PART IV: CHRISTIAN PRAYER
Section Two: The Lord’s Prayer, “Our Father”
Article 3, The Seven Petitions
IV. “Give Us This Day Our Daily Bread” (cont’d)
§ 2834 “Pray and work” (cf. Reg 20, 48). “Pray as if everything depended on God and work as if everything depended on you” (Attributed to St. Ignatius Loyola, cf. Joseph de Guibert, SJ, “The Jesuits: Their Spiritual Doctrine and Practice”, 148, n.55). Even when we have done our work, the food we receive is still a gift from our Father; it is good to ask Him for it and to thank Him, as Christian families do when saying grace at meals.
§ 2835 This petition, with the responsibility it involves, also applies to another hunger from which men are perishing: “Man does not live by bread alone, but…by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God” (Deuteronomy 8:3; Matthew 4:4), that is, by the Word He speaks and the Spirit He breathes forth. Christians must make every effort “to proclaim the good news to the poor.” There is a famine on Earth, “not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the LORD” (Amos 8:11). For this reason, the specifically Christian sense of this fourth petition concerns the Bread of Life: The Word of God accepted in faith, the Body of Christ received in the Eucharist (cf. John 6:26-58).
§ 2836 “This day” is also an expression of trust taught us by the Lord (cf. Mt 6:34; Exodus 16:19), which we would never have presumed to invent. Since it refers above all to His Word and to the Body of His Son, this “today” is not only that of our mortal time, but also the “today” of God.
- “If you receive the bread each day, each day is today for you. If Christ is yours today, He rises for you every day. How can this be? ‘You are my Son, today I have begotten you.’ Therefore, ‘today’ is when Christ rises” (DeS 5, 4, 26: PL 16, 453A; cf. Psalm 2:7).
§ 2837 “Daily” (epiousios) occurs nowhere else in the New Testament. Taken in a temporal sense, this word is a pedagogical [educational] repetition of “this day” (cf. Ex 16:19-21), to confirm us in trust “without reservation.” Taken in the qualitative sense, it signifies what is necessary for life, and more broadly every good thing sufficient for subsistence (cf. 1 Timothy 6:8). Taken literally (epi-ousios: “super-essential”), it refers directly to the Bread of Life, the Body of Christ, the “medicine of immortality,” without which we have no life within us (EAE 20, 2: PG 5, 661; Jn 6:53-56).
Finally, in this connection, its heavenly meaning is evident: “this day” is the Day of the Lord, the day of the Feast of the Kingdom, anticipated in the Eucharist that is already the foretaste of the Kingdom to come. For this reason, it is fitting for the Eucharistic Liturgy to be celebrated each day.
- “The Eucharist is our daily bread. The power belonging to this Divine food makes it a bond of union. Its effect is then understood as unity, so that, gathered into His Body and made members of Him, we may become what we receive…This also is our daily bread: the Readings you hear each day in church and the hymns you hear and sing. All these are necessities for our pilgrimage” (Serm 57, 7: PL 38, 389).
- “The Father in Heaven urges us, as children of Heaven, to ask for the Bread of Heaven. [Christ] Himself is the Bread who, sown in the Virgin, raised up in the flesh, kneaded in the Passion, baked in the oven of the tomb, reserved in churches, brought to altars, furnishes the faithful each day with food from Heaven (Ser 67: PL 52, 392; cf. Jn 6:51).
Tomorrow – “And Forgive Us Our Trespasses, as We Forgive Those Who Trespass Against Us”
(Part IV, Section 2, Article 3 – to be continued)
[Editor’s Note: The abbreviations in today’s posting are noted below.]
- “cf.” – “confer [compare or refer to]”
- “DeS” – St. Ambrose, “De Sacramentis [Of the Sacraments]”
- “EAE” – St. Ignatius of Antioch, “Epistula ad Ephesios [Letter to the Ephesians]”
- “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.)
- “Reg” – St. Benedict, “Regula [Rule]”
- “Ser” – St. Peter Chrysologus, “Sermones [Sermons]”
- “Serm” – St. Augustine, “Sermones [Sermons]”