from St. Teresa of Avila
Our Father Who Art In Heaven
O my God, how worthy art Thou to be the Father of such a Son, and how manifest it is that He is Thy Son indeed! Mayest Thou be for ever praised! Would not this great favour have come more suitably at the end of the prayer? From the very first Thou dost fill our hands and dost grant us a grace so great that it would be well if the understanding could be absorbed so as to preoccupy the will, and make us unable to say another word. How appropriate, my daughters, would be perfect contemplation here! Well might the soul retreat into itself, the better to rise above self, so that this holy Son might teach us what the ‘heaven’ is like in which He tells us that His Father abides. Let us leave this world, daughters, for we ought not to hold this favor so cheap, after we have once realized its value, as to remain on earth any longer.
O Thou Son of God and Lord of mine! Why dost Thou give us so much with the very first word Thou speakest? Besides humbling Thyself to the dust by joining Thy petitions to our own and by making Thyself the Brother of such miserable wretches as ourselves, Thou dost give us, in Thy Father’s name, all that can be given – Thou dost ask Him to make us His children, and Thy word cannot fail, but must perforce accomplish its object. Thus dost Thou bind Him to do Thy will which implies no slight obligation, for since He is our Father, He must bear with us however deeply we offend Him, if like the prodigal son, we return to Him. He must pardon us; console us in our trials; maintain us in a way that becomes Him Who must needs be a far better Father than any earthly parent, since all His attributes must be supreme in their perfection. More than this, He must make us brethren and co-heirs with Thee! Thy love for us, O Lord, and Thy humility remove all obstacles: besides Thy having lived on earth clothed with a mortal body offers some reason for Thy caring for us, seeing that Thou dost share our nature. But remember that, as Thou hast told us, Thy Father dwells in heaven, therefore Thou shouldst guard His honour. Although Thou hast offered Thyself to suffer shame for our sake, yet leave Him free! Impose no such ties upon Him on behalf of any one so guilty as myself, who will most certainly requite Him ill. O good Jesus! how clearly Thou hast shown that Thou art One with Him, that Thy will is His, and His is Thine. What confession of Thy love for us could be more clear? Thou didst perplex the devil and hide from him that Thou wert the Son of God, but Thine ardent longing for our welfare made Thee set aside all else in order to grant us this sublimest favour. I wonder that the devil did not guess, from this word alone, Who Thou art, to the exclusion of any doubt. Who but Thyself could have bestowed it on us Lord? I see that like a dearly loved Son, Thou didst speak both for Thyself and for us, and through Thy power didst obtain that Thy petition made on earth should be granted in heaven. Blessed mayest Thou be for ever, Lord, Who dost so love to give that naught can stay Thy hand.
Now, daughters, do you not consider Him a kind Master, for He begins by conferring on us this signal grace, in order to persuade us to learn what He is teaching us? Do you not think it would be well for us to efface from our minds the meaning of this prayer while we say it with our lips, lest our hearts should be rent in pieces at the very idea of such a love? Yet no one could say this who recognized the depths of this tenderness. What son could be found on the face of the earth who would not try to discover who his father was if the latter had been as good, as princely, and as powerful as our heavenly Father? If God were not such as He is, I should feel no surprise at our reluctance to be called His children. It is the way of the world for a son to feel ashamed of recognizing a parent in an inferior position. Such a thing cannot happen here, for, please God, none of us ever think of such things. Let the nun who comes of the highest family be the last to mention her father: we must all be equals here.
O blessed College of Christ! which, by His wish, ranked St. Peter the fisherman higher than St. Bartholomew, who was a king’s son. His Majesty foresaw how the world would wrangle over the question of who was formed of the finest clay – which is like disputing about whether clay is fittest for making bricks or a mud wall! Good God, what trust He will, from such contentions, were they only in fun. When you notice anything of the sort in one of the nuns, you must at once apply some remedy. Let her dread lest she be a Judas among the Apostles. Rid yourselves, if possible, of such a bad companion; but if this cannot be done, impose on her penances until she understands that she is not fit to be even common clay.
You have a good Father given you by the holy Jesus: let no other father be known here through any words of yours. Strive, daughters, to merit God’s caresses; cast yourselves into His arms. You know that He will never send you from Him while you remain dutiful children. Who would not guard against losing such a Father? Ah, what a consolation this is! Still, rather than enlarge on the subject, I prefer to leave it to your own thoughts, for, however inconstant your imagination may be, between such a Son and such a Father the Holy Spirit must perforce by found. May He inflame your will and constrain you with most fervent love, since even your own great gain suffices not to urge you to it.
Our Father, Who Art in Heaven
from St. Louis De Montfort
Thou who dost fill Heaven and earth
With the immensity of Thy Being,
Thou who art present everywhere —
Thou who art in the saints
By Thy glory,
In the damned
By Thy Justice,
In the good
By Thy grace —
And even in sinners
By the patience
With which Thou dost tolerate them —
Grant we beseech Thee
That we may always remember
That we come from Thee;
Grant that we may live
As Thy true children ought to live —
Grant that we may set our course
And never swerve —
Gran that we may use
Our every power,
Our hearts and souls and strength
To tend toward Thee
And THEE ALONE.