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664

Part Four

In all the liturgical traditions, the Lord’s Prayer is an integral part of

the major hours of the Divine Office. In the three sacraments of

Christian initiation its ecclesial character is especially in evidence:

2769

In

Baptism

and

Confirmation,

the handing on (

traditio

) of the

Lord’s Prayer signifies new birth into the divine life. Since Chris­

tian prayer is our speaking to God with the very word of God, those

who are “born anew . . . through the living and abiding word of

God”

20

learn to invoke their Father by the one Word he always

hears. They can henceforth do so, for the seal of the Holy Spirit’s

anointing is indelibly placed on their hearts, ears, lips, indeed their

whole filial being. This is why most of the patristic commentaries

on the Our Father are addressed to catechumens and neophytes.

When the Church prays the Lord’s Prayer, it is always the people

made up of the “new-born” who pray and obtain mercy.

21

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In the

Eucharistic liturgy

the Lord’s Prayer appears as the

prayer of the whole Church and there reveals its full meaning and

efficacy. Placed between the

anaphora

(the Eucharistic prayer) and

the communion, the Lord’s Prayer sums up on the one hand all the

petitions and intercessions expressed in the movement of the

epi-

clesis

and, on the other, knocks at the door of the Banquet of the

kingdom which sacramental communion anticipates.

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In the Eucharist, the Lord’s Prayer also reveals the

escha-

tological

character of its petitions. It is the proper prayer of “the

end-time,” the time of salvation that began with the outpouring of

the Holy Spirit and will be fulfilled with the Lord’s return. The

petitions addressed to our Father, as distinct from the prayers of

the old covenant, rely on the mystery of salvation already accom­

plished, once for all, in Christ crucified and risen.

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From this unshakeable faith springs forth the hope that

sustains each of the seven petitions, which express the groanings

of the present age, this time of patience and expectation during

which “it does not yet appear what we shall be.”

22

The Eucharist

and the Lord’s Prayer look eagerly for the Lord’s return, “until he

comes.”

23

20

1 Pet

1:23.

21 Cf.

1 Pet

2:1-10.

22

1 Jn

3:2; cf.

Col

3:4.

23

1 Cor

11:26.

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