The Catechism of the Catholic Church on the Our Father #6

October 8, 1995
Brother John Raymond

	We pray so often "Give us this day our daily bread" in the Our
 Father. On the surface one could take this as a petition to God for
 daily food. Certainly it can remind us that the food we eat is
 provided by God. We should thank God for our "daily bread." In this
 age of supermarkets one can easily forget that our food ultimately
 does depend on God. I believe farmers have a keener awareness of
 this. For instance, in Florida a few days of frost in Orlando wiped
 out many orange groves permanently. It doesn't take much to turn a
 farm into a disaster. The rest of us feel secure that when we go to
 the supermarket the food will be there. It never seems to cross our
 minds that there could be a shortage. So we should be thankful to
 the Father__for what we receive. Like children we look to Our Father
 to sustain us and give us what we need.
	But are we only praying for food in the Our Father? In the Old
 Testament Moses crossed the desert relying totally on God for their
 life's sustenance. In the New Testament Jesus had compassion on the
 crowds and multiplied a few loaves of bread and fishes to feed five
 thousand men, not including women and children. But Jesus' concern
 for the people did not stop at satisfying their hunger. He promised
 a "living Bread." St. John's Gospel gives us the deeper meaning of
 this "Bread" mentioned in the Our Father. Jesus said, "'I am the
 Bread of Life. Your fathers ate the manna in the desert and have
 died...The Bread I will give is My Flesh for the life of the
 world.'" (6,48-52) The Christian sense of this petition "concerns
 the Bread of Life: The Word of God accepted in faith, the Body of
 Christ received in the Eucharist." (Catechism #2835) St. Augustine,
 considered by many to be the greatest theologian of the Church,
 understood it in these two ways, also.
	The Greek word "epiousios" (daily) is not found anywhere else in
 the New Testament and can be taken in various ways. In the temporal
 sense we have a similarity to the "this day" found in Exodus
 16:19-21. In the qualitative sense it can mean that which is
 necessary to sustain life or those goods sufficient for subsistence.
 Taken literally this word means "super-essential." In this sense we
 are asking for our "super-essential" bread, which can only refer
 "directly to the Bread of Life, the Body of Christ." (Catechism
	Amazingly enough, the Holy Eucharist has provided for some people
 more than spiritual food. In Portugal, Alexandrina de Costa
 (1904-1955) lived for many years only on the Holy Eucharist. She had
 no other source of nourishment. Some people did not believe that
 this could be true. So they placed her in a hospital and monitored
 her closely. Sure enough, she ate nothing else. Others in the past
 have had this experience too.
	Thanks be to God that we have this "Bread from Heaven" to sustain
 us on our pilgrimage through life. Such a great miracle takes place
 on the altars of our churches every day! The Father provides His Son
 through the power of the Holy Spirit to be our food, our life. How
 thankful we should be for such a great grace. There are many who
 have never received Holy Communion once in their entire
 life__perhaps never will. Jesus is so happy when we desire to be
 united with Him in Holy Communion. The Father is happy to give us
 His Son. Can we let a day pass without eating? How much more without
 Jesus__"Give us this day our super-essential Bread."