Monday, January 4, 2010

Fr. Frank Pavone: Why the Our Father is a Pro-life Prayer (Part 1)

Fr. Frank Pavone
National Director, Priests for Life

The Lord gave us the Our Father as the model of all prayer, and in each line we receive insight as to why we are pro-life. Prayer itself is inherently pro-life because it puts God at the center of our lives and choices. The "pro-choice" mentality, instead, puts us at the center.

"Our Father". There is one Father of us all, the one who gives both divine life and the natural human life which is its pre-requisite. The Father is the Creator, and if he is "our" Father, then that means we are all brothers and sisters in one human family.

One Father entrusts us to the care of each other. We are to seek the good of one another. This is why Paul exhorts us to rejoice with those who rejoice and to weep with those who weep, and to bear one another's burdens. The first way we do that is to safeguard the most basic good each person has - life itself.

"Who art in Heaven." The Lord's prayer reminds us of our true home. If our Father is in heaven, then that is our home, too. Heaven is full union with God and with one another; it is, in short, the fullness of life.

We pray to the Father in heaven as we long to be there ourselves. Yet that longing does not diminish our concern for building a better world here. Rather, it energizes that concern, which translates into building the culture of life.

"Hallowed be thy name." When the People of God live in a way that reflects the holiness, justice, truth and love of God himself, then God's name is honored. In other words, God's people give God a good reputation, and the word "Christian" is something people want to identify with.

But when God's people are unfaithful, God's name is dishonored. This is what happens when God's people turn the other way and ignore (or sometimes participate in) the abortions that kill thousands of babies every day. This dishonors both the rights of that child and the name of God.

"Hallowed be thy name," through our commitment to life. "Hallowed be thy name," through the sacrifice we make to defend life, and the care we give to mother and child alike.

"Thy Kingdom Come!" When Jesus began his preaching he declared that the Kingdom of God had come among us. The kingdom, indeed, is already here. The Kingdom is Jesus himself, united with his members who, together with him, make up his Body, the Church.

Yet the kingdom is not yet here in all its completion. It continues to grow, and it continues to strive against many enemies.

God's Kingdom, as the liturgy says, is a kingdom "of truth and life, of holiness and grace, of justice, love and peace." This kingdom defines the culture of life, where the unborn and frail are welcomed and protected. Each time we pray the Our Father, let our longing for that kingdom increase.

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