Saturday, July 07, 2007

Praying with the Church

I haven't taken a look at Benedict XVI's motu proprio (literally- on his own initiative) letter on the Tridentine Mass yet. But in preparation for the squalls and storms which are no doubt to come in the wake of Summorum Pontificum I want to share a little bit of the Holy Father's new book Jesus of Nazareth. I have been reading it slowly and deliberately over the last several months.

This section on the introduction to the Lord's Prayer can be read and applied with profit by folk on all sides of the liturgical fence. In fact, I'd say this statement is a bell-weather for Benedict's dealings with the Church and for the Church as she exists today.... as always, a fractured and somewhat imperfect reflection of her glorious Lord's prayer.

"Finally, we need to consider the word our. Jesus alone was fully entitled to say "my Father," because he alone is truly God's only-begotten Son, of one substance with the Father. By contrast, the rest of us have to say "our Father." Only within the "we" of the disciples can we call God "Father," because only through communion with Jesus Christ do we truly become "children of God."

In this sense the word "our" is really rather demanding: it requires that we step out of the closed circle of our "I." It requires that we surrender ourselves to communion with the other children of God. It requires, then, that we strip ourselves of what is merely our own, of what divides. It requires that we accept the other, the others- that we open our ears and our hearts to them.

When we say the word our, we say Yes to the living Church in which the Lord wanted to gather his new family. In this sense, the Our Father is at once a fully personal and thoroughly ecclesial prayer.

In praying the Our Father, we pray totally with our own heart, but at the same time we pray in communion with the whole family of god, with the living and the dead, with men of all conditions, cultures and races. The Our Father overcomes all boundaries and makes us one family."

When we pray this way with the Church we hallow God's name, make His kingdon come, and do His will on earth.

May it be so.

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