This Is the Pater Noster:
Our Father, who is in Heaven, hallowed be your name. Your realm, or kingdom, come to you. May your will be done on Earth as it is done in Heaven. Give us today our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, that is our sins, as we forgive our debtors, that is men who have sinned against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. Amen, so be it. (Matthew 6:9-13).
When we say, “our Father, who are in Heaven,” we are taught to love each other as brothers of a single Earthly father and mother do, and much more, since God is our Father who created us from nothing. We are taught to live in meekness with one another, to desire Heavenly things like virtues and a holy life, and to do all our deeds, privately and publicly, for the honor of God and the bliss of Heaven. Our life ought to be “in Heaven” in this way, through holy desire and perseverance. Thus at the beginning we must be meek and loving to all men, both Christian and heathen, and to friends and enemies, otherwise we are not worthy to pray the Pater Noster.
When we say, “hallowed by your name,” we pray that we may be made holy and steadfast in virtues by the holy name of God and by his grace and virtue – that we may be holy by grace as God our Father is holy in himself. In this petition we devoutly ask for steadfastness of faith, without which faith we cannot please God. We pray that all kinds of pride, in thought, speech, deed, and all kinds of actions and appearances, be kept away from us, for such pride makes men into the children of Lucifer. And we pray that all kinds of true meekness ground us against pride, for true meekness makes us God’s children.
When we say, “your kingdom, or realm, come to you,” we pray that all men and women living in this world who will be saved, and all those who have died, come to the bliss of Heaven as soon as God wills it, in order to see our blessed spouse Jesus Christ and have endless joy with him and his angels and saints. For all angels and men and women who will be saved are God’s kingdom and holy church, and our Lord Jesus is king of this realm and head of this holy church. All those who will be damned to hell are the devil’s church or synagogue, and the devil is their false prince and king, or rather their tyrant. Here we ask for true hope and perseverance in order to have the bliss of Heaven by the mercy of our God and by our good life and by dying in perfect charity. In this petition we pray that all cursed envy and hate be kept away from us and that all fervent charity toward God and our fellow Christians be so steadfastly rooted in us that it never fails in this life, no matter what.
When we say, “may your will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven,” we pray that we may do the will of God without error and without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17), as the blessed angels always do in Heaven, and that we may do God’s will with full understanding and with great desire and joy and delight, not with complaints and heaviness of heart. In this petition we ask that in all things our will may be conformed to God’s will, so that nothing may separate our will and our love from God, who is endlessly good and just. And here we pray to acquire the high virtue of charity, without which all other things are not sufficient to bring us to Heaven. And here we pray that in every way God will keep us from wicked desires for worldly goods, so that we do not offend against God’s commandments or good conscience either by acquiring or keeping worldly goods. For he who gets or keeps his neighbor’s goods by breaking God’s commandments – for instance, by false oaths, false measures or weights, or any deceit – does not do God’s will but is a thief and traitor to God and his neighbors, according to God’s law.
When we say, “give us today our daily bread,” we pray for the sustenance necessary for our body, and to understand and keep God’s word, and especially God’s commandments, which are spiritual sustenance for our soul. And we pray that we have gotten this sustenance by true means, not by robbery or extortion, or deceit; and that it be used in the service of God and the fear of God; and that we humbly give thanks to God for all of his grace and the gifts that he gives us out of his great generosity. In this petition we pray to have the virtue of prudence, in order to know what sorts of sustenance are necessary and appropriate for us, and what we ought to do in return for God, and in what measure we should take this sustenance, in order that we may put aside all kinds of gluttony,, drunkenness, daintiness, and waste of food and drink. For gluttony and drunkenness make men love their belly and their gullet more than God almighty, for they make their belly their false god, as Saint Paul says, (Philippians 3:19).
When we say, “and forgive us our debts, that is our sins, as we forgive our debtors, that is men who have trespassed against us,” we pray that God may have mercy on us as we have mercy on those who have angered us. Certainly, if we have no mercy on those who trespass against us, then we pray against ourselves that God condemn us for our sins. Here men must forgive their neighbors for their rancor, hate, and ill will toward them, but they may lawfully pursue worldly debts, so long as they do so by just means and retain their patience and charity. And if men are poor and live justly and would gladly pay their debts, and if they work hard in truth to do so, and if they do not waste their few goods, then this prayer wishes that such poor men should not be imprisoned or punished but rather tolerated in patience and mercy until they can pay. In this petition we pray to have the virtue of justice, to put aside unreasonable wrath and vengeance and to keep ourselves steadfast in true mercy and patience against anger and unreasonableness, so that reason and mercy may govern well all our stirrings of heart, speech, and actions.
When we say, “and lead us not into temptation,” we pray that God may not allow us, by withdrawing his grace and his help, to be overcome by the temptations of the devil, the world, and fleshly desires and evil delights. It is beneficial to be tempted and to withstand temptations by the help of God and his angels, for thus is our merit and joy restored. But it is evil to be overcome by temptation, and that will only happen by our own negligence, sloth, and false desire for sin. Therefore, in this petition we pray to have the virtue of spiritual strength, to be strong by the help of the Holy Spirit against all temptations, and not to be obstinate in sin but to be diligent in holy prayers and good work and to bear in mind the shortness of the delight of sin and the bitter punishments of purgatory and hell. And if we wish, we will overcome all our temptations with diligence and by remembering these things, since God’s grace and help is available, and we will acquire our crown in Heaven forever.
When we say, “but deliver us from evil,” we pray that God may deliver us from all the evils of sin and punishment, both of body and soul, in this life and also in purgatory, and especially from the punishment of hell, and that we might not despair of God’s mercy on account of our having been used to sinning in the past. In this petition we pray to have the virtue of temperance, to take worldly goods and joys in such a way that we do not forget God in Heavenly bliss. And we pray to temper the stirrings of our flesh, so that we do not touch any woman except in true and lawful matrimony and in fear of God and not like beasts without reason, who set about their lusts and forget God and all his works. For the archangel Raphael taught Tobit that the devil has power over such men who dishonor the order of matrimony and act only according to their lusts and forget God and the fear of God and act as beasts without reason, (Tobit 6:16).
May God deliver us from all evil of sin, both hidden and public, especially from enduring in sin and despairing of God’s mercy, and from all bodily conflicts and vengeance and punishment, both in this life and in purgatory and hell. And grant us, by correct faith, to receive Heavenly bliss and true and perfect charity. So be it, Jesus, for your great mercy.
Certainly, this Pater Noster surpasses all other prayers in authority, wisdom, and benefit to both soul and body. It is of the greatest authority, for our Lord Jesus Christ, God and man, composed it and commanded Christians to say it. But other prayers are composed by men and contain no other meaning than the Pater Noster, unless it is error. Therefore, since Jesus Christ is more worthy than other sinful men, the Pater Noster is of more authority than prayers composed by other men, even if their prayers are good. This Pater Noster is more profound than other prayers, for it is made of the endless wisdom and charity of Christ and contains all topics for thought that are necessary both for body and soul in this world and in the other. Our Lord Jesus made it in few words and much wisdom, so that men should not be weighed down by it nor excuse themselves from knowing and saying it. It is of the greatest benefit, for if a man says it well, he will lack nothing that is necessary and profitable for virtuous life in the world to bring men to Heaven to have endless bliss in body and soul. Lord, how much they are to blame who busy themselves with prayers made by sinful men and neglect the Pater Noster, which is the best and easiest of all and contains all goods for the body and the soul. Blessed be this endlessly good lord, who out of his endless wisdom and charity taught this short prayer.