Tuesday, February 19, 2013

The Our Father; a lenten meditation.

 Check out the Lent reflections participating in the Keep LOVE in LENT Blog Link-Up 2013! We'll be sharing different ways, tips, stories and real-life experiences that will help us focus on Lenten sacrifices, prayer and good deeds, and how to carry them out with LOVE instead of a GRUMBLE.


Every other Sunday my entire family gathers at my grandmother's house to share a meal and each others company. We've been doing this ever since I was a little kid, and it's become an integrated part of our lives. My grandmother subtly gave me the beginning  of the faith that I have today, I can remember when I was in elementary school and my grandparent's would come pick me up for the 4:00pm Saturday Vigil at our local parish. She would help me with my religion homework after school. And she quietly offered prayers for me and resources to help me grow in the Catholic faith. My grandparents paid for many of the more expensive retreats and conferences that I attended for church, and they always set the example that faith in Christ was an important aspect of life. She has been gifting annual subscriptions of the Magnificat to me since I was in high school and this past weekend, she gave me a copy of the Magnificat Lenten Companion booklet. That was a really long story for a post that will be completely unrelated to this paragraph, but thought it important to mention...

I started reading the companion yesterday on the "Monday of the First Week of Lent." and I enjoyed the short meditation quite a bit. I again picked it up and read it this morning before I left for work and so that's what this post is really about.

Today's reflection was entitled "Speak, Lord, Your Servant Is Listening." The reflection was based loosely on the Book of Samuel when he responds to the Lord's calling with the phrase "Speak, Lord, your servant is listening." It goes on to explain that the prayer should not be "Listen Lord, for your servant is speaking." That got me to thinking that a lot of times our prayers end up being the "Listen Lord" prayer and they don't include the part where we listen for the voice of God. I think it is natural and healthy for us to list our problems and woes in prayer, after all, prayer is supposed to be a conversation between us and our God, but we don't take the time to listen to what he tells us to do about it. We end up telling him what needs to be done. We cannot and should not try to bend the will of God to our own, but to bend our will to His. We should be the one to submit, not the King of Kings. When we submit to His will is when He can really start to work in us, to change our hearts to be more like his, loving. Our salvation ultimately depends on our willingness to submit to the one who gave his life for our eternal salvation.

It's hard for our human nature to do so. The world that we live in is so radically opposed to submitting. It teaches us in doing so we loose grip on our realities, we loose control and that's what everyone wants. The culture tells us if we want something to take it, instant self gratification. The Lord teaches us that sometimes we have to wait for the things that we want, and that if we want true happiness, everlasting happiness, that we must follow him, carry our crosses of sacrifice, and follow his commands.

Each day after the reflection the Magnificat gives a "penance." Today's one was to spend ten minutes reflecting on the meaning of the Our Father. And so, I'd like to share my reflection with you...

First it is a very unifying prayer. The Christian church is very separated today. After countless schisms with Rome, and then schisms from the schism there are countless denominations out there. The Our Father, more than any other prayer, is uniquely universal. It was estimated that over 2 Billion Catholic, Anglican, Protestant and Eastern Orthodox Christians prayed the prayer on Easter Sunday in 2007. It's a very connective prayer in a very disconnected world.

It's also very ancient, Matthew recorded it as the way Jesus taught us to pray some near 2,000 years ago. It's interesting to reflect on how many generations of our families have prayed that prayer throughout the course of history.

Even though it's ancient, its still very relevant and rich with meaning. It has the same effect today as it did when the first disciples spoke it and used it to help spread Christianity throughout the world.

Our Father, who art in Heaven, Hallowed by Thy name.
We are taught to call God our Father. Abba. I've recently become a father, and until I became one I don't think I fully understood the significance of this. Father is such an intimate term, a special bond shared between two people. I love my wife with my whole being, and I would do anything for her, but the love that I feel for my daughter is indescribable. God teaches us that we can go to him with a childlike love and confidence. Obviously we know that our God reigns in Heaven, and as the ten commandments teach us, His name is to be respected and revered above all else.

Thy Kingdom come, Thy Will be done, on Earth as it is in Heaven.
This line calls us to give obedience to our Father, when we say His will is to be done on Earth and in Heaven, again, us bending to His will and not Him bending to ours. This is not to say that he does these things for His satisfaction, but for the favor of his children. Much like if you tell a child not to do something, its for their own good. When you say "Don't stick that crayon in your nose" you don't say it because it'll make you happy if they don't, but because it will hurt them if they do it. I think that is the same concept seen here. We are asking God in this line to give us guidance and to keep us safe by our willingness to follow His will. 

Give us this day our daily bread.
"Our Father," "Give Us," "Our Bread." This prayer is very communal. We aren't saying, My Father, or give me my daily bread. We are coming together to call the name of God. We are asking Him to give us our daily portions. We we ask him for our daily bread, I think it means that we are asking Him to nourish us in Body, Spirit and Soul. Asking Him to sustain us in faith. I also feel that when we ask God to give us our bread, it's a very charitable move. I'm not asking him to just to sustain me, but rather to sustain all of his creation. It calls us to be very mindful of the needs of our brothers and sisters that have been entrusted to our care.

And Forgive us our Trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.
Forgiveness is one of the main aspects of Faith in God and also in the Catholic Church. We are always reminded to forgive people when they hurt us. And with the Sacrament of Reconciliation we ask God to forgive us when we hurt him and the people around us. This one is a little bit harder for me.  It's hard for me to just let somethings go quickly. I know its not good for me to hold on to things, and generally speaking I eventually get over whatever it is, but I need to apply this part of the prayer more in my life. In forgiveness we gain a certain amount of freedom. Freedom from anger, frustration and resentment.Freedom to have joy.

And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
God won't lead us into temptation. I think we all know that. But what we are asking here is more of a, "God, I know I have free will, help me to use it the right way." We come to certain choices in our lives when the two sides are not black and white, and when we hit that grey area where its hard to see what is the will of God, we need to remember this part of the prayer, and ask Him to lead us out of the temptation to choose the wrong choice, and to deliver us from the evil of that wrong choice. We should constantly ask him to free us from the choice of Sin and to help us to remain pure according to his Word. 


This Lent I will be slowing down when praying the Our Father at Mass, and during prayer times. It's important for us to slow down and look at prayers we recite often so that they don't become just words and formulas but they become for us meaningful expressions of our Love of God. I will ask God to help me to forgive more easily and freely. And finally I'll ask God to remind me that His Fatherly love and Grace is sufficient and that all I have to do is ask for it with a child-like heart and complete trust in Him.

I hope this reflection and breakdown of a very common prayer in all of our lives helps you to meditate on many of the other prayers that we carelessly rattle off at the prescribed times and helps you to reconnect to the true meaning of our cherished prayers.

How will you let God have the intimate Father-Child relationship he so desperatly wants with each of His children this lent?

+Chad.

P.S. for those of you hopping over from the Catholic Bloggers Network Keep Love in Lent Link Up please feel free to check out other posts on my blog too, and if you like the content, please follow my blog! Below is a list of other great catholic blogs that participated in the link up, please visit them and show them some love too! Happy Lent.

Discover new Catholic Blogs to follow!

Building Rocks (pending)
Sole Searching Mamma: 15 Ways to Experience a More Meaningful Lent
Catholic All Year: My Biggest Lent Fails and How I Learned Mortification...

Four Little Ones: Keeping Love in Lent
Gaels Crafty Treasures Keeping Love in Lent
Bear Wrongs Patiently: Lent for the Scrupulous
Rosary Mom: Keeping Love in Lent
LoveLetters 7.10: Teacups {Keeping the Love in Lent}
Little Saints in the Making: Keep Love in Lent
Blessed with Full Hands: Keeping love in Lent- Praise Him
Normal Chaos: Our Own Personalized Lenten Journey
These Little Blessings: Gifting Love this Lent

29 comments:

  1. I love the hymn "Here I am Lord", based on the book of Samuel. There are many times when I don't know what His will is. The line of the hymn "I will go Lord, if you lead me" is now part of my prayers. A blessed Lent to you and your family.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's one of my favorite hymns as well! thanks for stopping by!

      Delete
  2. Hello, I really liked your blog!, I have a blog that I use for evangelism, training, dissemination and preaching the Word of God and related topics, such as the doctrine of our Holy Catholic Church, and raise our related articles faith, philosophy and Christian theology. I'd like you to pass and have the possibility to recommend it, I am deeply grateful! May the Lord bless your life, and your projects!
    http://apostol-totustuus.blogspot.com/

    ReplyDelete
  3. Hi Chad! Thank you for sharing this blog. I really enjoyed reading your story. Your reflection is also very good, really impressive actually. I have learned a lot from reading your post and I'm looking forward to reading more of your blogs in the near future. May God bless you! :)

    ReplyDelete
  4. My mom sounds a lot like your grandmother with regards to spreading and sharing her faith with the family and encouraging prayer.

    I'm glad I found your blog.

    God bless

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks! My grandmother is an amazing person and that little paragraph doesn't even scratch the surface as to the impact she has had in my life and the life of my family. Thanks for posting!

      Delete
  5. I started reading this and had to stop and do a little post on how much I miss my grandmother. But what a great reminder to slow down during our prayers. A lot of time the prayers can just be rote memorization, but how much more meaningful they are if we reflect on what we are saying.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's funny how that happens, sometimes when I'm reading something I get the "I've got to blog about that now!" feeling too. Thanks for stopping by.

      Delete
  6. I am taken aback by how much this post reminds me of my own - but on a larger scale. Slowing down, listening to the voice inside of us, and honoring those around us (not just God) by truly listening to them, as well.
    Also, the break down of the Our Father was very helpful.
    Thank you for this post!

    ReplyDelete
  7. I think that what God wants from His children is 'quality time'. I will try to keep certain hours of the day just for Him, praying and reflecting. Nice post, Chad!

    ReplyDelete
  8. Thanks, Chad -- I love that I can pray the same prayers that have connected centuries of people, the same prayers that connect so many today. Good Lent to you and your family! (And I read your "About" page -- your first little one's been born now, yes? Congrats!)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hey Regina, I'm left awestruck when I think about the immense amount of history our faith brings with it. It's hard to imagine that 2,000 years ago people were without Christ but so close to receiving His saving presence and that people for the last 1900+ years have been reciting the same prayers as we do today. And yes, my little girl is a little over 4 months now, shes doing great and I need to post some current pics of her, she's such a ham.

      Delete
  9. Beautiful meditation! Thank you for putting so much prayerful thought into this. God bless you & congratulations on the arrival of your little one :)

    ReplyDelete
  10. One of my sons, when he was five, was dozing to sleep while I nursed a newborn in the same room. Suddenly he sat up, popped his eyes opened and said, "Some one was calling my name. I think it was God!"

    ReplyDelete
  11. I love your reflection on the Our Father, Chad. :) Thank you for reminding us of the beauty of this "simple" yet profound prayer! :) Thank you, too, for joining the link-up! God bless you and yours always! :)

    ReplyDelete
  12. I often think it is because of my grandparents' prayers and the way that lived their lives that I am, in my faith, where I am today.

    Thank you for sharing about your grandma and this great reflection . . . I have been really praying about the start of the "Our Father" for the last week. So, this really rang true with me too!

    ReplyDelete
  13. I LOVE this idea: "Every other Sunday my entire family gathers at my grandmother's house to share a meal and each others company. We've been doing this ever since I was a little kid, and it's become an integrated part of our lives." So much is grown from the domestic church -- and the extended domestic church. What a rich blessing your family has in this... And how richly you have blessed others with your meditation.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Such a beautiful post, Chad! I really enjoyed your reflection - it really gives me something to ponder over, especially today. God bless you and your family!

    ReplyDelete
  15. I agree with your other readers Chad! What a great post! Our parish priest did this recently for his homily. He asked us to sit down and close our eyes while he stated one line of the Our Father prayer then reflected on it. It was moving and I pray it took root in me and every one else present. I'm a big fan of the Magnificat too! Especially like their Lenten and Advent companions.

    May God bless you throughout your Lenten Journey!

    ReplyDelete
  16. Hi Chad,

    First of all, congratulations for your newborn, and welcome to fatherhood!

    Few months after my first son was born, I started writing a reflection about fatherhood, and I actually started my reflection with the "Our Father"! I never finished that reflection, but now I guess I will have to after reading your post.

    Enjoy being a father! Fatherhood is a double blessing: the child is a blessing to his father, and the father is a blessing to his child.

    God bless.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Congratulations! You have so much to look forward to and The Our Father is going to get even MORE awesome once you have heard it as interpreted by a toddler. My most recent went something like: Our Father who art in heaven, bread, trespass, trespass, meevil. Amen.

    ReplyDelete
  18. I'm stopping by from the Keep Love in Lent link-up...

    Great reflection on the "Our Father" prayer. It's so easy for those words to become familiar; so easy for us to forget their meanings since we pray the prayer so often. We do a similar reflection with the kids in a catechism class that I teach. We put each line of the prayer on cardstock, then cut it apart (like a puzzle), then discuss each line, then ask the kids to put it back together in the correct order. Such interesting discussions evolve! And it is amazing how much better the kids retain the prayer when they understand its deep meaning.

    Wishing you a meaningful Lent.

    Cheryl
    http://www.diary-of-a-sower.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
  19. First of all, what a beautiful website! Secondly, thank you so much for sharing your wisdom with us. I just finished listening to Scott Hahn's talk (through Lighthouse Media) on the Our Father, and it was amazing - you shared some of his exact same thoughts! That prayer, which can often seem so routine to say, now has more meaning in my life. Have a blessed Lent! ~ Susan solesearchingmamma.com

    ReplyDelete
  20. I love your reflection on your Grandmother and how she has helped to shape your Faith. We are blessed to have strong, faith-filled Grandmas!
    I think it's wonderful to focus more intently on the classic prayers of our Faith. There are so many beautiful words and phrases that we can easily take for granted in classic prayers and the text of the Mass. Thanks for the reminder!

    ReplyDelete
  21. Beautiful Lenten reflection! Love your blog!
    From a fellow Catholic and Louisiana dweller.

    ReplyDelete
  22. Thanks everyone for all the great comments, looking forward to the next link up!

    ReplyDelete
  23. Everything has its own pros and cons, you have mentioned good post here with its real benefits. So in all a very nice post. Meditation Blogs

    ReplyDelete
  24. thank-you for putting my blog JoyofNine9 on your list- I will also send traffic your way

    ReplyDelete