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What To Do?

One of the verses we sometimes don't know what to do with is Luke 11:13b "how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him." I have heard (and given) various stand alone interpretations to it over the years.

One possible answer to the dilemma is found in the epiklesis which has been used from time immemorial as part of the consecration. In it the church calls down the Holy Spirit upon the gifts to make them the body and blood of Christ. This verse is one of the bases for that understanding of things. (2 Cor. 13:14 is another)

This makes even more sense if the Pater Noster was the first century eucharistic prayer (at least for the dioceses where Matthew and Luke held sway). Each petition fits the eucharist perfectly. This should especially be considered by Lutherans whose liturgy relies on the Pater to do what the (rejected by Luther) eucharistic prayer did (and still does in the church catholic).

I don't know if Luther understood what he was doing when he made this brilliant (if disruptive) change in his 2 masses (Formula Missae 1523 and Deutsche Messe 1526). But it is genius. As I say, each petition can easily be interpreted eucharistically. Since it has become the eucharistic prayer of Lutheran liturgy my practice is to lay my hands over the elements when praying it.

One verse that becomes particularly clear is: forgive us our trespasses as ... Poor Luther did not know what to do with this for to him it had the aroma of justification by works. Thus his non-sequitorial explanation of it in the catechism. But if the Pater is a eucharistic prayer then it amounts to the admonition of Mt. 5:23 "If you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember ... "

But to adopt the Pater fully as the eucharistic prayer we would have to interpret "daily bread" more broadly than the catechism does. Luther followed Augustine, but he is not the only interpreter by any means. Indeed there is a whole school of interpreters who take daily bread eucharistically. See this:

Following the tradition more common among the Greek Fathers, the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches: "Taken literally, it (epi-ousios = "super-essential") refers directly to the Bread of Life, the Body of Christ, the 'medicine of immortality,' without which we have no life within us" (CCC 2837). In this vein, St. Jerome already interpreted it as "super-substantial bread".

 

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