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Reweaving the
Lord's Prayer

by Carole Goodwin

(A summary of this month's Youth Update)
If you would like to preview a future edition in Youth Update's private online chat room, contact CarolAnn@franciscanmedia.org.

Valeen Schnurr, member of St. Frances Cabrini Catholic Church in Littleton, Colorado, and student at Columbine High School, was asked, "Do you believe in God?" He reloaded, cocked his gun, staring at her—but became distracted and moved on.

Valeen, called Val by her friends, was bleeding, terrified and confused. She instinctively turned to God in prayer.

Hopefully you will never experience such a tragedy as the one at Columbine High School. But you will face hard times where praying can create a comfort zone in crisis.

1. Jesus prayed in times of crisis.

Jesus turned to God when he faced difficulties as well as when he wanted to thank or praise God for some blessing. In fact, Jesus prayed so often and with such focused concentration that other people noticed.

One day his apostles asked him to teach them to pray as he did. This is how the Lord's Prayer was born. The Gospel of Luke (11:2-4) contains a short version and the Gospel of Matthew (6:9-13) contains a version most like the prayer you use today.

It is called the Lord's Prayer because Jesus composed it. The earliest Christians, just like the students at Columbine High School, probably turned to this familiar prayer for comfort in times of danger and to calm their fears.

2. Does your use of Jesus' prayer need reweaving?

When a blanket becomes threadbare it can be made new again if someone reweaves it. Bright threads are woven into the worn parts of the fabric. A good weaver can make the blanket appear as if nothing was wrong with it. It becomes fresh and interesting and usable again. The same thing can happen to a threadbare prayer.

3. You can connect with all those who pray the Lord's Prayer.

Find a quiet place and say the words to the Lord's Prayer aloud slowly. Visualize God listening intently to your words. How does the prayer have new meaning? What words are you focused on? Can you feel God's love and support? Religious teachers tell us that the more we pray, the more we will become aware of the presence of God in our everyday lives.

4. Words have power.

When you repeat the same words many, many times, they can lose meaning. When you focus on them, they can refill with power and meaning. This seems to be particularly true for the Lord's Prayer since it is used so much. The print version of this Youth Update can help you renew and reweave each phrase of this precious Christian prayer.

The Lord's Prayer could be called a "total" prayer, a statement of your belief in the power of goodness and your willingness to follow the teachings of Jesus. You have the assurance that the words Jesus taught will give you a complete connection to the God who loves you.

Joni Carroll (15) and Stacey Richardson (15) met on a Saturday morning to preview this issue of Youth Update, together with Connie Carroll, coordinator of religious education at their parish, St. Michael's in Mt. Orab, Ohio.

 

Q.

Since God wouldn't lead us into temptation, why is that part of the Lord's Prayer even included?

A.

Remember that Matthew's Gospel is translated from the Greek. As you know from studying a foreign language, translation can be difficult and bumpy. This phrase was understood to mean, "Do not let us fall when we are tempted." The phrase is a good reminder that life will include times when we don't much want to do the right thing and we want to be confident that God is with us then, helping us to overcome such negative feelings.

Q.

Who thought of the part called the doxology and why is it called that?

A.

The easy part is the second part: "Doxology" is another Greek word for a short prayer of praise. The first part involves translation again. The Roman Catholic translation is based on the work of St. Jerome, who used a different version of the Greek than the one used by those who translated the King James version, widely used by Protestants. But we now know that a doxology was often added when the prayer was prayed in connection with Eucharist. That is why we now say, after a short pause, a doxology at Mass much like the one in the King James translation.

Q.

Are we really supposed to say Amen? Why don't people in Church say Amen very much or very loudly?

A.

Amen is a great prayer in and of itself. It has become more threadbare than any other prayer, I think. If we truly believe what any prayer says, we should say so loudly and proudly. Maybe you and your friends can do this. The next time you pray publicly, say Amen with enthusiasm—not to get attention for yourself but to express your belief. You may be the encouragement other people need to pray aloud from their hearts.

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