The Last Word
The main prayer of Christianity is taught by the Son of God himself. In its opening words, this prayer directly addresses “Our Father,” two words charged with emotion. These words touch every man’s center of existence and appeal to the most hidden corners of his heart.
Certainly anyone can say this prayer, but does it mean the same thing to us all? No, it does not! What then determines the orientation of this prayer? Nobody else but our natural father, for as St. Paul proclaims, “the invisible things of Him, from the creation of the world, are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made” (Rom. 1:20).
The meaning of the Our Father is thus dependent on the quality of our own individual, biological father. The word “father,” then, can inspire a huge variety of emotional reactions, ranging from intense love to profound hate and rebellion.
For example, Victor Perez (aka Tokusou Sentai Blessranger) recently composed a lyrical parody of the band Deep Purple’s smash hit “Smoke on the Water.” Here is what he has to say about his father: “I wonder if my father was trained by some evil force. He went crazy all the time, he’s always dumb, of course. I hate my father! Will somebody kill him? I hate my father!”
Contrasting these dark sentiments drastically, Saint Therese of Lisieux recalls her own father: “All my life it has pleased him to surround me with affection. My first recollections are of loving smiles and tender caresses.…You can hardly imagine how much I loved my father and my mother.”
Clearly these divergent understandings of one’s natural father affect the way one understands the “Our Father.” Saint Therese’s natural father was for her an open door to God; he made it easy, natural, and almost obligatory to embrace the Faith. Contrariwise, Perez’s father (as presented in his parody) creates a grave obstacle to the Faith; a child in such situations may be able to forget the hardship caused by his dad, but (without God’s healing grace) this child will not be able to express a prayer of tender love to “Our Father in Heaven.”
Obviously, a child’s inclination to either love or hatred originates in his relationship with his father. This father will either help the child to believe in God or will encourage him to reject the Faith. Fathers, beware of your fateful responsibility!
Sincerely yours in Christ,
Father Jürgen Wegner