Friday, October 22, 2004

Putting the "Our" in Our Father

As many times as I have prayed the "Our Father" (aka the Lord's Prayer), this had never occurred to me. No wonder St. Teresa said she almost could never get past the first two words. It is not just personal, which always was my way of thinking when praying this, but also about community. There's something that adds a whole new dimension to meditation over the prayer that God Himself gave to us.
One of the greatest of all mysteries is contained in that first little word, our. It is the mystery of solidarity, the mystery of the Mystical Body. Each individual who prays this prayer is to call God not only "my" Father but "our Father". Each individual is to pray in the name of the whole Church. When you pray the Our Father, all the presence and power of the Mystical Body of Christ is praying with you, helping you. God sees you praying alongside the Pope and Mother Teresa and Jake Grubb (never heard of him? God did!) and Saint Francis and Saint Augustine and Saint Peter and the Blessed Virgin Mary herself. For none are dead or past to God, the eternal contemporary. (See Luke 20:37-38) Solidarity is a fact, not an ideal. Each believer is an organ in his body. Saint Paul says, "If one member [organ] suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together. Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it."

Therefore we are each responsible for all, when we work and when we pray. This is not just a pious feeling but an awesome fact. When I pray, I have effects on my grandchildren, on some stranger I have never met, on the most abandoned soil in the world. When I bake an act of charity in the oven of the Church, that is bread to some starving soul across the world. My prayer or work, ascending like mist today, in this place and time, will come down like rain at some other place and time, whither God directs it, where thirsty soil needs it most. Just as my money can really save lives in Ethiopia, my prayer can really save souls in China or Purgatory. Spiritual transportation systems are just as real and just as effective as physical ones, for the spiritual universe is just as real and just as much one, just as much a uni-verse, as the physical universe; and its connecting thread, its spiritual gravity, is just as strong, as subtle, and as pervasive as physical gravity.

Peter Kreeft, Fundamentals of the Faith

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