for the common body

In the Gospel of Luke [Lk 11:2-4] Jesus responds to his disciples request to teach them how to pray. Luke writes a much abbreviated version from that of Matthew {6:9-13] which is the form that we are most familiar. While one could argue that the beatitudes are prayer, the Lord’s Prayer is quite unique in its form and substance as a true and perfect offering of prayer to God, our Father. While Jesus often went away to be alone and pray, we know little or nothing of what he prayed. The Lord’s Prayer is the only prayer that Jesus taught us.

Saint Thomas Aquinas wrote that “The Lord’s Prayer is the most perfect of prayers… In it we ask, not only for all the things we can rightly desire, but also in the sequence that they should be desired. This prayer not only teaches us to ask for things, but also in what order we should desire them.

The Lord’s Prayer is, perhaps, the most recited prayer for all Christians. As Catholics we pray it within every Mass, multiple times when we pray the rosary, and on many other occasions. We know it so thoroughly and through countless repetition, mindlessly repeat its words with little or no thought to what we are saying. And when we finish, seldom do we even consider what we have just prayed?

The Lord’s Prayer is the perfect communal prayer. It is not, and never has been, a private prayer, but a prayer professed together in communion with our brothers and sisters. Say or read the prayer and you will discover that there are no singular pronouns to be found. No “I”, no “me”, no “my, no “mine”, only “our”, “us”, and “we”. When we pray “Our Father…” we are praying in unity with our brothers and sisters, all created by God in His image and likeness. We do not pray alone but united as one body, one creation of God, for God, to God.

St. John Chrystostom tells us that “[The Lord] teaches us to make prayer in common for all our brethren. For he did not say ‘My’ Father who are in heaven, but ‘Our’ Father, offering petitions for the common body.

Jesus taught us that the greatest commandment is to love God with all our heart, with all our mind, and with all our soul and that we must love one another as our self. The measure with which we love one another and to the extent which we can forgive one another is the measure and extent to which we love God. We can only ask God to forgive us to the extent that we forgive others. Without forgiveness toward others we cannot ask God to forgive us. After all, it is what we say when we pray to Our Father, isn’t it?

Deacon Chuck

About the author: Deacon Chuck

Deacon Chuck was ordained into the permanent diaconate on September 17, 2011, in the ministry of service to the Diocese of Reno and assigned to St. Albert the Great Catholic Community. He currently serves as the parish bulletin editor and website administrator. Deacon Chuck continues to serve the parish of Saint Albert the Great Catholic Community of the Diocese of Reno, Nevada. He is the Director of Adult Faith Formation and Homebound Ministries for the parish, conducts frequent adult faith formation workshops, and is a regular homilist. He currently serves as the bulletin editor for the parish bulletin. He writes a weekly column intended to encompass a broad landscape of thoughts and ideas on matters of theology, faith, morals, teachings of the magisterium and the Catholic Church; they are meant to illuminate, illustrate, and catechize the readers and now number more than 230 articles. His latest endeavor is "Colloqui: A journal for restless minds", a weekly journal of about 8 pages similar in content to bulletin reflections. All his reflections, homilies, commentaries, and Colloqui are posted and can be found on his website: http://deaconscorner.org. Comments are always welcome and appreciated. He is the author of two books: "The Voices of God: hearing God in the silence" which offers the reader insights into how to hear God’s voice through all of the noise that surrounds us; and "Echoes of Love: Effervescent Memories" which through a combination of prose and verse provides the reader with a wonderful journey on the way to discovering forever love. He regularly speaks to groups of all ages and size and would welcome the opportunity to speak to your group.

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