The Lord’s Prayer

Today’s Gospel introduces us to the Lord’s prayer (if we’ve been living in a cave or on another planet.)  Jesus tells His disciples not to “babble” when they pray.  Your Father knows what you need before you ask him.  This is how you pray”

‘Our Father who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name,
thy Kingdom come,
thy will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread;
and forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us;
and lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.’

Since this prayer was given to us by the Lord, we call it “The Lord’s Prayer” or we may call it the “Our Father).  Whatever we call it it’s truly a universal prayer, a catholic prayer.  (catholic with a small “c” means universal.)

It’s often considered a Catholic prayer (capital c) because Catholics are known to memorize certain prayers and trot them out when the occasion calls for them.  More about that in a minute.

If you’ve ever attended a “mixed marriage” between a Catholic and a Protestant you’ve surely noticed that the bride’s family and friends are on one side and the groom’s are on the other.  Of course, if you ever find yourself in such a predicament the first thing to remember is NEVER MAKE EYE CONTACT with anyone on the other side.  But soon you may notice that we’re not all that different.  In fact, at some point in the proceedings both sides will begin saying, “Our Father who art in heaven.”  Wow!  We say that prayer too.

The trouble comes when everyone says “but deliver us from evil” and you say “amen” and start to sit down,.  But before your bottom hits the pew you go “Wait a minute!  They’re not stopping!”

So you jump back up and wait for them to finish.  The conclusion is known as a “Doxology” and is not part of the original prayer.  In fact, in the Catholic liturgy, at the conclusion of the Lord’s Prayer, the priest gives an extended Doxology which concludes with the words (accompanied by the faithful in the pews) “for the kingdom and the power and the glory are yours, now and forever.”

But, that’s not what’s important.  What is important is that all Christians pray the same essential prayer, as Jesus taught us.  The Holy Father says the Lord’s Prayer.  Kings and presidents say the Lord’s Prayer.  Ordinary people say the Lord’s Prayer.  And even down-and-out drunks hold hands and recite it at the end of every Alcoholics Annonymous meeting.  It is indeed universal.

Now, about those memorized prayers, like the Lord’s Prayer, the Hail Mary, the meal prayer, the bedtime prayer and others.  Catholics are often criticized for our dependence on these “canned” prayers.  Now, there’s not a thing wrong with good extemporaneous prayer.  I know people who can make a meal prayer last fifteen minutes.  But Jesus just told us not to babble.  God knows what we want.  “Bless us O Lord and these gifts which we are about to receive from thy bounty, through Christ our Lord” pretty much covers it.

Here’s the thing.  We begin to memorize all these prayers as small children (at least those of you who are cradle Catholics).  They become part of us.  They’re so ingrained in our subconscious that we’re praying them even when we’re not aware of it.  We become the prayer.

When I was in hospital ministry, it wasn’t unusual to have a Catholic patient, near death, maybe even comatose who would move his or her lips when I prayed the Our Father.  Sometimes they would even try to make the sign of the cross.  Their parents had no idea when they taught them those prayers eighty years ago that those prayers would carry them into the next life.  This is pretty strong stuff.  So never be embarrassed by all those prayers you learned as a child.  Someday they will come in handy.

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40 Reasons Why It’s Cool to be Catholic #24 The Rosary and Other “Catholic” Prayers

Notice that I put “Catholic prayers” in quotes in the title.  None of our prayers are restricted to just Catholics, even though most people make that association.  The Hail Mary, The Lord’s Prayer, the Creed, or any prayer that we may think of as “ours” contains anything that should keep any Christian from joining in.  In fact, many of our protestant brothers and sisters pray the “Our Father” regularly and also use one of the two Creeds.  Notice, in your missal, that the word “catholic”, as used in either the Nicene or the Apostle’s Creed isn’t capitalized.  The word means “universal”.

The rosary (from the Latin, rosarium, or rose garden) goes back to the early Church.  In the year 1214, when the rosary was given to Saint Dominic in an apparition.  The prayer itself has remained largely the same until 2002, when Pope John Paul II added the luminous mysteries. Many protestant denominations discourage prayer of the Rosary, due mainly to their lack of devotion to the Blessed Mother (and, in many cases their distrust of anything that might be considered “too Catholic”).

But the fact is, there is nothing in the devotion that isn’t Biblical.  I’ll break that down for you in a minute.  Stay tuned.

According to EWTN, the Rosary was a devotion for the laity in the early Church, many of whom couldn’t read.  The 150 Hail Marys were their equivalent to the Monks recitation of the 150 Psalms.  The Rosary has been the preferred devotion for Popes and Saints for Centuries.  John Paul II called it his favorite prayer after the mass and the Liturgy of the Hours. There are many articles on how to pray the Rosary and I’ll give you a couple of links below.  What I want to do here is break down the individual prayers. Jesus Himself told us how to pray the Lord’s prayer.  When the disciples asked Him how to pray, He said to pray like this:

“Father, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come.  Give us each day our daily bread and forgive us our sins for we ourselves forgive everyone in debt to us, and do not subject us to the final test.”  Luke 11:1-4

Enough said. Then we have the “Hail Mary”.  Frankly, I don’t know how anyone could question the Biblicality (new word) of this prayer.  Again from Luke:

The angel said to Mary, “Hail favored one! (full of grace)  The Lord is with you!” Luke 1:28  Then when Mary visited the home of Elizabeth, “Elizabeth cried out in a loud voice and said, ‘Most blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb.'” Luke 1:42

That’s the first half of the Hail Mary, almost word-for-word.  In the second half of the prayer we ask Mary to pray for us.  That’s it.  The whole prayer directly from Luke’s Gospel and from our desire for Mary to pray for us.

Combine the Our Fathers and the Hail Mary’s and you have the Rosary. The thing that makes these prayers cool, along with other Catholic prayers and devotions too numerous to list here, is the fact that they give us easily-remembered forms for talking to God and to the Blessed Mother.  Sometimes when we pray, we may have a tendency to want to be too wordy.  We may go on-and-on about this and that when all that’s really needed are the words we’ve been given by the Scriptures and by the Church.  In a matter of seconds, we can speak to God or Mary anytime and anyplace.

And that’s cool!

In case you need more evidence of the coolness of Catholic prayer, especially the Hail Mary, here’s something I’ll bet you didn’t know.  Elvis Presley recorded a song called The Miracle of the Rosary.  According to iTunes, it was included on not just one, but on SIX different albums.  Here he is for your listening pleasure:

Rosary Links:  EWTN

The Holy Rosary.org

The Joyful Mysteries (audio) by Dana