In my last post, I spoke about the inexhaustible riches that can me mined from the Our Father prayer. I proposed three “invitations” at the heart of this pre-eminent prayer. The first was the Invitation to Purification.
In this post we will look at two more invitations.
#2: The Invitation to Filiation
Filiation refers to the power that God has given us, in Christ, to become his daughters and sons. We are adopted into the Divine Family (Father, Son and Holy Spirit), are partakers in his divine nature (2 Peter 1:4), and by his Spirit can cry out, “Abba, Father!” (Mark 14:36,Romans 8:15,Galatians 4:6)
You see, the opening words of this prayer, “Our Father” is not only revealing a profound truth about the very nature of the First Person of the Trinity, it is revealing us to ourselves! (Catechism, No. 2783).
Because we are deeply loved as his own, we can come to our Father with a fundamental disposition of a child to a loving parent. This disposition is called parrhesia: “the straightforward simplicity, filial trust, joyous assurance, humble boldness, [and] the certainty of being loved” (Catechism, No. 2778). There are few paragraphs in the Catechism I love more than this one because I regularly have to “sit” in the mystery of that truth. This is how my Father wants me to approach Him.
By the way, this disposition (sometimes called holy boldness) is what fueled the faith of the first followers of Jesus. It threads it’s way through the early Church in the Acts of the Apostles (Acts 2:29; 4:13, 29, 31; 28:31).
#3: Invitation to Imitation
Finally, a third invitation of the Our Father is the Invitation to Imitation. When we have faith in the Father’s character as a loving parent (Invitation #1), and love him with filial boldness (Invitation #2), it gives us the hope we need to face the challenges of life. But, it also comes with an incredible responsibility: making the Father and his love known to the rest of humanity. It cultivates a desire for us to become like him, to be living icons in the world that can counter the idols of God that have been created by some parents and religious teachers.
I regularly ask people in large audiences, “How many of you are catechists?”
About 10% will raise their hands.
I then say, “That was a trick question. Everyone is a catechist, because we all teach people every time we open our mouths or act in the world.”
The question I then often pose is, “What is your life teaching about the Lord?” (Tweet this.)
Following Up on Your Invitations
One of the key ways we can accept the Invitation to Imitation is by showing kindness, generosity and mercy to those around us. St. John Chrysostom made the point strongly, “You cannot call the God of all kindness your Father if you preserve a cruel and inhuman heart; for in this case you no longer have in you the marks of the heavenly Father’s kindness.”
Imagine how our families, parishes and dioceses would change if every Catholic walked in these three invitations of the Our Father? (Tweet this.)
Let’s close by gathering these last two invitations into a final prayer:
Father, you restored us to your likeness by grace. Help us, by that same grace to become a living icons of your love to a world looking and longing for your face. In your Son and by your Spirit, we will live in the joyous assurance and certainty of your love, while bearing that love clearly and courageously to those we will encounter. Amen.
Photographs via Wikimedia Commons
Now over to you:
How do you see yourself imitating the Our Father, and living as catechist in your everyday life?