PART IV: CHRISTIAN PRAYER
Section Two: The Lord’s Prayer, “Our Father”
Article 3, The Seven Petitions (cont’d)
§ 2804 The first series of petitions carries us toward him, for his own sake: thy Name, thy Kingdom, thy will! It is characteristic of love to think first of the One whom we love. In none of the three petitions do we mention ourselves; the burning desire, even anguish, of the Beloved Son for His Father’s Glory seizes us (cf. Luke 22:44; 12:50): “hallowed be thy name, thy kingdom come, thy will be done…” These three supplications were already answered in the saving sacrifice of Christ, but they are henceforth directed in hope toward their final fulfillment, for God is not yet all in all (cf. 1 Corinthians 15:28).
§ 2805 The second series of petitions unfolds with the same movement as certain Eucharistic epicleses [invocations of the Holy Spirit]: as an offering up of our expectations, that draws down upon itself the eyes of the Father of mercies. They go up from us and concern us from this very moment, in our present world: “give us… forgive us… lead us not… deliver us…” The fourth and fifth petitions concern our life as such—to be fed and to be healed of sin; the last two concern our battle for the victory of life—that battle of prayer.
§ 2806 By the first three petitions, we are strengthened in faith, filled with hope, and set aflame by charity. Being creatures and still sinners, we have to petition for us, for that “us” bound by the world and history, which we offer to the boundless Love of God. For through the Name of His Christ and the reign of His Holy Spirit, our Father accomplishes His plan of salvation, for us and for the whole world.
I. “Hallowed Be Thy Name”
§ 2807 The term “to hallow” is to be understood here not primarily in its causative sense (only God hallows, makes holy), but above all in an evaluative sense: to recognize as holy, to treat in a holy way. And so, in adoration, this invocation is sometimes understood as praise and thanksgiving (cf. Psalms 111:9; Lk 1:49). But this petition is here taught to us by Jesus as an optative: a petition, a desire, and an expectation in which God and man are involved.
Beginning with this first petition to our Father, we are immersed in the innermost mystery of His Godhead and the drama of the salvation of our humanity. Asking the Father that His Name be made holy draws us into His plan of loving kindness for the fullness of time, “according to his purpose which he set forth in Christ,” that we might “be holy and blameless before him in love” (Ephesians 1:9, 4).
§ 2808 In the decisive moments of His economy [His plan for our salvation], God reveals His Name, but He does so by accomplishing His work. This work, then, is realized for us and in us only if His Name is hallowed by us and in us.
Tomorrow – “Hallowed Be Thy Name” (to be continued)
(Part IV, Section 2, Article 3 – to be continued)
[Editor’s Note: The abbreviation in today’s posting is noted below.]
- “cf.” – “confer [compare or refer to]”