Baltimore Catechism 3

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The Our Father


 * Q. 490. Why is the Our Father the best of all prayers?
A. The Our Father is the best of all prayers because it is the Lord's Prayer, taught us by Jesus Christ Himself, and because it is a prayer of perfect and unselfish love.


 * See Scripture, question 476, Matthew 6:9-13.


 * Q. 491. Why is the Our Father a prayer of perfect and unselfish love?
A. The Our Father is a prayer of perfect and unselfish love because in saying it we offer ourselves entirely to God and ask from Him the best things, not only for ourselves but also for our neighbor.


 * > "Jesus said to them, 'My food is to do the will of him who sent me, to accomplish his work' " (John 4:34).

 * > See Scripture, question 189, Matthew 22:35-40.


 * Q. 492. Why do we address God as "Our Father who art in heaven?"
A. We address God as "Our Father who art in heaven," because we belong to Him, our loving Father, who created us and watches over us, who adopts us through sanctifying grace as His children, and who destines us to live forever with Him in heaven, our true home.


 * > "And God created man to his own image; to the image of God he created him. Male and female he created them" (Genesis 1:27).

 * > "But I say to you, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who persecute and calumniate you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven" (Matthew 5:44-45).

 * > "In my Father's house there are many mansions. Were it not so, I should have told you, because I go to prepare a place for you" (John 14:2).

 * > "In that day you shall ask in my name; and I do not say to you that I will ask the Father for you, for the Father himself loves you because you have loved me, and have believed that I came forth from God" (John 16:26-27).

 * > "For whoever are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. Now you have not received a spirit of bondage so as to be again in fear, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons, by virtue of which we cry, 'Abba! Father!' The Spirit himself gives testimony to our spirit that we are sons of God. But if we are sons, we are heirs also: heirs indeed of God and joint heirs with Christ, provided, however, we suffer with him that we may also be glorified with him" (Romans 8:14-17).

 * > "Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed upon us, that we should be called children of God; and such we are. This is why the world does not know us, because it did not know him. Beloved, now we are the children of God, and it has not yet appeared what we shall be. We know that, when he appears, we shall be like to him, for we shall see him just as he is. And everyone who has this hope in him makes himself holy, just as he also is holy" (1 John 3:1-3).

 * See Scripture, question 477, Matthew 6:25-27.


 * Q. 493. For what do we pray when we say "hallowed be Thy name?"
A. When we say "hallowed be Thy name," we pray that God may be known and honored by all men.


 * > "Let us sing a hymn to the Lord: let us sing a new hymn to our God."

 * > "O Adonai, Lord, greatest art thou, and glorious in thy power: and no one can overcome thee. Let all thy creatures serve thee: because thou hast spoken, and they were made: thou didst send forth thy spirit, and they were created. And there is no one that can resist thy voice."

 * > "The mountains shall be moved from the foundations with the waters: the rocks shall melt as wax before thy face. But they that fear thee, shall be great with thee in all things."

 * > "Woe be to the nation that riseth up against my people: for the Lord almighty will take revenge on them. In the Day of Judgment he will visit them. For he will give fire, and worms into their flesh, that they may burn, and may feel forever" (Judith 16:15-21).

 * > "Praise, ye servants of the Lord, praise ye the name of the Lord."

 * > "Blessed be the name of the Lord both now and forever."

 * > "From the rising of the sun unto its going down, may the name of the Lord be praised" (Psalm 112:1-3).


 * Q. 494. For what do we pray when we say "Thy kingdom come?"
A. When we say "Thy kingdom come," we pray that the kingdom of God's grace may be spread throughout the world, that all men may come to know and to enter the true Church and to live as worthy members of it, and that, finally, we all may be admitted to the kingdom of God's glory.


 * > "Even so let your light shine before men, in order that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven" (Matthew 5:16).

 * > "You therefore are to be perfect, even as your heavenly Father is perfect" (Matthew 5:48).

 * > "For the kingdom of God does not consist in food and drink, but in justice and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit" (Romans 14:17).

 * > "Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood can obtain no part in the kingdom of God, neither shall corruption have any part in incorruption" (1 Corinthians 15:50).

 * > "Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are immorality, uncleanness, licentiousness, idolatry, witchcrafts, enmities, contentions, jealousies, anger, quarrels, factions, parties, envies, murders, drunkenness, carousings, and suchlike. And concerning these I warn you, as I have warned you, that they who do such things will not attain the kingdom of God" (Galatians 5:19-21).


 * Q. 495. For what do we pray when we say "Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven?"
A. When we say "Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven," we pray that all men may obey God on earth as willingly as the saints and angels obey Him in heaven.


 * > "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven; but he who does the will of my Father in heaven shall enter the kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 7:21).

 * > "And he himself withdrew from them about a stone's throw, and kneeling down, he began to pray, saying, 'Father, if thou art willing, remove this cup from me; yet not my will but thine be done' " (Luke 22:41-42).

 * > See Scripture, question 491, John 4:34.


 * Q. 496. For what do we pray when we say "Give us this day our daily bread?"
A. When we say "Give us this day our daily bread" we pray that God will give us each day all that is necessary to support the material life of our bodies and the spiritual life of our souls.


 * > "Therefore I say to you, do not be anxious for your life, what you shall eat; nor yet for your body, what you shall put on. Is not the life a greater thing than the food, and the body than the clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they do not sow, or reap, or gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are not you of much more value than they? But which of you by being anxious about it can add to his stature a single cubit?

 * > "And as for clothing, why are you anxious? Consider how the lilies of the field grow; they neither toil nor spin, yet I say to you that not even in all his glory was arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which flourishes today but tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more you, O you of little faith!' Therefore do not be anxious, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or, 'What shall we drink?' or, 'What are we to put on?' (For after all these things the Gentiles seek); for your Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and his justice, and all these things shall be given you besides" (Matthew 6:25-33).

 * > "Jesus therefore said to them, 'Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man, and drink his blood, you shall not have life in you' " (John 6:54).

 * > "For my flesh is food indeed, and my blood is drink indeed" (John 6:56).

 * > "This is why we too have been praying for you unceasingly, since the day we heard this, and asking that you may be filled with knowledge of his will, in all spiritual wisdom and understanding. May you walk worthily of God and please him in all things, bearing fruit in every good work and growing in the knowledge of God" (Colossians 1:9-10).

 * See Scripture, question 476, Matthew 6:9-13.


 * Q. 497. For what do we pray when we say "and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us?"
A. When we say "and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us," we pray that God will pardon the sins by which we have offended Him, and we tell Him that we pardon our fellow men who have offended us.


 * > "For if you forgive men their offenses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you your offenses. But if you do not forgive men, neither will your Father forgive you your offenses" (Matthew 6:14-15).

 * > "Then his master called him, and said to him, 'Wicked servant! I forgave thee all the debt, because thou didst entreat me. Shouldst not thou also have had pity on thy fellow-servant, even as I had pity on thee?' And his master, being angry, handed him over to the torturers until he should pay all that was due to him. So also my heavenly Father will do to you, if you do not each forgive your brothers from your hearts" (Matthew 18:32-35).

 * > "And when you stand up to pray, forgive whatever you have against anyone, that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your offenses. But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father in heaven forgive you your offenses" (Mark 11:25-26).


 * Q. 498. For what do we pray when we say "and lead us not into temptation?"
A. When we say "and lead us not into temptation," we pray that God will always give us the grace to overcome the temptations to sin which come to us from the world, the flesh, and the devil.


 * > "The imagination and thought of man's heart are prone to evil from his youth" (Genesis 8:21).

 * > "Because thou wast acceptable to God, it was necessary that temptation should prove thee" (Tobias 12:13).

 * > "Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall. May no temptation take hold of you but such as man is equal to. God is faithful and will not permit you to be tempted beyond your strength, but with the temptation will also give you a way out that you may be able to bear it" (1 Corinthians 10:12-13).

 * > "Let no man say when he is tempted, that he is tempted by God; for God is no tempter to evil, and he himself tempts no one. But everyone is tempted by being drawn away and enticed by his own passion. Then when passion has conceived, it brings forth sin" (James 1:13-15).

 * > "Be sober, be watchful! For your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, goes about seeking someone to devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same suffering befalls your brethren all over the world. But the God of all grace, who has called us unto his eternal glory in Christ Jesus, will himself, after we have suffered a little while, perfect, strengthen and establish us" (1 Peter 5:8-10).


 * Q. 499. For what do we pray when we say "but deliver us from evil?"
A. When we say "but deliver us from evil," we pray that God will always protect us from harm, and especially from harm to our souls.


 * > "And call upon me in the day of trouble: I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify me" (Psalm 49:15).

 * > "I do not pray that thou take them out of the world, but that thou keep them from evil" (John 17:15).




 * We could not say a better prayer than that which Jesus Christ Himself taught us. Hence, the "Lord's Prayer," or "Our Father," has always been the form of prayer most frequently employed in the Catholic Church. It is the prayer which Our Lord taught us in His Sermon on the Mount (Matthew, 6:9-13), and was repeated by Him in substantially the same form on another occasion when the disciples asked Him: "Lord, teach us to pray" (Luke, 11:1-4). All the elements of prayer-adoration, thanksgiving, petition, atonement-are found in this brief formula; and because of its perfection, as well as its divine origin, the Catholic Church has always used this prayer in its public worship, and urges its members to recite it often in their private devotions. It is sung or recited in the Canon of the Mass, between the Consecration and the Communion; it is said frequently in the course of the Divine Office which priests and religious recite every day; it is one of the prayers that must be learned as a matter of obligation by all Catholics.

 * In the opening words of the Lord's Prayer we address as "Father" the three Persons of the Blessed Trinity. We say "Our" and not "My" Father to indicate that all human beings are members of one great family of which God is the Father, and that we should pray for one another, not merely for ourselves.

 * Most Protestants, in reciting the "Our Father" add the words: "For thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory." This phrase is found in some of the texts of the Scripture dating from early days, and in itself this expression is an excellent prayer praising God. Indeed, it is added to the "Our Father" by many Catholics of the Oriental rites. However, Latin Catholics do not say it because the more ancient and more reliable manuscripts of Scripture do not contain it, and the Church in the Latin rite has never adopted it.

 * In connection with the Our Father, it is appropriate to speak of the next best known prayer in the Catholic Church, the Hail Mary, and the favorite prayer of Catholics to the Mother of God. This prayer is divided into three parts: (1) "Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee" is the salutation given to Mary by the Archangel at the time of the Annunciation. For this reason the Hail Mary is sometimes called the angelic salutation. (2) "Blessed is the fruit of thy womb" is the phrase spoken by St. Elizabeth to Our Lady at the Visitation. (3) "Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death. Amen," is the part added by the Church.

 * The Catholic Church has always honored the Blessed Virgin Mary. However, the use of the "Hail Mary" developed only gradually in the course of the centuries. At first this prayer contained only the portions given in the New Testament in the words of the Archangel Gabriel and St. Elizabeth. Later, around the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, the custom arose of adding the words: "Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us." The form of this prayer as we have it today was officially approved by the Church in the year 1570.

 * There are many other vocal prayers to Our Lord, Our Lady and the Saints approved by the Church. These can be found in authorized prayer-books. Among the best known of these prayers to the Blessed Virgin are the "Hail, Holy Queen," the "Angelus," and the Litany of the Blessed Virgin. There are also other Litanies in use in the Church, especially the Litany of the Holy Name of Jesus, the Litany of the Sacred Heart, the Litany of St. Joseph, the Litany of the Saints, and the Litany of the Dying. Every Catholic should have a prayer-book and use the prayers according to his particular needs and devotion. Catholics should be on their guard against unauthorized prayers, especially those known as "chain-prayers," which people pass from one to another, and which are supposed to confer wonderful favors if recited a certain number of times. Such prayers are superstitious, and often even opposed to the Church's doctrines. A Catholic should destroy any copy of such a prayer that is given to him, and should refuse to pass copies to others.

 * In regard to the use of vocal prayers, two points are to be noted. First, we should recite these prayers carefully, and without too great haste. Some Catholics are very diligent in reciting many vocal prayers, but they mumble them hastily, mispronouncing and cutting off syllables. It would be better if they said fewer prayers, but said them reverently. Second, we must remember that prayers said with the lips are of no value unless they come from the heart. Hence, while reciting our vocal prayers we should try to avoid distractions and to be attentive to the great act we are performing.




 * Resolve that whenever you recite your prayers, especially the "Our Father" and the "Hail Mary," you will try to pronounce the words properly and realize that you are speaking to God or to the Mother of God.

 * Complete Exercises For Lesson 38





 * (Join correctly the parts of the sentences in Columns I and II, by placing the right key letter in the proper parenthesis.)


 * Column I


 * (1)The Our Father is the best of all prayers (...).

 * The first part of the Hail Mary (...).

 * We pray that all men may know and enter the true Church when we say (...).

 * We pray for grace to overcome temptation when we say (...).

 * We pray to be protected from all harm when we say (...).

 * Prayers said with the lips are of no value (...).

 * The Our Father as recited by Protestants (...).

 * If a Catholic finds a chain prayer (...).

 * The second part of the Hail Mary (...).

 * We call God "Our" Father (...).


 * Column II


 * Unless they come from the heart.

 * Was pronounced by St. Elizabeth.

 * Deliver us from evil.

 * Thy kingdom come.

 * Lead us not into temptation.

 * Because it was taught us by Jesus Christ.

 * Was pronounced by an angel.

 * To indicate that all human beings are one great family.

 * Is longer than the form recited by Catholics.

 * He should destroy it.



 * (Answer the questions orally or write them as your teacher may direct):


 * Every now and then after Holy Communion, Willibrord, instead of reading the of Thanksgiving from his prayer book, recites slowly and thoughtfully the Our Father from five to ten times. Do you think that he is making a good thanksgiving on such occasions? Why?

 * Earl, Columba, Rene, and Isaac are having a discussion. Earl claims that the Lord's Prayer is addressed to God the Father; Columba says it is to God the Son; Rene holds that it is directed to God the Holy Ghost, while Isaac maintains that the Our Father is said to the Most Blessed Trinity. Who is right?

 * Is the United States of America our true home, or is it elsewhere?

 * Olaf is making a campaign speech in behalf of religious and racial tolerance. Several times during his speech he uses the expression "the Fatherhood of God and the Brotherhood of man." Is there anything in the Lord's Prayer that indicates the truth of that expression?

 * How many kingdoms of God are discussed in this lesson? Where are they?

 * Elgius would like to know if the Hail Mary is a prayer of praise. If so, tell him who are praised in the Hail Mary.

 * Who were the first creatures to utter the terms of praise now enshrined in the Hail Mary?

 * Daphne, a Catholic teacher in a public school, once asked in a test "Who is the most truly privileged woman of history?" Some of the pupils in her grade answered "Florence Nightingale," others, "Martha Washington," "Mary, Queen of Scots," "Queen Isabella of Spain," and so on. Some of the children wrote the names of famous women living at the present time. Daphne was delighted to note that the five Catholics in her class, without exception, wrote "The Blessed Virgin Mary." Do you agree with them? Why?

 * When is it most important that we be in the state of grace? Why? Is there any prayer that you can say repeatedly between now and then that will help you at that moment? What prayer is it?

 * Jack and Tom get into a discussion about the meaning of the word "hallowed" in the Our Father. Jack contends that it means "shouted" while Tom says that it means "repeated." Can you settle the argument by telling in your own words the true meaning of "hallowed?"

 * Erasmus, Claud, and Crispin know the Litany of the Blessed Virgin by heart. Can you name four other litanies in general use-litanies approved by the church? Which are they?

 * Stephen, a Latin Catholic, Calvin, a Protestant, and Athanasius, a Greek boy all belong to the same football team. Once before an important game, they recited together the Our Father for the team's success. Stephen finished his first; Calvin and Athanasius both added an extra phrase at the end of theirs. What is that phrase? Why don't Latin Catholics use it?

 * Walter finds a chain prayer in the back of the church. He reads it, and becomes frightened because it threatens that bad luck will fall on the one who refuses to write the prayer out nine times and distribute it to nine others. Advise him what to do.

 * Eligius asked Fr. Honorius why it is that in the Our Father we ask God not to lead us into temptation. Since God is all-good and wishes us to avoid sin, it seems strange that He should ever lead us into temptation. What answer do you think Fr. Honorius gave to Eligius?

 * Marvin became angry at Juniper one day, because in a game of basketball Juniper was unnecessarily rough and kicked Marvin several times in the shins. When Marvin came home that afternoon he told his mother about the incident, and exclaimed angrily: "Juniper played a mean trick on me, and I won't forgive him until I have a chance to get even with him." His mother made no answer to this remark, but that night, as Marvin was about to go to bed, she remarked gently: "When you say your night prayers, I don't see how you can honestly say all that is contained in the Our Father." To what words of the Our Father do you think Marvin's mother was referring? How could he have disposed his soul so that he could have said those words honestly and sincerely?


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