Today’s readings are packed with beauty and symbolism. But, for me, it was easy to choose which Scripture I would use. It just has to be the Gospel, when the Lord gives us his prayer.
In the beginning, Jesus tells his disciples not to babble on in prayer as do the pagans. Have you ever found yourself doing this? Trying to find either the most effective words, or perhaps too many words to express to God your desires? Or, worse yet, using these words because we are not sincere in our prayer? I used to ramble on. It seemed to me I had to go on-and-on about what I was praying for. For example: when praying for a friend who, perhaps, was suffering from an illness, I’d go on forever saying things like “Help my friend, Lord. She is suffering from cancer and needs your strength and increased faith. Help her doctors to clearly discern her situation and treatment”…and then comes the blah, blah blah extras. As I’ve aged, and I have aged, these prayers now come down to: “Dear Lord, give strength to my friend. She needs you. Your will be done.” Because I’ve also learned, as I’ve aged, that Jesus’ statement that the Father knows what we need before we ask him is very true. But that should not stop us from asking. It is as healthy for us to ask for our own spiritual well-being as it is for the person for whom we are praying. Asking God, asking Jesus, on behalf of others, strengthens our faith and confirms our reliance on his graces.
But I also wanted to share with your something about this Lord’s Prayer – I want to share with you how it has affected me over the years. Of all the prayers we learned as children, or have encountered in the books read or reflections we share, the Lord’s Prayer is the one that will bring me to tears in an instant. How often I’ve attended the funeral of a friend, family member or acquaintance, been in total control of my emotions until we pray or sing the Lord’s Prayer. It is at that point I will break down. I can’t tell you how many times during Mass if I’ve been hurting either physically or emotionally, that the Our Father will bring me to tears – to the point that I can no longer say the words out loud. What causes this? I’m not sure. It could be because Jesus gave us the most simple, most perfect prayer we could say and, for me, connects me so closely with him and God. This prayer will always bring me into the Father’s loving arms.
It was no happenstance that Jesus starts the prayer with “Our Father.” There is, I believe, a purpose to this. In our world, as well as in Jesus’ time on earth, many could not connect with the image of a father. In his great wisdom, Jesus gave us God himself, his father, as our father, and we cannot discount this. If you need a father; you have one. And, in turn, if you need a mother, Jesus also gave us his mother, Mary, to give us strength and example.
When you find yourself trying to pray, and just cannot come up with the right words, stop looking. Just say the Lord’s Prayer. It is all you need when the thoughts and words don’t come to you. God reads your heart and will know what to do with your faithful prayer.
One has to be of a certain age, and I am, to remember a wonderful singer, Perry Como. Perry was a devout Catholic and, from all I’ve learned about him, a wonderful man. He never closed any of his TV specials without singing either the Ave Maria or the Lord’s Prayer, and I believe he was the best. This was, of course, in a time when entertainers were not vilified for, or afraid of, such things. I’m sharing with you today a YouTube clip of Perry singing the Our Father from one of his shows that aired in 1957! Please, find a quiet place, close your eyes and listen. It will bring you to tears, and hopefully, closer to Your Father.
Jeanne Penoyar, an Accounts Manager here at Diocesan, is currently a Lector at St. Anthony of Padua parish in Grand Rapids, MI. While at St. Thomas the Apostle, Grand Rapids, Jeanne was a Lector, Cantor, Coordinator of Special Liturgies, Coordinator of lectors and, at one time, chair of the Liturgy Commission. In a past life, secretary/bookkeeper at the Basilica of St. Adalbert where she ran the RCIA program for the Steepletown parishes. And she loves to write! When relaxing, she likes reading and word puzzles. You can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.