The First Part of the “Our Father”1.The Pater Noster, being God’s own composition, is the most perfect of prayers. It covers, moreover, all our obligations and all our needs. It may be divided into two parts, the first of which refers to God, the second to ourselves. We should ask first of all for whatever is important to God, and then for whatever concerns ourselves. This is the command of Jesus. “Seek first the kingdom of God and His justice, and all these things shall be given you besides. (Mt. 6:33)
When we have invoked our Father in Heaven we go on to pray: “Hallowed be Thy name.”
Let us think about this. What do we look for first of all when we pray? Is it the glory of God, or is it our own self-interest? Which occupies the principal place in our thoughts, God or our own ego? Let us remember that we have been created for the glory of God. We shall not find happiness unless we seek God’s glory alone, for God is our true welfare.
We must not allow ourselves to become absorbed in insignificant worldly objects, which can never completely satisfy us. Rather must we keep our minds on God. “God alone is sufficient,” said St. Teresa. Without Him there is nothing good within us or around us.
When we say “Hallowed be Thy name,” moreover, we should not only give God’s glory precedence over all our desires, but we should also make an act of reparation for the countless blasphemies by which His name has been injured. How can we remain passive and inert while our Creator and our Redeemer is being continually blasphemed and offended? At the very least we can set against the diabolical insults of many of our fellow-men our own humble and loving prayer: “May Thy name, my God, be blessed and glorified.”
2. Our second ejaculation is: “Thy kingdom come.” It is true that God reigns over Heaven, earth, and the infernal regions. Everything is subject to His will; the sun, the stars, the birds of the air, the fishes of the sea, and the tiniest insects carry out His commands. Even the demons of Hell, who He has condemned to eternal punishment, are obedient to His will. But what about the human race?
Man possesses the precious but dangerous privilege of free will, which he has power to abuse by rebelling against God. We should pray that the sovereignty of God many be triumphant in all hearts, beginning with our own, and that all men may willingly subject themselves to His commandments and to His grace. This is the only way in which they can find peace. “Take my yoke upon you... and you will find rest for your souls.” (Mt. 11:29)
We should pray, moreover, for the Church, which is the kingdom of God on earth. We should pray for her peaceful victory over her enemies, who persecute her and impede her work for the salvation of souls. We should love the Church even as we love Jesus Christ, for the Church is His handiwork and the fruit of His Precious Blood.
3. “Thy will be done on earth, as it is in Heaven.” There is infinite and everlasting happiness in Heaven because all the blessed do God’s will in a spirit of love and find perfect peace in Him.
We have a strict obligation to do God’s will, because we all owe prompt and generous obedience to our Creator and Redeemer. Furthermore, this is the only way in which we can acquire peace of soul, which is the beginning of true happiness. “There is no peace to the wicked.” (Is. 48:22) The sinner can never be at peace. Therefore, when we say “Thy will be done on earth, as it is in Heaven,” let us resolve to do God’s will in all things in the manner of the blessed in Heaven. Our reward will be spiritual peace, even in the midst of trial and sorrow.