Saint Cyprian on the Lord’s Prayer

Today’s Liturgy of the Hours features a reading from Saint Cyprian on the subject of the Lord’s prayer.  He writes:

We do not say “My father who art in heaven” nor “Give me this day my daily bread.”  It is not for himself alone that each person asks to be forgiven, not to be led into temptation, or to be delivered from evil.  Rather, we pray in public as a community and not for one individual but for all.  For the people of God are all one.”

Cyprian lived in the 3rd century, so his words are nothing new.  But how many of us pray the “Our Father” in this spirit of community?  We often hear people, especially young people, who say “I don’t need to go to mass.  I can pray on my own.”  But that’s not what Jesus taught us.  He said, “Pray like this:  Our Father who art in heaven.”  The idea that God lives in heaven was nothing new.  But calling Him Our Father was.

While many of us include this prayer as part of our daily devotion, it’s important to keep in mind that it’s a communal prayer.  Even when we pray it in solitude, we’re calling on God in behalf of all people.

The First Saturday of Advent

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n today’s Office of Readings, Saint Cyprian offers these words on the value of patience.  He writes:

“Patience is a precept for salvation given us by our Lord, our teacher:  Whoever endures to the end will be saved. And again “If you persevere in my word, you will truly be my disciples; you will know the truth and the truth will set you free.

Dear brethren, we must endure and persevere if we are to attain the truth and freedom we have been allowed to hope for; faith and hope are the very meaning of our being Christians, but if faith and hope are to bear their fruit, patience is necessary.”

Advent is all about patience.  We wait for the glorious coming of our Lord and savior.  But it’s easy for us.  Advent lasts less than a month.  First century Jews had been waiting for thousands of years.  Those who didn’t accept Jesus as the Messiah are still waiting, another 2,000 years later.  We’ve come to the end of the first week of Advent.  Our wait is almost over.

But that doesn’t make patience any less important the other eleven months of the year.  Cyprian concludes by saying,

“And in another place he says:  Bear with one another lovingly, striving to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. He shows that neither unity nor peace can be maintained unless the brethren cherish each other with mutual forbearance and preserve the bond of harmony by the means of patience.”