In today’s reading, Jesus teaches us to pray by praying the Our Father. For us Catholics, this is a very familiar prayer that rolls off our tongue easily. Sometimes it can be very automatic and robot-like. During my prayer and reflection this morning on the daily scriptures, I ran into a wonderful breakdown of the Our Father that makes you think deeper about each part of the Our Father. At St. Monica Parish in Indianapolis, they have a group of people that take turns writing reflections on the weekly readings. I have found them to be a refreshing source of experiences of the scripture readings. This morning’s reflection was from Deacon John McShea on an experience he had that opened his eyes to a deeper understanding of the beautiful prayer Jesus gave us. You can sign up to get an email of each weekday reflection at:
Here is Deacon McShea’s reflection on the Our Father:
Decades ago my journey back to faith was sparked at a Boy Scout Camporee. A Camporee is a quarterly camping experience where several troops camp together and have scouting skill competitions.
One of the points of the Scout Law is that a scout is reverent and so there is an ecumenical Sunday service at the Camporee. At one such service the Lord’s Prayer was presented in a way which challenged both the scouts and the leaders, including me. In the amphitheater the presenter started the Lord’s Prayer. But after every phrase someone from the back interrupted with a challenge:
OUR: I cannot say Our, if my religion has no room for others and their needs.
FATHER: I cannot say Father, if I do not demonstrate this relationship in my daily living.
WHO ARE IN HEAVEN: I cannot say who art in heaven, if all my interests and concerns are in things and possessions.
HALLOWED BE THY NAME: I cannot say hallowed be thy name, if I, who is called by God’s name, am not holy.
THY KINGDOM COME: I cannot say thy kingdom come, if I act as though I am the center of the universe.
THY WILL BE DONE: I cannot say thy will be done, if I am unwilling or resentful of having it in my life.
ON EARTH AS IT IS IN HEAVEN: I cannot say on earth as it is in heaven, unless I am truly a person for others, willing to serve and help wherever it is needed.
GIVE US THIS DAY OUR DAIL BREAD: I cannot say give us this day our daily bread, without doing my part to provide for the needs of all those around me.
FORGIVE US OUR TRESPASSES AS WE FORGIVE THOSE WHO TRESPASS AGAINST US: I cannot say… as we forgive those who trespass against us, if I continue to harbor a grudge against anyone.
LEAD US NOT INTO TEMPTATION: I cannot say lead us not into temptation if I deliberately choose to remain in a situation where I am likely to be tempted.
AND DELIVER US FROM EVIL: I cannot say deliver us from evil if I am not prepared to back up my plea for God’s help with constant prayer.
AMEN: I cannot say Amen, unless I honestly say, “Cost what it may, this is my prayer.”
You may feel that this was tedious or irreverent, but that prayer experience changed my understanding of the Lord’s Prayer from something to recite, to a prayer to aspire to fulfill in my spiritual life. That prayer experience evangelized me.
Deacon John McShea
Peace and Blessings,