My beloved spiritual children in Christ Our Only True God and Our Only True Savior,
CHRIST IS IN OUR MIDST! HE WAS, IS, AND EVER SHALL BE. Ο ΧΡΙΣΤΟΣ ΕΝ ΤΩ ΜΕΣΩ ΗΜΩΝ! ΚΑΙ ΗΝ ΚΑΙ ΕΣΤΙ ΚΑΙ ΕΣΤΑΙ.
THE LORD'S PRAYER
By Archimandrite George of the Holy Monastery of Saint Gregorios, Mt. Athos - Greece
Meanings in Gospel discourse are formulated in the Holy Spirit and therefore with enduring value and view to eternity.
Every teaching, parable, story and description, as well as every phrase, every word and every "detail" contained in the Gospel of Christ is of greatest depth and significance. These are not exhausted by a mere superficial interpretation, the most our own poor spiritual measure can conceive.
This is also true of the God-given prayer known to us as "Our Father", which the Lord Himself gave to His Church as an example of prayer for all of us.
Our Holy Fathers lived the Gospel of Christ. They kept His Holy Commandments. Their life, their discourse became extensions of the Gospel, and their experience in the Spirit of God enriches the Holy Tradition of the Church. They reveal the great depth of the saving words of the Lord Christ and prove that His Commandments "are not heavy", but can be applied by Christians in any age, and thus they keep control over our lack of faith, neglect and sloth.
With our old and modern Holy Fathers as interpreters of the Lord's Prayer, we investigate and touch its depths, directing it to the Lord.
We beg Christ Our Savior to give His grace to us contemporary Christians, too, so that our life in Christ may be inspired and blessed by the prayer - as communion with the Living God. But also that, vice versa, our prayer may be an expression of the living presence of God in our life and may have its source. In other words, that prayer may be our life itself, which again will deepen and inspire the words which we direct towards our Holy God.
Our Holy Orthodox Christian Faith is not one of the ideologies or the philosophies or even one of the religions of this world.
The God of the Orthodox is not the god of the philosophers, that is to say, an idea or a highest, impersonal principle or a religious value, to which we are elevated beginning from the lowest values.
We, Orthodox Christians, believe in a personal God, the Father, the Son and Holy Spirit. This Trinitarian God reveals Himself to us through His Second Person, that of Our Lord Jesus Christ.
The Son of God becomes man, our Lord Jesus, preaches the Gospel, performs miracles, is crucified, is Resurrected from the dead, ascends into heaven and sends the Comforter, the Holy Spirit. All this, in order to unite us with our God the Father, to restore our disturbed relationship with Him and to bring us to a personal meeting, communion and union with God.
Since God is personal, we cannot meet Him except through the affectionate relationship with Him which prayer cultivates. If God was an idea, we could meet Him through logical evidence.
"Pray and love God in order to know Him", we can say to someone who is searching for God.
Through prayer, the Unapproachable God becomes approachable. The Unknown God becomes known.
The strange God becomes familiar and a friend. This is the path that Theanthrope (Godman), Our Lord, showed us. The Lord Jesus Christ often prayed, "Leaving behind an example, that we should follow in his steps".
He taught that we must pray with humility, with forgiveness and with patience. He also left behind a model, an exemplary prayer familiar to all Christians, the "Lord's Prayer", the "Our Father".
The value of this prayer is invaluable to us. First of all, because it was given by God. Secondly, because our Most Holy Mother of God, the Apostles, the holy Martyrs, the holy Fathers and the pious Christians of all ages have prayed and have been sanctified by it.
Thirdly, because it summarizes the whole Gospel and all the doctrines of our Faith.
According to Saint Maximus the Confessor, "This Prayer contains a petition for all things that the Logos/Word of God cause with the emptying of Himself (kenosis) during the Incarnation and it instructs us to see just those things that only God the Father, through the natural intercession of the Son, truly grants in the Holy Spirit. These gifts are seven: 1. Theology, 2. adoption through the grace of God, 3. equality with the Angels, 4. partaking in the Eternal Life, 5. restoration of the nature that impassively turns to itself, 6. abolition of the law of sin and 7. abolition of the tyranny of the devil who reigned over us with deception" (Interpretation of the Lord's Prayer", Philokalia, published by "Perivoli tis Panagias", vol. 2, p. 253).
This prayer is the pre-eminent prayer of the Church. In the daily Church services it is recited sixteen times, during Great Lent twenty-two times. Furthermore, it is, in a way, a summary of the Divine Liturgy.
For this reason and with our Holy Fathers as my guides, I have considered it useful in this sermon to invite you to examine thoroughly and to take pleasure in this prayer's divine and saving meanings, so we recite it with greater zeal and consciousness.
(To be continued. Next: Our Father Who art in Heaven...")
"Glory Be To GOD For All Things!"--Saint John Chrysostom
With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God