078: Unpacking the Our Father

Picture of by Matthew Leonard
by Matthew Leonard

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Parts of it should actually scare you.

All of it should inspire you.

The Our Father is the most famous of all prayers, taught to us by God himself.

And while you’ve probably droned through it a few thousand times, have you ever really dug into what you’re saying?

For a long time, I hadn’t. And my guess is it’s the same for many of you.

So in celebration of the upcoming (at least in many countries) Father’s Day holiday, I thought I’d pay homage to the Our Father on the Art of Catholic podcast, by unveiling the inner logic of Christ’s own prayer.

Because this isn’t just a prayer, it’s a deep, rich teaching that provides a window into the very identities of both God and man, and our incredible relationship.

I have a chapter devoted to this deep and beautiful prayer in my book, “Prayer Works: Getting a  Grip on Catholic Spirituality.” So I thought I’d just do a kind of audio book reading of that chapter for you.

In it, we’ll cover things like:

  • The incredible power of words
  • The scariest petition ever
  • All the forms of prayer
  • The order in which we should ask for things from God
  • The meaning and theology underlying each petition of the Our Father

After listening to this episode, my guess is that you’ll never pray the Our Father the same way again.

Happy Our Father’s Day!


P.S. I’m heading back to Italy! Join me in March 2019 for an amazing pilgrimage to Rome, Assisi, Orvieto, LaVerna, and much, much more!

Check it out here!






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8 Responses

  1. Hi Matt,

    I was wondering if my line of thought here is valid.

    In the old covenant, we see several laws that come under the moral law. In a lot of cases the punishment for violating these laws is death. The phrase used many times is that the one guilty will be “cut off” from Israel.

    In the new covenant, the moral laws remain. Is it right to assume that all of the cases where the punishment was death are what constitute mortal sin? Mortal sin does “cut us off” from grace and is a spiritual death. It seems to be the case with the examples I can think of but I wanted to know if it’s true in general.

    1. Hi, Ashwith. Interesting question. I’d have to go study all the examples in the OT more to give a definitive answer, but off the top of my head I guess I’d approach it like this: There is some correspondence between the Old and New Law. The serious moral sins in the OT are still serious sins in the NT. That said, Christ internalized and intensified the Old Covenant law which kind of put a different spin on things. For example, adultery was punishable by death in the OT, but now just looking upon a woman lustfully is adulterous. Of course, lustful thoughts are sin, but not mortal sin unless you act upon them. (Concupiscence is not a sin.) That said, there’s also a sense that even if you don’t act on them, the more you dwell upon them, the “greater” the degree of the sin, so to speak, and you need to confess it. (And the longer you dwell on them, the more likely they are to lead to an action that is definitely mortal sin.) So there are a lot of nuances and levels to how sin is qualified and quantified by the Church. But to your point, the Catechism says this:
      1857 For a sin to be mortal, three conditions must together be met: “Mortal sin is sin whose object is grave matter and which is also committed with full knowledge and deliberate consent.”
      1858 Grave matter is specified by the Ten Commandments, corresponding to the answer of Jesus to the rich young man: “Do not kill, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and your mother.”132 The gravity of sins is more or less great: murder is graver than theft. One must also take into account who is wronged: violence against parents is in itself graver than violence against a stranger.

      So while there’s definitely a kind of correspondence, I’m not sure I’d say it’s a direct line. Maybe I’ll ask Curtis to address it in a Next Level Scripture segment:). God bless you!

      1. Thank you for such a detailed explanation Matt! Indeed I have struggled to discern whether a sin is mortal or not. I mean I’d confess it if I wasn’t sure, but it has more to do with me being able to receive the Eucharist.

  2. Most edifying! Special indeed. How exquisite is our Catholic Faith. Thank you for an engaging presentation. God bless you and your family.

  3. Most edifying! Thanks for a wonderful presentation. Makes me appreciate my Catholic Faith more. God bless you and your family.

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