Looking at the difficulties and challenges we face—as individuals, as families, as a country, as a church—we are reminded all the more of the importance of prayer. Because of that, I continue exploring the prayer taught by our Lord Jesus Christ when His disciples asked Him how to pray. Two weeks ago, I discussed the opening phrase, “Our Father.” This week, “Who art in Heaven” is the first focus. When we proclaim that God our Father is in Heaven, this does not mean that God is distant, far away, and aloof. Rather, our Father invites us to pray to Him and draw near to Him.
Additionally, “Who art in Heaven” is the recognition that Heaven is God's dwelling place is our homeland: it is where our citizenship resides, and it is where we are going. In a sense, our life is not about going to Heaven as though we are foreigners; life is about going home. “Who art in Heaven” means, as Pope Benedict XVI stated, “we are testifying to the fact that, while we have different earthly fathers, we all come from one single Father, who is the measure and source of all fatherhood.” Pope Benedict continues, “Heaven, then, means that divine summit from which we all come and to which we are all meant to return.”
Thinking about Heaven, the Catechism of the Catholic Church states that the biblical expression of Heaven is not so much a place or physical location as we may think; instead, Heaven is a way of being. Heaven is God's dwelling place, and as the First Letter of St. John tells us that God is love. Selfless, sacrificial love is the way of being of Heaven; this is our home. This makes greater sense when Pope Benedict teaches that, as human beings, we are made to love and be loved. If we are called to go home to God and to the way of life called love, our life here on earth is a growth in selfless, sacrificial love. We pray to our Father to teach us this way of being.
Shifting to an initiative from the Diocese of Toledo, we are asked to pray for the intention of holy disciples in September, fast for the intention of holy families in October, and give alms for holy vocations in November. I encourage you to pray each day this month for the intention of holy disciples. You could do this by praying an Our Father, Hail Mary, and Glory Be for this intention; you could offer a rosary or a decade of the rosary for this intention; you can bring this intention with you to Mass. For this week, perhaps reflect on this question: what does it mean to be a holy disciple?
We are all saints under construction, seeking to be in heaven with our Father and seeking to live as holy disciples. Have a great week!