The Catechism of the Catholic Church on the Our Father #1

Brother John Raymond
July 30, 1995

	It is good to meditate on, and learn the meaning of, the prayers
 we so often pray. One of these is the "Our Father." There are many
 commentaries on it. Not long ago I was talking to a Spanish speaking
 priest from Colombia, Fr. Ishmael, when he surprised me by saying,
 "Why do you say 'lead us not into temptation' in the Our Father in
 English? It is heresy to say that God leads people into temptation!"
 Well I thought about his statement and had to admit that he was
 right. God does not lead anyone into temptation. So how was I to
 answer him? Fortunately, I happened to have the Catechism of the
 Catholic Church close by. I looked up the commentary on the "Our
 Father." (#2777-#2865) It explained just what I had thought__God
 tempts nobody. So why do we use the word "lead." The original text
 of the Our Father is in Greek. The Greek verb used has two meanings,
 "do not allow us to enter into temptation" and "do not let us yield
 to temptation." These two different translations put the accent on
 us, not God. The first asks God to help us not choose the way of sin
 or near occasions of sin with our free will. The second is a
 petition asking God to preserve us from giving into temptation. So
 the word "lead" can be "misleading."
	There is the aspect, however, of good coming out of temptation.
 We can learn much about ourselves through temptation. We discover
 the evil inclinations within ourselves. Knowing these inclinations
 can help us to correct them along with petitioning God for his help
 to change them. Also, temptation allows us to see the grace of God
 already at work within us. We are able to resist things that before
 may have been our downfall. This helps us to remember to be grateful
 to God for his benefits both known and unknown. These temptations
 can be very beneficial to our spiritual growth. Through them we
 become more reliant on God and less presumptious of our own
	I remember someone in the hospital seeing this part of the Our
 Father meaning "do not subject us to the test." They saw temptation
 as a testing of fidelity. Now certainly it does do that. It is a
 sure principle that God (while respecting our free will to choose)
 will never allow us to be tempted beyond our strength. This still
 involves turning to God imploring His help. We can be assured that
 if we ask for it He most certainly will give it. This petition does
 this by asking the Holy Spirit to strengthen us during the
	Closely connected to this petition on temptation is the
 following, "But deliver us from evil," This is directed against our
 external enemy, the devil. The evil mentioned here is the evil one,
 the father of lies. He really is the origin of all suffering and
 sin. He was the first to disobey God and he dragged one-third of the
 angels with him. Then he tempted our first parents bringing death
 and suffering into our world. He would especially like all of us to
 join him in his miserable state in Hell for all eternity. If he
 can't get us to join him there he, at least, would like us to have
 less of a reward in Heaven. Fortunately, Our Lord came to "cast out
 the prince of this world." Jesus overcame sin and death. With His
 help we can always and everywhere overcome the devil. That is why we
 continually petition Him "deliver us from evil." Also, we petition
 Him to free us from all evils - past, present or future - that have
 their origin in the devil. We will, of course, only be rid of the
 devil for good with our entrance into Heaven.
	It is a fact that we pray as we believe. Let us examine the
 meaning of our prayers so as to understand correctly what we are
 praying for and what we believe.