PART IV: CHRISTIAN PRAYER
Section Two: The Lord’s Prayer, “Our Father”
Article 2, “Our Father Who Art in Heaven”
III. “Our” Father (cont’d)
§ 2793 The baptized cannot pray to “our” Father without bringing before Him all those for whom He gave His Beloved Son. God’s Love has no bounds, neither should our prayer (cf. NA 5). Praying “our” Father opens to us the dimensions of His Love revealed in Christ: praying with and for all who do not yet know Him, so that Christ may “gather into one the children of God” (John 11:52). God’s care for all men and for the whole of creation has inspired all the great practitioners of prayer; it should extend our prayer to the full breadth of love whenever we dare to say “our” Father.
IV. “Who Art in Heaven”
§ 2794 This Biblical expression does not mean a place (“space”), but a way of being; it does not mean that God is distant, but Majestic. Our Father is not “elsewhere”: He transcends everything we can conceive of His Holiness. It is precisely because He is Thrice-Holy that He is so close to the humble and contrite heart.
- “‘Our Father who art in Heaven’ is rightly understood to mean that God is in the hearts of the just, as in His Holy Temple. At the same time, it means that those who pray should desire the One they invoke to dwell in them” (SDM 2, 5, 18: PL 34, 1277).
- “‘Heaven” could also be those who bear the image of the Heavenly world, and in whom God dwells and tarries” (CM 5:11: PG 33, 1117).
§ 2795 The symbol of the heavens refers us back to the mystery of the covenant we are living when we pray to “our” Father. He is in Heaven, His dwelling place; the Father’s House is our Homeland. Sin has exiled us from the land of the covenant (cf. Genesis 3), but conversion of heart enables us to return to the Father, to Heaven (Jeremiah 3:19-4:1a; Luke 15:18, 21). In Christ, then, Heaven and Earth are reconciled (cf. Isaiah 45:8; Psalms 85:12), for the Son alone “descended from Heaven” and causes us to ascend there with Him, by His Cross, Resurrection, and Ascension (Jn 3:13; 12:32; 14:2-3; 16:28; 20:17; Ephesians 4:9-10; Hebrews 1:3; 2:13).
Tomorrow – “Who Art in Heaven” (to be continued), In Brief & Article 3, The Seven Petitions
(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]”
- “CM” – St. Cyril of Jerusalem, “Catecheses Mystagogicae [Catechesis of Mystagogy (Mysteries of the faith)]”
- “NA” – Pope St. Paul VI (Oct 1965), “Nostra Aetate [In Our Time]”, Vatican Council II (Relation of the Church to Non-Christian Religions)
- “PG” – “Patrologia Graeca [Greek Patrology]”, an enormous collection of writings of the Church Fathers and other ecclesiastical writers in the Greek language published by J. P. Migne, (Paris, 1857‑1866 A.D.)
- “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.)
- “SDM” – St. Augustine, “De Sermone Domini in Monte [The Lord’s Sermon on the Mount]”