An Explanation of the “Pater Noster — Our Father.”

INTRODUCTION

The Our Father (in Latin Pater Noster) is the best known prayers of Christianity. Because it is of divine origin, it is the only perfect prayer, and is the synthesis of the entire Gospel, being the principal Christian prayer of the Church.

It is called the “Our Father” from the initial words of prayer, or the “Lord’s Prayer” (or “dominical prayer”). According to the account in the Gospel according to Luke 11:1, the prayer was taught by Jesus to his apostles when, on the occasion of a time when he had retired in prayer, the apostles themselves asked him “Lord, teach us to pray just as John taught his disciples”.

The context in which Jesus expounded the Our Father is in response to — the Jews and Gentiles — who translated this prayer, as with charity, not merely into an external act. The Lord’s prayer is a means against the wrong structure and method of praying, St. Matthew tells us “when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, who love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on street corners so that others may see them. Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you pray, go to your inner room, close the door, and pray to your Father in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will repay you. In praying, do not babble like the pagans, who think that they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them. Your Father knows what you need before you ask him.(Matthew 6:5-8).

Here begins the Praises to our Lord God reciting this prayer at all hours of the day and at night and before reciting the Office of the most Blessed Virgin Mary. The recitation begins in this manner: “Our Father, most holy,” which is followed by the Gloria Patri: “Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost. As it was in the beginning, and now, and always, and into the ages of ages. Amen” followed by the praise (Tersanctus): “Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God of Hosts. Heaven and Earth are full of your Glory. Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord. Hosanna in the Highest.”

N.B.: Matthew’s form of the “Our Father” follows the liturgical tradition of his church. Luke’s less developed form also represents the liturgical tradition known to him, but it is probably closer than Matthew’s to the original words of Jesus.

Gesu insegna gli apostoli

Our Father: most holy, our Creator, Redeemer, Saviour and Comforter. 

Who is in heaven: with the angels and with the saints, illuminating them and giving them knowledge, for You are the Light, O Lord; animating them to love, for You, O Love, are Love; dwelling within them and filling them with happiness, for You are, O Lord, the infinite Good, eternal goodness, from where all good flows and without whom no good can exists. 

Hallowed be Your Name [He manifest his glory by an act of power (Ezekiel 36:23)]: that You may dwell in our hearts through faith; that we, rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the holy ones what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that we may be filled with all the fullness of God. (Ephesians 3:17-19) 

Your kingdom come: so that You may reign within us by Your grace and may make us enter into Your kingdom, where You are clearly seen, where there is only perfect love of You, Your blessed companionship and eternal comfort for us. 

Your will be done, on earth as in heaven: How we love You with all our heart, thinking always of You, our entire soul always yearning for You, all of our mind directing all of our thoughts towards You, seeking Your righteousness in everything, and with all our strength submitting our mind and our sense of soul and body to the obedience of Your love alone: let us love our neighbour as ourselves, as best we can let us gather the whole world to the love of You, let us rejoice at the good of others as though it were our own, let us sympathise on misfortune and never ever offend anyone. 

Give us today our daily bread: Your beloved Son our Lord Jesus Christ, to remind us of and to make us understand, marvel at and praise the love which He has for all of us, all He has said, done and suffered for us. 

And forgive us our debts [‘sins’ against, ‘debts owed’ to God. See Luke 11:4]: By Your overwhelming mercy, in virtue of the Passion of Your beloved Son our Lord Jesus Christ, through the goodness and intercession of the Mother of Mercy, Cause of our Salvation most Blessed Ever Virgin Mary and all of Your elect. 

As we forgive our debtors: And as we do not fully forgive, grant, O Lord, that we may forgive completely, that we may truly love our enemies for Your sake, that we may pray to You devoutly for them and on their behalf, that we may never contribute to evil for evil to anyone, and that we may always endeavour to be useful toward humanity for Your sake. 

And do not subject us to the final test: [a period of severe trial before the end of the age this petition asks that the disciples be spared from temptation]: hidden or manifest, sudden or importunate. 

But deliver us from the evil one [The verses reflect a pattern called the “Principles of Holy Law.” Human action now will be met by a corresponding action of God at the final judgment], past, present and to come. Amen. 

If you forgive others their transgressions, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your transgressions.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost. As it was in the beginning, and now, and always, and into the ages of ages. Amen. 

Concluding Prayer

Almighty and Sovereign God, Most Holy and Most High, You are Supreme Goodness and Universal Goodness, absolute Good, who alone is Good, we offer You all our praise, all glory, all deeds of grace, all honour, all blessing, and we give You thanks continually for all the good which exists. Amen 

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