The LORD’S PRAYER!
Peter John Cameron, O.P.
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P ERHAPS ONE OF THE MOST TERRIFYING THINGS THAT THE LORD JESUS HAS COMMANDED US TO DO IS “TO CHANGE AND BECOME LIKE LITTLE CHILDREN” (MT 18: 2-4). YET, HOW MUCH WE YEARN IN THOSE EARLY YEARS OF OUR LIFE TO GET ON WITH THE GROWING UP, FINALLY TO JUST REALLY BECOME AN ADULT.
A holy friend of mine recently remarked with a touch of regret, “Why do we ever lose the wonder of a child?” ---------He’s so right. Because the alternative — cynicism, self-importance, venality, bitterness, etc. ---— is so deadly.
Sadly, once we lose the wonder of a child, it is very hard to recover it.
The Lord understands this.
That is why he raised up a saint like Thérèse of Lisieux whose doctrine of spiritual childhood leads us back to the simplicity, innocence, and docility of the child crucial for entrance into heaven. And that is why one of Jesus’ most exquisite gifts to us is the Lord’s Prayer.
When we pray it with the littleness of a child, Christ changes us and restores the joy of our youth. Here’s a way to pray the Lord’s Prayer so as to cultivate spiritual childhood.
Our Father, who art in heaven.
As I speak these truly awesome words I confess that I am nothing but a child.-----
I am nothing in myself; I am only in relation to you.-----
Because to be is to be blessed with life from an Other in whom is my whole identity. To worship you is to acknowledge that I am nothing hut a poor, weak, helpless child. But I am not afraid, because you are my Father. Your heavenly love for me is greater than all my worldly fears.
Hallowed be thy name.
Your name is hallowed in me when I call upon your name in trust ---— the trust whereby your strength becomes my own. As I live only by your strength — not by my aggressiveness, my haughtiness, my indignation, my delusion --— your name is hallowed in me.
Thy kingdom come.
I am not the measure of my life. Neither are my senses, my feelings, my emotions, or my faulty understanding of things.----- The mercy of your kingdom is the very measure of my life . I pray for the grace more and more to renounce every attempt to force you and the world to conform to myself. Let my plea for your kingdom empty me of every trace of false self so as to create a place within my soul for your reign to reign.
Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
My desire for sanctity, for heroic holiness is my assurance that the Holy Spirit has taken possession of my soul. ------- The inspiration of such a great desire fills me with the conviction that you will realize it in me. Because I believe that I can do anything that you, loving Father, ask me to do....... simply because you have asked me. Even what seems impossible and utterly beyond me I know is well within my reach if I am embraced by your love.
Give us this day our daily bread.
Our daily bread is whatever we need to remain united to you in reliance, dependency, and abandonment at this moment . Everything that Jesus has he first received from you. Holiness is receptivity. Children don’t know enough to know
what is ood for them....., what the need to get by and grow. And neither do I. Therefore, loving Father, I will live moment by moment in gratitude and thankful-ness, surrendered to your unfailing providence.
And forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those
who trespass against us.
The way that I am certain that you are Father is the lavish mercy with which you love me, especially when I deserve it least.------ Return me to that self-forgetfulness and guilelessness whereby I eagerly forgive others who offend me without giving it a second thought . Hatred and resentment must be learned; I choose instead to dwell in the school of your generous compassion.
And lead us not into temptation.
The experience of temptation shows me the specific areas of my life where I am weak and inclined to live according to my own urges and devices. ------That would be deadly. So I pray to be spared from the stubbornness and presumption that
would turn the grace of self-knowledge into a trap of self-destruction.
But deliver us from evil.
The Evil One angles to deceive me into the absolute exaltation of self whereby I would spurn spiritual childhood in pursuit of egoistic, self-serving, self-satisfied, arrogant individualism. Keep me little and longing for one thing: to hear your voice from heaven say, “You are my beloved child. In you I am well
To sum up, Saint Leo the Great remarks that “Christ loves the childhood that he first took up in both soul and body. Christ loves childhood, the teacher of humility, the rule of innocence, the image of gentleness.”
And so should we.
October 2002. Vol . 4, No. 8 (pgs.2-4)
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