The Lord’s Prayer

Lecturer’s Report for May 9, 2019

I offer many thanks to Mike McCray for his outstanding insights over the last few years. It will be hard to continue his level of inspiration.

Over the next few meetings I hope to dive deep into “The Lord’s Prayer,” the Our Father. It is a very profound prayer given to us by our Lord that we might sometimes rifle through without much thought. Today I will give you a brief overview. Evangelists Matthew and Luke recorded the Lord’s Prayer, but Mathew has the version closest to what we pray at Mass.

St. Thomas Aquinas says, “…the Lord's Prayer contains all that we ought to desire and all that we ought to avoid. Now, of all desirable things, that must be most desired which is most loved, and that is God.

The Lord’s Prayer hardly begins without a most amazing and bold statement, “Our Father!” In these two words we are told that we are sons and daughters of the Most High.

Further, “Thy will be done,” is a most efficacious prayer. All of our needs are met with the prayer, “Give us this day or daily bread.”

“As we forgive those who trespass against us,” how can we utter this truthfully?

The Lord seems to be a contrarian when he says, “Lead us not into temptation,” but Aquinas says this is because temptation is so contrary to all that is good. “Deliver us from evil,” reinforces our hope in God’s deliverance.

Again, I hope to dive deeper into the Lord’s Prayer in the months to come, but I will close with a quote from one of my favorite saints, Therese of Lisieux, “Sometimes when I am in such a state of spiritual dryness that not a single good thought occurs to me, I say very slowly the ‘Our Father,’ or the ‘Hail Mary,’ and these prayers suffice to take me out of myself, and wonderfully refresh me.


June 13, 2019

Let’s continue our meditation on the Lord’s Prayer beginning with the opening phrase, “Our Father who art in Heaven!”

During Mass the priest always begins the Lord’s Prayer by saying, “At the Savior’s command and formed by divine teaching we dare to say:” What is so daring? In saying “Our Father” we claim to be sons (and daughters) of God. This is a very big deal. No other religion on earth claims this. Muslims are indignant that we do. Jews only hint at this connection in the Old Testament. Jesus was persecuted and ultimately killed because of this claim. Fr. Jay Kythe from Benedictine Abbey says in their newsletter that like Jesus, we dare to call God “Abba, Father.”

If God is our father then Jesus is our brother. If we are Jesus’ brothers and sisters then Mary is our mother and Joseph is our father. This gives all of us special recourse to their intercessions. But Fr. Jay says that a key word is “our”; we pray Our Father, not my Father. Even when we are alone, we must pray in unison with our brothers and sisters. We are one family in Jesus Christ.

As sons of God we are not slaves or mere subjects but rather heirs to the Kingdom. If Jesus is king then we are princes because we are his brothers and sisters. Being an heir is a big deal. It is almost a guarantee we go to Heaven. But because we can mess things up, we must guard this inheritance. Thankfully, with His grace and mercy we get a great deal of help.

Bishop Barron tempers our claim to son-ship when he talks about the next part of the phrase, “who art in Heaven.” Heaven being “somewhere” else kind of gives God a little distance from us. We know that there is still good news to be had because we have the third person of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit who dwells within us, connecting us with the Trinity, and providing us with untold grace and mercy. Come Holy Spirit come!

Tonight or tomorrow, meditate on this idea of “Our Father.” And as St. Therese of Lisieux says, pray the prayer very slowly, and let your son-ship sink in.


July 11

Let’s meditate on the next phrases of The Lord’s Prayer, “Hallowed be thy name, Thy kingdom come…”

The New American Bible has a footnote saying that hallowed be thy name is probably a petition that God hallow his own name, manifest his power and establish his kingdom in its fullness. It also suggests that it could mean what most of us have come to believe, that we worship, honor, and glorify His name. Bishop Robert Barron says hollowing recognizes that God is in the highest, He is the most high.

Father Jay says, “My name means nothing without Your Name.” Then why do we use His Name in vain? We shatter our own dignity when we take His Name in vain. Fr. Jay prays, “Help us, teach us, show us how to honor You and one another that we not kill with our tongues.”

Thy kingdom come! Fr. Jay suggests we overcome our petty little kingdoms of pride by letting God’s kingdom overthrow ours. The word come suggests that God is moving toward us. Indeed, Jesus established the kingdom here among us. He established the Church and we are the Church. If this is true then we are part of His kingdom.

What is the kingdom? Bishop Barron defines it like this, “a body formed by those who participate in Him, who share His relationship with the Father.” Mike Scherschligt says that relationship with the Father is love. The kingdom of heaven is love. We come forward bringing the kingdom of heaven here on earth when we love others as God loves us.

Possibly the simplest explanation is actually from Aquinas, “that you may arrive at eternal life… you pray ... "Thy kingdom come."

Remember, as St. Therese of Lisieux says, spend some time, slowly praying and meditating on each word and phrase of this model prayer, The Lord’s Prayer.