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484 • Part IV. Prayer: The Faith Prayed

We Address the Father

Before we make our own this first exclamation of the

Lord’s Prayer, we must humbly cleanse our hearts of

certain false images drawn “from this world.” Humility

makes us recognize that “no one knows the Son except

the Father, and no one knows the Father except the

Son.” . . . The purification of our hearts has to do with

paternal or maternal images, stemming from our per-

sonal and cultural history, and influencing our relation-

ship with God. God our Father transcends the catego-

ries of the created world. . . . To pray to the Father is

to enter into his mystery as he is and as the Son has

revealed him to us.

—CCC, no. 2779, citing Mt 11:27

Our Father

We call God “Father” only because Jesus, the Son of God made man,

revealed him as such. Because of our union with Jesus through Baptism,

we are given the grace of an adopted, filial relationship with the Father.

This begets in us a new self-understanding due to this extraordinary inti-

macy with the Father and the Son. A term that our Lord uses for Father

is “


!” This implies that Jesus is saying that a relationship with God

should be like that of a child, very close, personal, and dependent.

While we recognize that there is no gender in God, we will be

inclined to draw upon our experiences with our earthly fathers when

thinking of this title for God. The image of a human father is generally

a positive one, and this helps us to draw near to God as Father. Yet,

sadly, there are cases of fathers who have fallen short of the responsibili-

ties of fatherhood.

An understanding of God as Father is already evident in the Old

Testament, where God describes himself as being in a special relation-

ship of providential care for the people of Israel and in particular for

their king. Jesus’ revelation of God as his Father flows from a profound

awareness not only of that same providential care but also of an inde-