A penance recently imposed upon me during Confession was to contemplate the Our Father. After thinking about how to go about doing this, it came to me that I should write some commentaries on the Our Father, going through it, and giving my own thoughts. This, I pray, may be a suitable means of not only of fulfilling my penance, but also inspiring my readers. Naturally, one could spend eternity reflecting upon this prayer which we loving call the Lord's Prayer.
In order to help with these commentaries, I shall use some images originally designed for children to teach them the Our Father, and to provide them with visuals of the prayer. For the rest of the commentaries, I shall use the Latin word Pater (Father) to refer to the Our Father (Latin: Pater noster).
In response to His Apostles asking Him to teach them how to pray, Our Blessed Lord directed them to pray the Pater. It is the only prayer ever taught man by God Himself, and it is the most perfect prayer, since it comes from God Who is perfect.
We begin the Pater by addressing God as Father. By this we profess our faith in the Person of God the Father, and also we recognise the Common Fatherhood of God as the Creator of all men, and the Adoptive Fatherhood of God of Catholics (and other lawfully baptised persons) as His baptised children.
Through the water of birth, God gives us natural generation; through the water of Baptism, God gives us spiritual generation. Like Christ, we die and are born again as a new man; the old man having died in the font, and the new man rising like Christ unto life eternal.
As the Creator of all things, and most especially of man, God is the Common Father of all life. For from Him the generation of each kind begins, continues and ends. After creating all things whatsoever He freely willed to create, He turned to the jewel of His creation: Adam. Just as He would condescend for man's salvation in the Person of Jesus Christ, God condescended down to earth, and taking the dust of the earth, He fashioned Adam according to that image, that icon, which Christ was to assume, namely, the human frame. But, not content only to form Adam in outward appearance like Christ, He breathed into Adam a soul; that is, He poured into Him His spiritual Image, and through that soul, He gave Adam intelligence, conscience, thought, emotion, and the like.
Yet, as with all life, God willed that Adam should not be alone in this world, even as God is not alone in His Divinity, for He is Trinity: One God in Three Persons. Thus, since God is a family within Himself, He willed that Adam should also be a family, and therefore He cast Adam into a sleep and brought from his rib his spouse, Eve, the woman, the mother of the living.
God then joined the two in matrimony, a foreshadowing of Christ's own marriage to the Church. Through this union of man and woman, God willed that children be brought forth, that is, that man should generate upon the earth, even as all life generates.
Yet, even in the beginning, God showed His Paternity for He had care of their material needs. He did not leave Adam and Eve in a deserted place, but rather created a garden of pleasure for them, and caused for them fruits to grow, upon which they could feast and lawfully satisfy their natural hunger. It was not ordained in the beginning for man to feast upon the flesh of beasts, but only on the fruits of the earth.
Through all these things, God showed His Paternity, and first reveals Himself as a Father Who cares for His creation. Even to this very day, God's providence over His creation continues, for nothing passes except under His gaze. Every cloud, every breeze, every flower, every insect etc., comes about under His direction. All things are within His Providence and nothing escapes His sight.
Yet, the question arises: If God is a Father, why does He allow evil in the world? Such a question, when asked in faith and in expectation of a good answer, brings us closer to Him. Yet, many ask this question to try and mock, deride or injure the faith we have in God as our Father.
Such a question involves a very deep theological answer, because of the complexity of its parts. This is not the place for such an answer, so I shall direct the reader to St. Thomas Aquinas and his Summa Theologica on this subject HERE and HERE. I also direct the reader to the Catholic Encyclopaedia's article on evil, HERE.
However, let me provide a type: a father teaching his son to ride a bike without stabilisers foreknows that his son is going to fall off the bike and hurt himself. Does the father will this evil upon his son? Of course not! However, he permits the evil to happen in order to train his son. He still comforts his son when the evil does happen, and he warns him beforehand that it will happen, but he doesn't prevent it; if he did, his son wouldn't be on the bike in the first place! In a similar way, God allows evils in the world for many reasons, such as:
1) Physical evils are a punishment for moral evils;
2) Without evil, as St. Thomas teaches, we wouldn't have justice, for we wouldn't know how to reward the good and punish the wicked;
3) Without metaphysical evil, the universe would be less perfect (this may seem unbelievable to some, but St. Thomas explains).
4) Without evil, there would be no charity, since we would have no experience of the starving children in Africa (a common objection used by atheists).
Moral evil came into the world because our First Parents, Adam and Eve, listened to the Devil rather than to God, and broke the only commandment He had given them: not to eat of a specific tree (until He said so). Imagine: Adam and Eve only had one commandment, and they couldn't even keep it! Because of them, we are now guided by endless laws, because our violent passions need constant correction. The Commandments are not there to restrict man, but to curb his concupiscence, which he inherits from Adam.
Yet whilst the Divine Father had foreknowledge of all things, He still permitted it to happen so that He could, once and for all, prove His Paternity: by sending His Only Son, Jesus, to die for our sins because He didn't want us to be forever separated from Him. For the Eternal Father so loved man, the fallen mess we had become, that He willed that He alone should wrought our redemption. God could have just willed us to be perfect; yet He didn't. God the Word became the Son of Man and died for us, suffered a bitter and most painful death, as everlasting proof of the Father's indulgent love for us.
Atheists, of course, think God should click His fingers and make everything perfect; but if He did, we would no longer have free-will, and the atheists would then complain that God was forcing them to perfection!
Next, we say: "Who art in Heaven". By this we profess that not only does the Father dwell in Heaven, but also that Heaven is God; for to be in God is to be in perfect beatitude: the Beatific Vision. As Hell is defined in is basic terms as separation from God, we can say that Heaven is in basic union with God.
By this profession we acknowledge our desire to be united to the Father in Heaven, and not to Him only, but also to Our Lord Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit, to the Holy Mother of God, to St. Joseph and all the Saints. In very deed, we desire perfect union with God and neighbour, and by this union we perfectly fulfill the Commandments.
By this profession we also recognise the perfect beatitude of God Himself, that He is perfectly happy within Him as Trinity, and that He needs nothing other than Himself.