Lord’s Prayer and Natural Law
“Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
and forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.”
Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
Law a certain ordinance of reason for the common good, made by him who has the care of the community, and promulgated. Natural Law is humans’ participation, through reason, in the Eternal Law, which is simply the truth of God as God knows it Himself (which more simply is God knowing God).
We know that grace perfects, not destroys, nature. And so we pray for God’s will to be done “on earth as it is in Heaven.” We ask that this happens through His grace, and what we ask for is a conformity of our will with His. This certainly includes the Divine Law, being those things we cannot know through reason alone.
There is no doubt that this also concerns things of a non-moral nature as well, but it is the supernatural, not the natural, that is primary. Indeed, if the supernatural law was adhered to by our first parents, the natural world would have always treated us just fine.
No doubt, if we put a primary emphasis on physical comfort in this world as first priority when praying for God’s will to be done, we have reversed what matters most. Not coincidentally, this is a problem in the Church since Vatican II. The first document of the Council said that:
It is of the essence of the Church that she be both human and divine, visible and yet invisibly equipped, eager to act and yet intent on contemplation, present in this world and yet not at home in it; and she is all these things in such wise that in her the human is directed and subordinated to the divine, the visible likewise to the invisible, action to contemplation, and this present world to that city yet to come, which we seek. (SC, 2)
Somehow, nevertheless, whether in the Mass or in social justice, we have reversed the order. We have made the human primary over the divine, action over contemplation, the visible more important than the invisible, and the present world having primacy of importance over “that city which we seek.”
Thankfully, next Sunday we will hear a translation of the Novus Ordo that is faithful to the view of the supernatural as primary. Shortly after praying, then, the Nicene Creed (in which we will no longer hear watered-down language like “seen and unseen” but accurate words that admit of a true transcendent reality like “visible and invisible”) we will pray the Our Father. When doing so, let’s mean every word, and let’s ask for the grace to share the truth of how God wants us to act.
When the Mass is over, and we are “sent,” we need to evangelize the world. As early as Eusebius, the Church historian, it was suggested, essentially, that Greek philosophy had been supplied providentially as a preparation for the Gospel. An understanding of the natural law will be a great bridge towards preparing others for the fullness of truth that resides in our, or rather Christ’s, Holy Catholic Church.
Understanding, yes, but also prayer. Primarily, prayer.