COMPENDIUM: CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH
593. What is the specifically Christian sense of this petition?
Since “man does not live by bread alone but by every word that comes from the mouth of God”(Mathew 4:4), this petition equally applies to hunger for the Word of God and for the Body of Christ received in the Eucharist as well as hunger for the Holy Spirit. We ask this with complete confidence for this day-God’s “today”-and this is given to us above all in the Eucharist which anticipates the banquet of the Kingdom to come.
594. Why do we say “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us”?
By asking God the Father to pardon us, we acknowledge before him that we are sinners. At the same time we proclaim his mercy because in his Son and through the sacraments “we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins” (Colossians 1:14). Still our petition will be answered only if we for our part haven forgiven first.
595. How is forgiveness possible?
Mercy can penetrate our hearts only if we ourselves learn how to forgive-even our enemies. Now even if it seems impossible for us to satisfy this requirement, the heart that offers itself to the Holy Spirit can, like Christ, love given to love’s extreme; it can turn injury into compassion and transform hurt into intercession. Forgiveness participates in the divine mercy and is a high-point of Christian prayer.
596. What does “Lead us not into temptation” mean?
We ask God our Father not to leave us alone and in the power of temptation. We ask the Holy Spirit to help us know to discern, on the one hand, between a trial that makes us grow in goodness and a temptation that leads to sin and death and , on the other hand, between being tempted and consenting to temptation. This petition unites us at Jesus who overcame temptation by his prayer. It requests the grace of vigilance and of final perseverance.
597. Why do we conclude by asking “But deliver us from evil”?
“Evil” indicates the person of Satan who opposes God and is “the deceiver of the whole world (Revelation 12:9). Victory over the devil has already been won by Christ. We pray, however, that the human family be freed from Satan and his works. We also ask for the precious gift of peace and the grace of perseverance as we wait for the coming of Christ who will free us definitively from the Evil One.
598. What is the meaning of the final Amen?
“At the end of the prayer, you say ’Amen’ and thus you ratify by this word that means ‘so be it’ all that is contained in this prayer that God has taught us.” (Saint Cyril of Jerusalem)
NB: this is the final chapter on Catechism of the Catholic Church. From next newsletter onwards, the History of the Mass Explained by Fr. Charles Dike will begin a new chapter.