Pater Noster

cloister of the Church of the Pater Noster in Jerusalem

At Holy Mass this summer, we get to hear the Lord Jesus teach us the Our Father not once, but twice. Today we read about it from Matthew 6. On Sunday, July 28, we will read about it from Luke 11.

Anyone ever visit the Church of the Pater Noster on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem? The walls display the words of the Our Father in 100+ languages.

The closest we can get to the original is… Greek. Anyone know the Our Father in a language other than English? Latin? Spanish?

After Mass this past Sunday, an earnest soul asked me: ‘Father, when will we change the Our Father? Because of Pope Francis.’

Knowing this dear person as I do, I thought I knew the source of his slight confusion. So I googled: “Fox News Our Father Pope Francis.” I immediately discovered a report about the pope changing the wording of the Our Father. Unfortunately, the reporter failed to grasp that the change this year affects only the Italian-language Missal. Not the English.

Here’s what the Catechism says about the phrase they changed in Italian. They changed it in French in 2017. The German bishops voted not to change it.

It is difficult to translate the Greek verb. It means both “do not allow us to enter into temptation,” and “do not let us yield to temptation.” God cannot be tempted by evil and He tempts no one. We ask Him not to allow us to take the way that leads to sin. This petition implores the Spirit of discernment and strength. [para. 2846]

If I were pope, I certainly wouldn’t encourage any bishops’ conferences to go around changing the words of prayers that we all learned at our mothers’ knees.

The pope learned it a certain way: no nos dejes caer en tentacion. “Do not let us fall into temptation.”

I think the Italians will find it quite confusing when the priest tells them to change the way they pray their most-familiar prayer. The new Italian version introduces the verb abandon which no one has ever thought the original Greek word means. I certainly don’t envy the poor Italian parish priests, who have to deal with this.

But so far we English-speakers don’t have to worry about it. When it comes to adding reasons to get mad at the pope, o heavenly Father, lead us not into temptation.


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