Today’s Thoughts: Each time I encounter today’s Gospel, Jesus teaching the disciples to pray the Our Father I can feel the emotions well up within me. For you see I have a special memory that centers on this prayer. The Our Father was one of the last prayers I prayed with my father before he died 37 and a half years ago. It was a December night in 1982, I was in my father’s hospital room late that night and as I was about to leave he asked me to pray with him. I was more than happy to do so, and I asked him what prayer he wanted to pray and he said, “The Our Father.”
I began to say the words and notice that my dad was not praying so I stopped and asked what was wrong. Dad said, “I don’t remember the words.” His illness had begun to affect his mind. So, I said, “No problem” and suggested that I say a few words of the prayer and that he repeat them after me. Do you know how hard it is to say the Our Father when you have to stop and think about what you are saying? Well, we got through the prayer and dad became very peaceful and for the most part remained peaceful over the last few weeks of his life. I have always remembered that moment.
I would like to add little anecdote to this reflection on the “Our Father” and my own father. Four years after my father died, I was ordination to the priesthood on June 18th. The day after my ordination I was going to celebrate mass for my family who had come to New York for my ordination. It was a Thursday morning just like today. I awakened early that morning and wandered down the hall to the monastery and retreat house chapel to look at the readings and prepared for my very first mass with my family as a priest. When I got to the Gospel, I could not believe what I read. It was today’s Gospel from Matthew about Jesus teaching his disciples to pray, specifically to pray the Our Father. I put the book down and tears welled up in my eyes and I just sat there for about an hour unable to prepare any more. All I could do was remember that evening in the hospital four years earlier.
I had wanted my dad to see me ordained but that was not to be but on that Thursday morning 33 years ago, I realized that he was with me and had been with me all along. I have never prayed the Our Father at mass, during the rosary or at any other time and not thought about that moment. What power there is in this simple prayer, what a gift this simple prayer is to all who pray it.
I would invite you at some moment today to pause and slowly, deliberately pray the Our Father. Listen to the words. Realize what God offers you through the words of this simple prayer and what God asks of you.
By the way thanks Dad! Have a great Thursday everyone!
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Fr. Paul R. Fagan, C.P. "Preacher on the Run"
Just a few thoughts to help you on your journey through life...let me know from time to time what you think...