PART IV: CHRISTIAN PRAYER
Section Two: The Lord’s Prayer, “Our Father” (cont’d)
Article 2, “Our Father Who Art in Heaven”
I. “We Dare to Say”
§ 2777 In the Roman Liturgy, the Eucharistic assembly is invited to pray to our Heavenly Father with filial boldness; the Eastern Liturgies develop and use similar expressions: “dare in all confidence,” “make us worthy of…” From the burning bush, Moses heard a voice saying to him, “Do not come near; put off your shoes from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground” (Exodus 3:5). Only Jesus could cross that threshold of the Divine Holiness, for “when he had made purification for sins,” He brought us into the Father’s Presence: “Here am I, and the children God has given me” (Hebrews 1:3; 2:13).
- “Our awareness of our status as slaves would make us sink into the ground and our earthly condition would dissolve into dust, if the authority of our Father Himself and the Spirit of His Son had not impelled us to this cry… ‘Abba, Father!’ …When would a mortal dare call God ‘Father,’ if man’s innermost being were not animated by power from On High?” (Ser 71, 3: PL 52, 401CD; cf. Galatians 4:6).
§ 2778 This power of the Spirit who introduces us to the Lord’s Prayer is expressed in the Liturgies of East and of West by the beautiful, characteristically Christian expression: parrhesia, straightforward simplicity, filial trust, joyous assurance, humble boldness, the certainty of being loved (cf. Ephesians 3:12; Heb 3:6; 4:16; 10:19; 1 John 2:28; 3:21; 5:14).
§ 2779 Before we make our own this first exclamation of the Lord’s Prayer, we must humbly cleanse our hearts of certain false images drawn “from this world.” Humility makes us recognize that “no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him,” that is, “to little children” (Matthew 11:25-27).
The purification of our hearts has to do with paternal or maternal images, stemming from our personal and cultural history, and influencing our relationship with God. God our Father transcends the categories of the created world. To impose our own ideas in this area “upon Him” would be to fabricate idols to adore or pull down. To pray to the Father is to enter into His Mystery as He is and as the Son has revealed Him to us.
- “The expression ‘God the Father’ had never been revealed to anyone. When Moses himself asked God who He was, he heard another Name. The Father’s Name has been revealed to us in the Son, for the Name “Son” implies the new Name ‘Father’” (DeO 3: PL 1, 1155).
Tomorrow – “Father!” (to be continued)
(Part IV, Section 2, Article 2 – to be continued)
[Editor’s Note: The abbreviations in today’s posting are noted below.]
- “cf.” – “confer [compare or refer to]”
- “DeO” – Tertullian, “De Oratione [Prayer]”
- “PL” – “Patrologia Latina [Latin Patrology]”, an enormous collection of writings of the Church Fathers and other ecclesiastical writers in the Latin language published by J. P. Migne, (Paris, 1841‑1855 A.D.)
- “Ser” – St. Peter Chrysologus, “Sermones [Sermons]”