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The Prayer Our Father


6. Some compare our mind to the lightest of feathers. When it is not affected by moisture and because of its lightness, it would soar to great heights from the weakest gust of wind. If it is weighed down with some kind of dampness, then it is unable to rise but adheres to the ground because of its weight. Similarly with our mind. If it is not overburdened with passions, earthly cares, not damaged with the dampness of destructive lusts and is therefore buoyant, then by the power of our natural purity and with the lightest winnowing of spiritual reflections, it will rise up high, soaring towards heaven, leaving everything earthly behind. In fact, that is why Christ teaches us: "But take heed to yourselves, lest your hearts be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness, and cares of this life" (Luke 21:34). Thus, if we want our prayers to reach not only the skies but beyond, then we must bring our mind to its natural buoyancy by cleansing it of all iniquities and dampness of earthly passions, so that our prayers ó free of any foreign burdens ó may soar easily toward God. (Blessed John Cassian)

6. In turning to God with the words: "Our Father!" we acknowledge Him ó Lord of the universe ó as our Father, because He has set us free from slavery to our passions and adopted us. In saying further: "Who art in Heaven," ó we express our readiness to put aside every attachment to this temporary life that distances us from the heavenly things, and henceforth strive fervently toward where our Father is. This type of disposition obliges us not to do anything that does not conform to our high calling as children of God and might deprive us of our Fatherly inheritance and subject us to Godís severe judgment. (Blessed John Cassian)

Having been honored with such a high calling as children of God, we must be aflame with a sonís love for God and not seek benefits for ourselves, but His, our Fatherís, glory, saying: "hallowed be Thy Name." Through this we declare that all our wishes and all our happiness is concentrated in the glory of our Father ó henceforth, let the glorious name of our Father be praised and revered by all.

Our second entreaty of a purified mind is: "Thy Kingdom come." Here, the conversation is about two kingdoms. One ó is Christís kingdom, that is found within Saints and arrives after the passions have been expelled from our hearts and God begins to guide us with the fragrance of virtues. The second kingdom is the one that will be revealed at a predetermined time, promised to all Godís children when Christ said: "Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world" (Mat. 25:34).

The third entreaty, which is proper for a son: "Thy will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven," which means: let people be like Angels. Just as they carry out Godís will, so let it be that the people on earth carry out His will and not their own. This also means: let all things in our life be according to Thy will, we place our fate in You, believing that everything ó good fortune as well as misfortune ó You will arrange for our benefit, and that Your concern for our salvation is greater than our own.

Further: "Give us this day our daily bread" means more than staple food but is of a higher nature; it is bread that has come down from heaven ó Holy Sacrament. The word daily teaches us that yesterdayís food is not sufficient if it is not given to us now. This convinces us to pour out this prayer daily, as there is not one day where we do not need to strengthen our inner being by eating this Bread.

"And forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors." The Merciful Lord promises us forgiveness of our sins if we ourselves set the example by forgiving our brothers: forgive us as we forgive. Apparently, only that person that has forgiven others can ask, with hope and boldness, the forgiveness of his own sins. He who has not forgiven with all his heart his brother who has sinned against him is asking, by saying this prayer, condemnation for himself rather than forgiveness. Because if this prayer is heard, then after the example of the unforgiving person, nothing but implacable anger and definite punishment will ensue. After all: "For he shall have judgment without mercy, that hath shewed no mercy" (James 3:13).

"And lead us not into temptation." Bearing in mind Apostle Jamesís statement: "Blessed is the man who endures temptation" (James 1:12), the words in the prayer should not be understood in the sense that "do not allow us ever to be exposed to trials," but "do not allow us to be conquered in the presence of temptation." Job was tempted but was not led into temptation, because with Godís help he did not utter anything senseless about God (Job 1:22) and did not defile his lips with blasphemous complaints, toward which his tempter tried to steer him. So were Abraham and Joseph tempted, but neither one nor the other were led into temptation, because they did not carry out the will of the tempter.

"But deliver us from the evil one," i.e. do not allow the devil to tempt us beyond our strength, but with temptations, send us relief so that we may bear them (1 Cor. 10:13).

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