Father Pegues continues his discussion of prayer, which is one of the interior acts of the virtue of religion. Of all prayers, one stands out: the Lord’s Prayer. It is “a form of prayer whereby we may be assured of asking always for what is for our good.” It contains “all the requests we may ask and ought to ask of God,” for “whatever we ask of God can be reduced to one or other of the petitions expressed in the Our Father, provided, of course, that our request is for some good. . . . This prayer puts upon our lips in the very order that they should be in our hearts, all the desires that ought to be ours.”
He then explains the order of the petitions. “Of all our desires the first must be that God should be glorified, since the glory of God is the end of all things; and in order that we ourselves might co-operate in the best way towards this glory, we must desire to be admitted one day to a participation of that glory in heaven. Such is the sense of the first two petitions of the Our Father when we say: ‘Hallowed be Thy name; Thy Kingdom come.’ This glorification of God in Himself and of us in Him will one day be the final term of our life.”
“On earth and during the present life we have to strive to be admitted to the glory of God in heaven. To attain this end there is only one thing to be done: to accomplish in all things the will of God as perfectly as possible. And this we ask when we say: ‘Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.’”
“But in order to fulfil the will of God in the most perfect way possible, we have need of God’s life to strengthen our weakness whether as regards temporal needs or spiritual. We ask for this help when we say: ‘Give us this day our daily bread.’”
“This indeed would be sufficient were it not necessary to avoid or get rid of evil which can be an obstacle either as regards our attainment of the Kingdom of God, or the accomplishment of His will, or the sufficiency of things of which we have need in the present life. Against this threefold evil we say: ‘Forgive us our offences as we forgive them that trespass against us; and lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil.’”
Father Pegues says of the Lord’s Prayer: “We should live continually in its spirit, reciting it from time to time, and indeed as often as we can according as the conditions of our life permit.”
Quotations from Thomas Pegues, Catechism of the “Summa Theologica” of Saint Thomas Aquinas, trans. Aelred Whitacre (New York: Benziger, 1922).