Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Pater Noster explained by St. Peter Canisius.

What good things are those which a Christian must hope for?

First, and specially those good things of the kingdom of heaven, which do make men blessed and happy, and exempts them from all manner of misery. Then, all such things as serving for the necessary uses of mortal men in this life, are rightly desired and prayed for at God's hands, ought to be reputed in the number of those good things which are to be hoped for and expected. All which are specially expressed in our Lord's prayer, as which Christ our Lord with his own most sacred mouth delivered, and with wonderful wisdom prescribed to all those, that would gladly by prayer lay open their hope and good desires before All, God.

What is the form of our Lord's prayer?

This that follows; Our Father which art in heaven.

1. Hallowed be thy name.
2. Thy kingdom come.
3. Thy will be done, in earth, as it is in heaven.
4. Give us this day our daily bread.
5. And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive them that trespass agaist us.
6. And lead us not into temptation.
7. But deliver us from evil. Amen.

What are the sum of Our Lord's prayer?

There are seven petitions therein contained, unto which, all manners and forms of prayers whatsoever may an ought to be referred, whether we treat with Almighty God, for the obtaining of some good things: or for the wiping away of sin: or for the turning away of any evil whatsoever. And in the three first petitions, those things are in order demanded, which are properly eternal and everlasting: in the four others we do ask even temporal things, as being necessary for us, to the getting of the eternal.

What is meant by the beginning of this prayer, Our Father which art, etc.

It is a little preface, and it puts us in mind of that great and inestimable benefit, whereby God the Father, that eternal majesty, reigning most happily in heaven, received us into his favor, and for Christ his Son's sake, adopted us by the holy Ghost to be his sons, and heirs unto his heavenly kingdom.

And this remembrance of so great benefits, does not only stir up attention: but provoke also the sons to render love again to their father and to obey him, and it does in like manner encourage them to pray, and afford them confidence to obtain.

What is the sense of the first petition, Hallowed be Thy Name?

We desire that as well in ourselves as in all others, that may always be preferred and advanced, which stands most with the glory an honor of our sovereign and most excellent Father.

And this indeed we do perform, when the confession of the true faith, hope and charity, and holy conversation of Christian life, do show forth their light and force in us, that others also beholding the same, may take occasion to glorify our Father.

What is contained in the second petition, Thy kingdom come?

We do ask that God by his grace and justice, may reign in his Church, yea, and in the whole world all adversary powers, and evil affections being once abandoned and rooted out.

Then we do wish and pray, that being once called out of this world, as out of a troublesome pilgrimage and warfare, we may be speedily transported into the kingdom of glory, and everlasting felicity, to reign with Christ and his saints forever.

What imports the third petition, Thy will be done?

We do wish in this petition, that as the angels and blessed saints in heaven; so we also upon earth, though weak, and of small force, may exhibit unto Almighty God, exact obedience, desiring or coveting nothing so much as that we may willingly submit ourselves to the will of God, both in prosperity and adversity, and renouncing our own will, which is prone unto evil, we may rest and settle our minds in the will of God.

What has the fourth petition, Give us this day our daily bread?

We do like poor folks, and beggars, crave of the author and fountain of all goodness, those things that be sufficient for the daily maintenance of our corporal life, to wit, food, and clothing, also those things that do serve to a better the life of the soul: as the word of God, the spiritual food of the soul; the most holy and Blessed Sacrament of the Altar, that heavenly bread: and other most wholesome Sacraments and gifts of God, which do feed, cure, and confirm the inward man to a well ordered and happy kind of life.

How is the fifth petition understood, Forgive us our trespasses?

In this we crave, that God will mercifully purge us from the spot of sin, which above all things is most foul and pestilent unto the soul; and that he will also remit those very debts, which we have contracted by sinning.

And lest our prayer should not be available, by reason that we are evil affected towards our neighbor; we add this besides, that all secret hate and desire of revenge being laid aside, we are at atonement with our neighbor, and have forgiven every one that has offended us, even from the bottom of our hearts. For this is that which Christ signified in another place when he said: Forgive, and ye shall be forgiven. And again: If you will not forgive men, neither will your Father forgive you your offenses.

What is the sense of the sixth petition, Lead us not into temptation?

Because this present life is a very warfare upon earth, while we are always assaulted with divers temptations,and in a hard and continual conflict, with the world, the flesh, and, the devil: therefore, being devoutly careful of our own estate, we sue for help at the hands of almighty God, that we do not yield to such assaults of our adversaries, and by yielding incur damnation; but that standing always in this continual combat, relying upon the might and hand of God, we may valiantly resist the power of the devil, have the world in contempt, chastise the flesh, and so finally as invincible soldiers of Christ, be crowned after the victory, for no man is crowned, as witnesses the Apostle, unless he strive lawfully.

What is the seventh and last petition, deliver us from evil?

We pray at the last, that God will not suffer us to be overthrown, and cast away with the wicked, by the calamities of this world, wherewith even the Godly also are exercised: but that by his benignity he deliver us, so far forth as is expedient for our salvation: and mercifully defend us from all evil both of body, an of soul, as well in this life, as in the life to come. For so has himself promised: Call upon me in the day of tribulation, I will deliver thee and thou shalt honor me.

Last of all, we conclude the whole prayer with this one word Amen, that we may show our confidence in praying an hope of obtaining, in regard as well of Christ's promise that never fails, Ask, (saith he) and it shall be given you: as also of the infinite clemency and ready mercy of God the Father. Insomuch that hereupon, S. John has said, Whatsoever we shall ask according to his will, he hears us.

What is the sum of our Lord's prayer?

It contains a perfect and absolute form not only of asking that which is good, but also of praying to be delivered from whatsoever is evil.

And among the things that be good, this is first to be wished and prayed for, that all men may glorify our heavenly Father, at all times and in all places: then, that we may be partakers of his Kingdom: afterward, that we may not want those helps that are convenient for the attaining unto the same Kingdom. As is, on the behalf of our soul, to be conformable to the will of God: and as touching our body, to have necessary living and maintenance.

But those things that are added in the second place, and do continue to the end of the prayer, do express the affect of one that craves delivery from evils, which by the grace and power of almighty God he desires to have either utterly taken away, to wit, sin the contagion of all goodness and the sink and puddle of all evils. or else that they may be so tempered, that by their violence, they hinder us not in the way to salvation. Such are, divers temptations that invade us in this world, and all calamities both present and to come. All other things that are to be said touching prayer, shall be reserved for that place, where the three kinds of good works shall be expounded.

The Summe of Christian Doctrine by St. Peter Canisius [Not available for view online]

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