Hallowed be Thy Name

from St. Teresa of Avila

Is there any one, however uncultured, who would not consider beforehand how to address a person of high rank of whom it was necessary to ask a favour? Would not one be careful to gratify him, to avoid offending him, and to think over what one meant to petition for, and what use could be made of it, especially if the request were an important one, such as the good Jesus tells us to beg for? I think this point deserves serious consideration. Couldst Thou not, O my Lord! have included everything in one phrase, saying: ‘Give us, Father, whatever we need’? For, as God knows all things, further words seem useless. O eternal Wisdom! This alone would have sufficed between Thee and Thy Father. Thus didst Thou address Him in the garden: Thou didst show Him Thy will and Thy dread, and dist submit Thyself to Him. But Thou knowest, O my God, that Thy Father — there was need to name each thing we pray for, and we might decide whether it was what we wanted; if not, we would not ask it of Thee. Having free-will, we should not receive God’s gift unless we had first chosen it, although it might be best for us — for we never think we are rich unless we see the money in our hands.

Alas, O God! what is it that paralyses our faith so that we cannot see how inevitably we shall some day be either punished or rewarded? This, daughters, is why you ought to understand what you beg for in the Pater Noster, so that if God bestows it you may not cast it back at Him. Always think first carefully over what you ask and whether it would be well for it to be granted. If not, do not make the petition but implore His Majesty to give you light, for we are both blind and fastidious: we do not relish the food that nourishes us but prefer that which causes death — and what a death! full of horror and lasting to eternity.

The good Jesus bids us say these words which ask that this kingdom may come in us — ‘Hallowed be Thy name; Thy kingdom come.’ How great is the wisdom of our Master and our Spouse! It is well that we should all learn what we ask for when praying for this kingdom. His Majesty knew that, unless He enabled us to do so by giving us His kingdom here on earth, our natural defects would render us unfit either to hallow, praise, magnify, glorify, or extol the holy name of the eternal Father. The good Jesus therefore placed the two petitions close together. I will tell you what I understand about the matter, that you may realize what you are praying for, how eager we should be to gain it, and how we should strive to please Him Who can give it to us. If this subject does not please you, meditate on some other: God permits you to do so as long as you submit in all things to the teaching of the Church, as I always do myself. I will not give you this book until it has been read by competent judges: if it contains errors they come from ignorance and not from malice.

Among the many other joys, the principal happiness of heaven appears to me to consist in a disregard of all earthly things and in a peace and glory that dwell in a soul which rejoices in the bliss of its companions. It lives in perfect peace and feels supreme satisfaction in seeing that all those around it honour and praise God and bless His name, and in knowing that they never offend Him. In heaven every one loves Him; the soul cares for nothing but loving Him: it cannot case to do so because it knows Him as He is. If only we really knew Him we should do the same in this world, although not so constantly and so perfectly as in heaven; yet very differently from what we do now.

You must imagine that I mean we must be angels in order to make this petition and to pray well vocally. This is what our divine Master wishes since He tells us to ask for so sublime a grace, for most certainly He would never order us to ask for impossibilities. And why should this be an impossibility for us during our exile here? Perhaps while we are voyaging by sea and are still on our journey, we shall not attain to the same perfection as do souls delivered from this prison, yet there are times when our Lord puts the weary travellers into a rest of the powers and a quietude of soul that show, by foretaste, what those enjoy whom He brings to His kingdom. Souls to whom He gives in this world the ‘kingdom’ we ask for receive pledges encouraging them to trust confidently that they will one day enjoy for ever that happiness which on earth He only permits them to taste.

You would reproach me with speaking of contemplation, or it would be appropriate here, while writing of this petition, to treat of the beginning of pure contemplation, which is called the ‘prayer of quiet’ — yet I said I should only write about vocal prayer, and this might seem a contradiction. This I will not admit — for it would certainly be consistent with my promise. Excuse my mentioning the subject: as I said, I know that many people who practice vocal prayer are, without their knowing how, rasied by God to a high state of contemplation. This is why I am most anxious that you should say your prayers well.

I know a nun who could only make vocal prayer, yet, while keeping to this, she enjoyed all the rest as well. Unless she used oral prayer, her thoughts wandered to an unbearable extent — yet I wish we all made such mental prayer as she did! She spent two or three hours in reciting certain Pater Nosters and a few other prayers in honour of our Lord’s Blood-sheddings. One day she came to me in great distress because she did not know how to make mental prayer nor could she contemplate, but was only able to pray orally. I questioned her and found that she enjoyed pure contemplation while saying the Pater Noster, and that occasionally God raised her to perfect union with Himself. This was evidenced by her conduct, for she lived so holy a life that I thank God for it, and I even envied her such vocal prayer. If this was the fact (as I assure you it was), let not any of you who are the foes of contemplatives feel sure that you run no risk of being raised to contemplation yourselves if you say your vocal prayers as well as you ought and keep a good conscience. This I felt bound to say: those who do not wish to know it need not read this part.

Hallowed be Thy Name

from St. Louis De Montfort

King David, the prophet, said that the name of the Lord is holy and awe-inspiring, and Isaias said that Heaven is always echoing with the praises of the seraphim who unceasingly praise the holiness of the Lord God of Hosts.

We ask here that all the world may learn to know and adore the attributes of our God who is so great and so holy. We ask that He may be known, loved, and adored by pagans, Turks, Jews, barbarians, and all infidels — that all men may serve and glorify Him by a living faith, a staunch hope, a burning charity, and a renunciation of all erroneous beliefs. This all adds up to say that we pray that all men may be holy, because our God Himself is all-holy.