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The Everyday Prayer

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Icon of the Holy Face
Church of Sant'Egidio, Rome

Reading of the Word of God

Praise to you, o Lord, King of eternal glory

The Spirit of the Lord is upon you.
The child you shall bear will be holy.

Praise to you, o Lord, King of eternal glory

Matthew 6, 7-15

'In your prayers do not babble as the gentiles do, for they think that by using many words they will make themselves heard.

Do not be like them; your Father knows what you need before you ask him.

So you should pray like this: Our Father in heaven, may your name be held holy,

your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as in heaven.

Give us today our daily bread.

And forgive us our debts, as we have forgiven those who are in debt to us.

And do not put us to the test, but save us from the Evil One.

'Yes, if you forgive others their failings, your heavenly Father will forgive you yours;

but if you do not forgive others, your Father will not forgive your failings either.


Praise to you, o Lord, King of eternal glory

Look down, O Lord, on your servants.
Be it unto us according to your word.

Praise to you, o Lord, King of eternal glory

The liturgy of this Lenten season leads us to some of the most significant pages in the Gospel. They help us grow in our inner life. This is why we need to let our minds be instructed and our hearts be warmed by the words of the Gospel every day. Today Jesus gives us his prayer, the Our Father. He first warns us that prayer is not just the multiplication of words, as if their quantity were what counted and not the heart with which they are pronounced. Instead he wants to show us the path of direct prayer, which immediately reaches God’s heart. He is the only one who could have taught this. He alone is the perfect Son who knows the Father deeply. Because of this, and because he loves his disciples with a limitless love, he teaches them the highest prayer, the prayer that God cannot help but hear. The character of this prayer can be understood from its first word, Abba (father). With this simple word - used by children everywhere when speaking to their own fathers - Jesus accomplishes a true revolution with respect to the Jewish tradition of never even speaking God’s holy name. He involves us in his own intimacy with the Father. It is not that he "lowers" God to us, but rather that we are raised up to the heavens, to the very heart of God, "who is in heaven" so that we can call him "father." Even if the Father remains "in heaven" he is the One who embraces us. It is right to do the will of a Father like Him. It is right to ask for his kingdom to come soon, that is, the time when God’s holiness will finally be recognized. In the second part of the prayer, Jesus has us ask the Father about our daily life: we ask Him for bread, bread for our bodies and for our hearts. And then we dare to make a serious request: "Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors." It seems harsh and unrealistic: how can we make human forgiveness the model ("as we also...") of divine forgiveness? In truth it is extraordinarily wise. We see this in the following verses: "For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you; but if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses." This language is incomprehensible to a society like ours, in which forgiveness is quite rare, if not totally obsolete and where resentment and animosity are weeds we have been unable to fully eradicate. But perhaps this is why we need to learn how to pray the Our Father even more.

Memory of the Mother of the Lord