentence against himself, who asks for his debts to be forgiven him, while he does not forgive his own debtors, and that from his heart! If You will mark iniquities, O Lord, Lord, who shall endure it?
6. And Lead us Not into temptation.
We do not pray not to be tempted, because it is often good for us to be so, and God therefore wisely permits it. But we pray not to yield to temptation, and. also that He may not suffer us to be tempted, when He sees that we shall give way. Temptation is often the occasion and ground for the exercise of virtue; but it belongs to God so to moderate temptation, and to help our weakness, that we may not be tempted above that we are able but may come off unhurt. Prove me, O Lord, and try me; burn my reins and my heart and see if there is in me the way of iniquity and lead me in the eternal way.
7. But deliver us from evil.
From evils of every kind. As the Church prays in the Mass: Deliver us, O Lord, we beseech You, from all evils, past, present, and to come; that is, temporal and eternal, both of soul and body.
Secondly, from the evil one; that is, the malignant spirit; that He may have no power of exercising His envy and malice upon us.
Not only those things which influence the soul are here reckoned as evils; but those also which so affect the body, the fortune, and the character, that evil and injury may be feared from them also to the soul. Though I should walk in the midst of the shadow of death, I will fear no evils, for You are with me. Enlighten mine eyes, that I may never sleep in death, lest at any time my enemy say, I have prevailed against Him.
8. Amen. So be it, so be it.
This should be pronounced with fervent desire. For the Lord hath heard the desire of the poor. Likewise, with great confidence, as asking those things which He has enjoined us to pray for. As St. John says: This is our confidence which we have towards God, that, whatsoever we shall ask according to His will, He hears us, and we know that we have the petitions which we request of Him. (From Paradise of the Soul printed 1880)
Revised by Karrol 2018