One day, after watching Jesus pray with great intensity, the Apostles asked him to teach them to pray as he prayed. Jesus taught them the prayer that we now know as the “Lord’s Prayer . ” Matt. 6:9-1 3 Catholics, non-Catholics and Non-Christians as well, say this prayer. It is a prayer that many people know by heart and say together at meetings. But when Jesus taught this prayer to the Apostles, it was intended to be more than a prayer to be repeated. It was how every prayer to God was to begin in one’s heart. If you say the prayer reflectively, you see what I mean.
The Lord’s prayer begins, “Our Father, who art in Heaven, hallowed be thy name.” Matt. 6:9. When we pray, we are not to pray to a distant impersonal God, but to the one and only God who created us and who has chosen us to be His children through baptism. Still we are to hold his very name blessed because He remains the all powerful, the all holy God and we approach him with appropriate respect and reverence.
Next we pray, “thy kingdom come, thy will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven.” Matt. 6:10. Jesus taught that the Kingdom of God was at hand now to those who accepted him. As Christians we pray to experience the fruits of the Kingdom of God at Hand now and for God’s will to be done in our lives while we continue our journey here on Earth. We strive to live in relationship with God now like the saints in heaven.
Next we pray, “give us this day our daily bread.” Matt. 6:11. The bread that Jesus refers to is not Break-fast, Lunch and Dinner. He was the “bread of life” we desire. Jesus taught that “unless you eat my body and drink my blood, you shall not have life within you.” The daily bread that Jesus teaches us to pray for is his Body and Blood given first to the Apostles at the last supper and to us today at each mass offered daily in every part of the world.
Next we pray, “ forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” Matt. 6:12. Jesus taught that he came to “call sinners, not the self-righteous.” Unless we recognize our sinfulness and accept the salvation Jesus achieved for us on the cross, he has nothing to offer us. We are to recognize our sin-fulness and humbly ask pardon of God for our sins. But it is also unrealistic to ask pardon of God for our sins if we refuse to forgive others who sin against us. We are reminded here of the parable Jesus told about the servant who was forgiven a great debt but then proceeded to severely punish a fellow servant for a minor debt owed to him. Learning of this, the master recalled the unforgiving servant and severely punished him.
Next we pray, “Lead us not into temptation.” Matt. 6:13. This implies our willingness to follow Jesus’ lead rather than the allurements of the world. We are to pray to do the will of God rather than expect God to conform His will to ours and simply do what we ask of Him
Next we pray, “Deliver us from evil.” Matt. 6:13. Evil does exist in the world. Hitler, Muslim extremists who kill innocent people, drug runners who destroy the lives of thousands and other such individuals are examples of this evil. We must live in this world of potential evil but with the grace of God avoid participating in it. The Lord ’s Prayer teaches us the mindset desired for all prayer to God. We are to approach God confidently as our loving Father and humbly as the created all things. We are to desire the Kingdom of God at hand and to do God’s will before our own. We are to desire Jesus, the Bread of Life, in Holy Communion. We are to desire for-giveness for our sins and the grace to forgive others. We are to desire grace to avoid temptation and the humility to allow Jesus to lead us. We are to acknowledge the reality of evil in the world and, with the grace of God, desire to separate ourselves from it as we strive to live in the Kingdom of God that is at hand.
St. Kateri Tekakwitha and Prayer
“Blessed” and “Saint” are titles that the Catholic Church gives to those who have died who lived such exemplary lives of faith that their lives may be looked to as models for our own lives. Kateri Tekakwitha lived such a life.
Kateri was born near Auriesville, N. Y. in 1656, the daughter of a Mohawk warrior. She was four years old when her parents died of smallpox and the disease attacked her and left her face marred smallpox scars. She was adopted by two aunts and an uncle. Though the Mohawk were very anti-Catholic at that time, through a treaty agreement Catholic priests were allowed to come to Kateri’s village to instruct in the faith those whom the Mohawk held captive from other tribes. After overhearing the instructions being given to these captives, Kateri converted to the Catholic faith as a teenage. She was baptized at the age of twenty with the reluctant approv-al of her uncle and was treated with great hostility by her tribe afterward. Despite incurring great suffering for her faith, she remained firm in it and ultimately fled to the new Christian colony of Indians in Canada. Here she lived a life dedicated to prayer, penance, and care for the sick and aged. Every morning, even in bitterest winter, she stood before the chapel door until it opened at four and remained there until after the last Mass. She was devoted to the Eucharist as her source of strength and to daily meditation on the suffering of Jesus crucified. She often re-treated to a quiet place in the nearby forest to meditate on a wooden cross she had made to symbolize the death that Christ suffered for her sins.
Kateri died April 17, 1680, at the age of twenty-four. At her death, the disfiguring smallpox marks fell from her face and its beauty was restored. She is known as the “Lily of the Mohawks”. The holy life of Kateri has inspired the faith of many Catholic Native Americans in the U.S. and Canada, who now form Kateri Circles to pray for her canonization as a saint. Hundreds of thousands have visited shrines to Kateri erected at St. Francis Xavier, at Caughnawaga and at her birthplace.