The Catholic Faith in Slow Motion (No. 7)
“Hallowed Be Thy Name”
“Our Father” is not a generic name for God used by all faiths and religions. It is Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who reveals to us his Father in heaven, and brings us into relationship with him. And so, as the Liturgy teaches us, “At the Saviors command and formed by divine teaching, we dare to say, “Our Father . . . . That was the gist of my first reflection on the Lord's Prayer (02-17-13).
Hallowed be thy name . . .
The words are not only a declaration. They are a plea, a petition, the first petition of the Lord's Prayer. We ask God that he may keep holy his Name in our hearts, in our actions, in our words. We ask that he may teach us how to hallow his Name in the world. Why? Because if the Name of God is not hallowed, all that is right and good and lovely and innocent withers and dies. But the day that God's Name is finally and perfectly hallowed will be the day of our salvation.
And there is something else, something that has to do with love. When we love and admire someone who is particularly good and honorable, we long for their goodness to be known by others. We long that they may finally get the credit they deserve. We delight when they are recognized and praised. Every thing Jesus did and said was for the sake of honoring his Father. Jesus would teach us to be true children of his Father, who long for our Father to be honored.
Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. . . .
This is a continuation of the first petition. Once again, Jesus would have us pray this prayer with him. We know that this was his constant prayer. His will was entirely united with the will of his Father. “Father, not my will, but your will be done” (Mat. 26:36-39).
To pray for the coming of God's kingdom is to pray for the end of the old world and the coming of the new world. Only God can so transform history, only the Creator can “re-create”. But if we struggle now to do his will on earth as it is done in heaven, then we are living the new life ahead of time; we are dying to the old and living for the new. We die to selfishness to live for the good of others; we die to the old world of lust to live for love; we die to the old god of the self to live for our Father in heaven. In this way the whole of our life become a prayer: Thy kingdom come. And we are no longer afraid of the dying of the old world.
C. S. Lewis said that in praying this petition, “Thy will be one on earth as it is in heaven,” he learned to pay more attention to those who were beautiful examples of holiness. And he learned to pray, “Let thy will be done in my life as it is done in their life.” This is the way the Our Father works in us. Each petition is personally particularized in our hearts. The way of prayer becomes the way of life.
We will think more about this continuity of prayer and life as we continue our reflections on the Our Father.
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