Friday, May 21, 2010

Explain the first three petitions of the Lord's Prayer.

NOTE: This is one in a series of posts from my moral theology assignments. They are intended to be brief responses. In many cases, the topics could be extensively explored, but that was not the intent of the assignment.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church discusses the seven petitions made in the Our Father in light of their end: “The first three, more theological, draw us toward the glory of the Father; the last four, as ways toward him, commend our wretchedness to his grace” (2803). The first three petitions hallow God’s name, call for the establishment of His kingdom, and call for His will to be done on both earth and Heaven (2804). The Catechism notes the relationship of these three more theological petitions to the theological virtues:
It is characteristic of love to think first of the one whom we love. In none of the three petitions do we mention ourselves; the burning desire, even anguish, of the beloved Son for his Father's glory seizes us. . . . These three supplications were already answered in the saving sacrifice of Christ, but they are henceforth directed in hope toward their final fulfillment, for God is not yet all in all.

The first petition, “hallowed be thy name,” is meant as prayer and praise of God rather than as an action on our part, since we cannot hallow (or make holy) God. He alone is holy. However, by our hallowing his name, we demonstrate our love for Him, in a positive manner addressing the second commandment. The Catechism states that in hallowing His name, we are immersed in the mystery of the Godhead and drawn into the “drama of the salvation of our humanity” (2807).

The second and third petitions, “thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven” request the presence of God’s kingdom or of His reign here and now, and the enactment of His will now and in the future. God’s kingdom represents a return of the original justice of Eden and perfect relationship that humanity had with God. We have it in the here and now in that Christ has brought to us the renewal of our divine life in God. However, it is also not yet fully realized until Christ’s final coming (CCC 2816, 2818). It is both in our midst but not yet.

The third petition is God’s will to be fulfilled both on earth and in Heaven, and it is for this we hope—to see God’s mercy and His justice extended to all people, and to see all benefit from the gifts God has given us on earth. As Ashley notes, this desire is rightly expressed in Liberation Theology when purged of its Marxist elements.[i] While we Christians aim to do God’s will “on earth as it is in Heaven,” we often fall short of fully expressing his Divine mercy. One way in particular that we fail in is evangelization. In order for God’s will to be fully manifest, it must be communicated to all. Yet many of us (myself included) fail in this very basic of tasks of building God’s kingdom on earth.

i. Benedict Ashley, “Moral Theology: Lecture 6A—Lesson Eleven,” International Catholic University, 18 March 2010, .
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