The Catechism of the Catholic Church on the Our Father #2

August 13, 1995
Brother John Raymond

	Continuing my discussion of the Our Father I would like to
 consider "Our Father Who art in Heaven," which we pray so many
 times. What are we saying when we are praying this? Do we really
 appreciate the fact that we call God our Father? Other religions
 accept and teach God as Almighty, Holy, etc. But these same
 religions would consider it a sacrilege to refer to God as our
 Father. Our Lord Himself was accused of just such a charge by the
 Jewish leaders.
	The Holy Mass introduces the "Our Father" by saying, "and so we
 have the courage to say." I don't think we are always fully
 conscious of how radical is the idea of God as Father. St.
 Athanasius (d. 373) wrote, "It is the great mercy of God that He
 becomes the Father of those to whom He is first the Creator." St.
 Augustine (d. 430) explains that "Man, created in the image of God,
 is not of the same nature as God, and therefore, is not His true son
 but he becomes His son through the grace of Divine Mercy." St.
 Ambrose (d. 397) tells us that we are begotten of God through
 Baptism. A holy person was told that the words of God the Father at
 Our Lord's baptism, "This is my beloved Son in Whom I am well
 pleased," apply to each of us at our baptism. Because of the grace
 given to us by the Holy Spirit we can participate in that unique
 Father-Son relationship in God.
	The Catechism of the Catholic Church tells us what effect our
 adoption by God should have on us__continual conversion and new
 life. (#2784) By having God as our Father we should have the desire
 to be like Him. For example, St. Ambrose tells us that when men
 practice mercy it makes them perfect in that it imitates the perfect
 Father. There is no greater honor one can give one's parents than
 imitation. A father is so pleased when his son takes over the
 business he started. We have that wonderfully interesting
 expression, "Like father like son." Our Lord told us, "Be perfect as
 your Heavenly Father is perfect." He, of course, was the perfect
 image of His Father__"He Who sees Me sees the Father."
	Another aspect of God as our Father is the trust and intimacy we
 should have toward Him as His children. The monastic writer John
 Cassian (d. 435) tells us that the prayer of the Our Father is
 fulfilled when we speak to God as our Father with love, familiarity
 and devotion. Jesus taught us to have this confidence in God as our
 Father. We are to ask Him for what we need knowing that He will give
 us that which is good for us. Some people have been damaged in
 relating to God as Father by the poor example of their own father.
 But we should remember that God does not have any negative
 qualities__only positive ones. Whatever image we may have of a
 perfect father, God far exceeds it.
	God is in Heaven, as we say in the Our Father. Perhaps some
 people take this to mean He is distant from us. But we are told in
 the Catechism that this biblical expression does not mean a place
 but a state of being, not a distant God but a majestic one. (#2794)
 St. Augustine interprets God's Heaven as being in the hearts of the
 just. Also, that those who pray this "should desire the one they
 invoke to dwell in them." St. Cyril of Jerusalem (d. 386) explains
 that "Heaven" could refer to those "who bear the image of the
 heavenly world and in whom God dwells." Being with God is Heaven.
 Our guardian angels who are at our side day and night have not left
 heaven. We can say that Heaven is all around us and in us__we just
 don't have the eyes to see it. As St. Catherine of Siena (d. 1380)
 liked to put it, "All the way to Heaven is Heaven." In other words
 Heaven does not begin when we die, it has already begun by grace in
	With these reflections on the opening words of the Our Father let
 us deepen our appreciation and love for our Father. Let us grow in
 this relationship with our "Abba"__which means Daddy!