Immersed in Christ
Experiencing the Mass: Rite of Communion - The Lord's Prayer
Tuesday, January 31, 2023
by Fr. David M. Knight
View readings for today:
Dear Readers: Since the Church is presently engaged in a Eucharistic Revival, we thought it would be helpful to post excerpts from his booklet called Experiencing the Mass, for the next few weeks. (This is not a sales pitch. However, the booklet is available for order on this website for $5 per copy if you would like have a copy.)
In the Lord’s Prayer a petition is made for daily food,
which for Christians means preeminently the eucharistic bread...
The Rite of Communion begins with the Our Father. All of its petitions are asking for the “end time” when Christ will return in glory and the goal of his mission will be perfectly achieved. They sum up what we have focused on in the Mass so far:
The first petition: “Father in heaven, hallowed be thy name” asks for the day when the Father will be known and loved by all of redeemed humanity as he is in himself; that is, not only as Creator but as Father. This is the fulfillment of God’s “plan for the fullness of time, to gather up all things in Christ,” when “all of us [will have] become one in faith and in the knowledge of God’s Son, and form that perfect man who is Christ come to full stature.” This is the first mystery of Baptism: that by sharing in the gift of divine life, the “grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, we all “become Christ,” and in him “sons and daughters of the Father.” It is for this new identity that we give God praise and thanksgiving in the Introductory Rites.
When we pray, “hallowed be thy name,” we are obviously asking, not just that others will know and love the Father, but that we ourselves, by knowing him more and more perfectly, will grow into the fullness of the divine life we have received. Jesus said, “This is eternal life, that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.” This petition implants in us more deeply the desire to “devote ourselves to the apostles’ teaching” as disciples in the Liturgy of the Word.
The second petition: “Thy Kingdom come!” asks for God’s reign to be established within every heart and throughout the world. This was the “headline proclamation” in the preaching of both John the Baptizer and Jesus: “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near. Repent, and believe in the good news.” By the very fact of asking for this, we dedicate ourselves to making it happen. This petition is the cry of our commitment to continuing the mission of Jesus. We express this dedication in the mature reaffirmation of our Baptism, when we pledge ourselves to bear witness to the Good News as prophets during the Presentation of Gifts.
The third petition: “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven” reminds us that God’s will does not always appear as evidently good and desirable to us on earth as it does to God in heaven. Jesus himself experienced this in the garden of Gethsemane, when it cost him blood and tears to say to the Father, ”Your will be done.” We recoil, as Peter did, before the human pain of redemption through the cross. But to share with Jesus in the work of redemption we must accept our baptismal consecration as “priests in the Priest and victims in the Victim.” We do this by uniting ourselves to Jesus in his sacrifice during the Eucharistic Prayer, offering our bodies as a “living sacrifice”; surrendering our “flesh for the life of the world” to let Jesus express himself through our physical words and actions. This is a true “dying to self.” And it is ministry.
The fourth and fifth petitions are looking forward to heaven, asking for the Bread of the heavenly banquet, the “wedding banquet of the Lamb”: “Give us this day our [future] Bread.” This Bread is Jesus himself, the joy of the wedding feast, our joy here and hereafter, now and forever. In this petition and the next: “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive…” we are focusing all our desire on union with—on knowledge, love and enjoyment of—Jesus himself. Jesus is our daily desire.
We are not speaking about an individualistic, one-on-one relationship. We ask for union with Jesus in communion with the rest of humanity, with all the other members of his redeemed body, both on earth and in heaven. This will be a reality when forgiveness will be complete; when the Father is “forgiving us our trespasses” while “we forgive” one another as completely as he does. This is a necessary requirement, because heaven is a communal beatitude. The image Jesus used to describe it is a banquet. We pray for that banquet to come, and in these two petitions center our desires every day on its two components: union with Jesus, the Bread of Life, and communion with others in perfect, universal forgiveness and reconciliation: the “peace and unity” of the Kingdom.
The sixth and seventh petitions: “And lead us not into temptation (or “into hard testing”; “subject us not to the trial”) but deliver us from evil” recognize that evil does not give up without a struggle — especially a final struggle against the final and total triumph of the “grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
This triumph takes place on both the individual and cosmic levels. On the cosmic level the victory is called the “Parousia,” Christ’s return in glory. On the individual level it is called the “grace of final perseverance,” and consists essentially in saying “Yes” to death, leaving all we experience as life on this earth and abandoning ourselves willingly, with faith, hope and love made perfect, into the hands of the Father: “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.”
In the “Lord’s Prayer” we recall Christ’s priorities and affirm them as our own.
See the Catechism of the Catholic Church, nos. 2759 to 2865; especially 2771-2772, 2788, 2796, 2804. The explanation that follows relies on Fr. Raymond Brown’s “The Pater Noster As An Eschatological Prayer” in New Testament Essays, published by Bruce Publishing Co., 1965; republished by Doubleday, Image Books, 1968. Ephesians 1:10, 4:13; Acts 2:41. See Catechism of the Catholic Church, nos. 795-796; 2782-2784; 2813-2815. John 17:3. Matthew 3:2, 4:17; Mark 1:5; Luke:4:43. See Catechism of the Catholic Church, nos. 2818, 2819. Matthew 16:21-22 and 26:42. See Catechism of the Catholic Church, nos. 2824. 2825.  For this explanation of “daily bread,” see Raymond Brown, op, cit., pages 301-308. Compare with the Catechism of the Catholic Church, no 2837. The General Instruction of the Roman Missal, no.81, says that “in the Lord’s Prayer, daily food is prayed for, which for Christians means preeminently the Eucharistic bread….” For “as we forgive,” see Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 2842.  Luke 23:46. Some unite these and count six petitions in the Our Father. For “final perseverance” see Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 2849. For “Deliver us” see 2851, 2853. For Parousia see the Reflection for the Thirty-second Sunday od Year A: In Matthew 25:1-13, Jesus is speaking primarily of the parousia, from the Greek par-eimi, to “be there.” It can mean “presence” or “coming.” In Scripture, it refers essentially to the Lord’s coming, the arrival or “advent” of the Day of the Lord, Christ’s return in glory (see Léon-Dufour, Dictionary of the New Testament). When we pray during the Rite of Communion at Mass — “as we wait in joyful hope for the coming (adventum) of our Savior” — this is what we are speaking of. Jesus, in this parable, is telling us to let the light of wisdom keep us always aware of and longing for his coming — both at the end of the world and in every moment of our lives when he comes to us through inspirations and movements of our heart. Jesus told this parable in the context of urging us to faithful stewardship. Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour. Who then is the faithful and wise slave, whom his master has put in charge of his household, to give the other slaves their allowance of food at the proper time? Blessed is that slave whom his master will find at work when he arrives. Truly I tell you, he will put that one in charge of all his possessions (Matthew 24: 44-47. See also Matthew 25: 14-29; Luke 12:42-46; Revelation 3: 1-3).
Reflections brought to you by the Immersed in Christ Ministry