a letter to Proba by Saint Augustine, bishop
On the Lords Prayer
e need to use words
so that we may remind ourselves to consider carefully what we are asking, not so
that we may think we can instruct the Lord or prevail on him.
Thus, when we say: Hallowed
be your name, we are reminding ourselves to desire that his name, which
in fact is always holy, should also be considered holy among men. I mean
that it should not be held in contempt. But
this is a help for men, not for God.
as for our saying: Your kingdom come, it will surely come whether we will
it or not. But we are stirring up our desires for
the kingdom so that it can come to us and we can deserve to reign there.
When we say: Your will be
done on earth as it is in heaven, we are asking him to make us
obedient so that his will may be done in us as it
is done in heaven by his angels.
When we say: Give us this
day our daily bread, in saying this day we mean in this
world. Here we ask for a sufficiency by specifying the most important
part of it; that is, we use the word bread to stand for everything.
Or else we are asking for the sacrament of the faithful, which is necessary
in this world, not to gain temporal happiness but
to gain the happiness that is everlasting.
When we say: Forgive us our
trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us, we are reminding
ourselves of what we must ask and what we must do in order to be worthy in
turn to receive.
When we say: Lead us not into
temptation, we are reminding ourselves to ask that his help may not depart
from us; otherwise we could be seduced and
consent to some temptation, or despair and
yield to it.
When we say: Deliver us from
evil, we are reminding ourselves to reflect on the fact that we do not
yet enjoy the state of blessedness in which we shall suffer no
evil. This is the final petition contained in the
Lords Prayer, and it has a wide application. In this petition the Christian
can utter his cries of sorrow, in it he can shed his tears, and through it
he can begin, continue and conclude his prayer, whatever the
distress in which he finds himself.
Saint Augustine, bishop
Office of Readings, Tuesday of the
Twenty-Ninth Week in Ordinary Time