Thursday of the Eleventh Week in Ordinary Time
Once about thirty years ago Catholics were allowed to experiment with a different version of the Lord’s Prayer. There were no “thy’s” in the new version nor was it said that the Father “art in heaven.” If I remember correctly, the experiment also called for “debts” to be forgiven, not “trespasses,” and that we are not to be put “to the test” rather than not led “into temptation.”
The purpose of the experiment, no doubt, was to enable us to be more conscious of what we are saying when we pray this quintessential Christian prayer. As Jesus in today’s gospel criticizes pagans for babbling, sometimes we may repeat the words of the “Our Father” without paying attention to the words and perhaps not even knowing what some of the words mean.
The experimental version evidently failed to impress on many people the need for changes. Many probably felt the traditional form was so embedded in people’s consciousness that mandating a change would just cause resentment. Still we should be careful not to rattle off the words of the Lord’s Prayer as if they were a magic formula for attracting God’s attention. Rather we should say the words with deliberation contemplating what they mean. To help us appreciate the import of this prayer, we may note that it is strategically spoken by Jesus at the heart of his Sermon on the Mount which forms the heart of Christian teaching.