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The Lord’s Prayer contains mysteries generally overlooked by most Christians. For the Fathers of the Church, such mysteries or "difficulties"—many of which continue to puzzle modern scholars—marked divinely inspired points for prayer and reflection. Saints Cyprian of Carthage, Augustine of Hippo, Peter Chrysologus, Maximus the Confessor and others grappled with the hidden meanings behind these questions and the fruits of their efforts can inspire contemporary readers.
In this volume John Gavin, SJ explores eight mysteries of the Lord’s prayer in light of the early Church’s wisdom: How can human beings call God "Father"? Where is God the Father? How can God grow in holiness? Was there ever a time when God did not rule? Are there limitations to God’s will? Why should we seek bread? Can we make a deal with God? Does God tempt us? Without ignoring the insights of contemporary exegesis, this volume demonstrates that the responses of the Fathers to these questions have continuing relevance. Not only did they understand the issues surrounding linguistic, textual, and theological difficulties, but they also grasped the nuances of Christ’s words as illuminated by the scriptures as a whole. They provide an interpretation that challenges the mind and transforms the heart.
Mysteries of the Lord's Prayer offers the general reader, as well as scholars, a chance to rediscover a prayer that unites Christians throughout the world. It also includes appendices to aid those who wish to explore the Fathers’ writings on their own for a deeper encounter with the wisdom of the early Church.
Rev. John Gavin, SJ is associate professor of religious studies, College of Holy Cross (Mass.). George Weigel is Distinguished Senior Fellow, Ethics and Public Policy Center, Washington, DC.
"A marvelous book. Learned, accessible, faithful, helpful, delightful. Will be very helpful for Christians who take prayer seriously."~Andrew Hofer, OP, Dominican House of Studies, Washington, DC
"The Church knows it is audacious to call God ‘Father’ (audemus dicere), but so we must. Inviting the Fathers of the Church to speak for themselves, Fr. Gavin's reflections bring saints like Cyprian, Ambrose, Jerome, Augustine, and Maximus into a living and deepening conversation for us who can all too quickly rattle off the one prayer that Jesus taught us."~Fr. David Meconi, SJ, Director, Catholic Studies Centre, Saint Louis University
"There are few things more central to the Christian prayer life than the prayer Jesus gave us. And there have rarely been better books unlocking the rich mysteries of that prayer than this wonderful little volume. Fr. Gavin, with the help of the profound treasures offered by the commentaries of the early Church Fathers,reflects on several fundamental questions posed by this famous prayer. How can we call God ‘Father’? What does it mean to become ‘children’ of God? Where and what is ‘heaven’? How can we grow in holiness by ‘hallowing God’s name’? What is the ‘kingdom’ we seek and how can we help its coming? Why do we ask for bread? (Hint: We need the Bread of Life.) How do we effect God’s will? How do we forgive as we have been forgiven? And why and how does God ‘tempt’ us? Read this book if you want to be able to pray the Lord’s Prayer with deep understanding rather than merely repeating for the umpteenth time words and phrases you’ve never thought about."~Randall Smith, University of St. Thomas, Houston, Tex
"This is an accessible introduction to the patristic interpretation of the Lord’s prayer while also showcasing its enduring value for Christian belief and practice."~The Furrow