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We Dare to Say "Our Father"...
- Before we make this first exclamation of the Lord's Prayer, we must humbly cleanse our hearts of certain false images drawn from this world.
- The purification of our hearts has to do with maternal and paternal images from our personal and cultural history which influence our relationship with God. We must realize that God the Father transcends the categories of the created world. God transcends the distinction between the sexes. He is neither man nor woman: God is just God.
- God also transcends human fatherhood and motherhood. The image of a human father is generally a positive one, and this helps us to draw near to God as Father. Yet, sadly, there are cases of fathers who have fallen short of the responsibilities of fatherhood. But no one is father as God is Father.
- To impose our own ideas "upon him" in this area would be to make idols to adore or pull down. (CCC 2779) Our language is not up to the task of expressing the mystery of God.
- By calling God "Father," the language of faith indicates two main things: that God is the first origin of everything and transcendent authority; and that he is at the same time goodness and loving care for all his children. (CCC 239)
- An understanding of God as Father is evident in the Old Testament, where God describes himself as being in a special relationship of providential care for the people of Israel. But the expression "God the Father" had never been revealed to anyone. When Moses himself asked God who he was, he heard another name, "I Am."
- The Father is revealed to us by his Son and we can approach him only through the Son. Jesus revelation of God as Father flows from that same providential care , but also of an indescribable intimacy. The personal relation of the Son to the Father is something that man cannot conceive of nor the angelic powers even dimly see: and yet, the Spirit of the Son grants a participation in that very relation to us who believe that Jesus is the Christ and that we are born of God. (CCC 2780)
- Addressing God as "Our Father" is a baptism-privileged calling. Through Baptism, we are given the grace of an adopted, filial relationship with the Father. We are sons and daughters of God. We are related. God is recognized as Father by those who are reborn of him by water and the Spirit. (CCC 2790)
- The adjective "Our" as used by us, does not express possession, but an entirely new relationship with God. This new relationship is the gift of belonging to each other. We are his and he is ours, for our sake. (CCC 2786, 2787)
- We are a people bound together by the New Covenant that God has made with us through his Son in the Holy Spirit. While we are indeed individual persons, we are also persons in communion with each other because we have been baptized into communion with the Holy Trinity. (USCCB, 2006)
- The "Our," however, excludes no one. We cannot pray 'our' without including every single person for whom Christ died. The Our Father erases all boundaries between us and them, between past and present. It calls us into the family circle, saints crossing elbows with sinners, rich with poor, criminal with law-abiding, powerful with victimized, living with dead. God's love has no bounds, neither should our prayer. We pray with and for all who do not yet know him. (CCC 2792, 2793)
- In spite of the divisions among Christians, this prayer to "our" Father remains our common patrimony and an urgent summons for all the baptized to join in Jesus' prayer for the unity of his disciples. (CCC 2791)
- When we pray to the Father, we are not just praying to one of the persons of the Trinity. We are entering into communion with the Father and the Son through the Spirit praying in us. We adore and glorify the Father together with the Son and the Holy Spirit.
- St Irenaeus helps us understand this Trinitarian mystery:
"It is impossible to see God's Son without the Spirit,
And no one can approach the Father without the Son,
For the knowledge of the Father is the Son,
And the knowledge of God's Son is obtained through the
Who art in heaven...
- Heaven does not refer to a 'place,' but to God's majesty and his presence in the hearts of the just. Heaven, the Father's house, is the true homeland toward which we are heading and to which, already, we belong. (CCC 2802)
- The Catechism calls heaven a 'way of being.' (CCC 2794) The book of Revelation depicts a heaven that comes down to earth, and the Christian understanding of eternity is located on a renewed earth.
- The Church professes that we are the People of God, already seated "with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus," yet at the same time, "here indeed we groan and long to put on our heavenly dwelling." Christians spend their lives on earth, but [at the same time] are citizens of heaven. (CCC 2796)
- Heaven is the culmination of our relationship with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit begun in Baptism.
Libreria Editrice Vaticana.Catechism of the Catholic Church.New York:William H. Sadler, Inc, 1994.
United States Catholic Catechism for Adults.Washington, DC:United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, 2006.
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