Quinquagesima Sunday – Tucson – 2020
Sanctificetur nomen tuum – Hallowed be Thy Name.
In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.
Today, we’re continuing our Lenten sermon series on the prayer taught us by our Lord: the Our Father.
St. John Damascene defined prayer as: “the raising of one’s mind and heart to God or the requesting of good things from God.” St. Thomas Aquinas says: “The Lord’s Prayer is the most perfect of prayers… In it we ask, not only for all the things we can rightly desire, but also in the sequence that that should be desired. This prayer not only teaches us to ask for things, but also in what order we should desire them.”
As God is the Creator of the world, our prayer to Him ought to reflect the order that He has established coming from Him as the Supreme Good. Our prayer then as a raising of the mind and heart, should reflect the order of that which we should seek and that which we should desire.
We began our prayer by calling God “Father” so that love would be stirred up in us as we have become adopted children of God by our baptism. He is “Father” so we can have a trusting confidence in His goodness. He is the “Father” of all humanity and when we say, “Our Father”, we address Him as “Father” of all men. We also seek that His dwelling in Heaven may also be our future and eternal dwelling as we remember that His dwelling is already begun in our hearts as His temple through Grace.
So now we come to the first petition – sanctificetur nomen tuum / hallowed be Thy name.
As it is characteristic of love to think first of the one loved, from the beginning of our prayer, we are first directed to God, to love Him for His own sake. As charity is the “love of God for His own sake”, Our Lord instructs us in the first petition “to love God more than ourselves, and to make what we desire for the sake of God the first, and what for ourselves, the next of our object of our prayers.”
Let us next answer an objection: God’s nature is infinitely good and is not deficient in any way. Also His name is holiness itself, so if we’re praying to God and asking from Him, what good is this?
We answer with the Roman Catechism of the Council of Trent: true, nothing can be added to the intrinsic nature of God, nothing is lacking in the Divine Substance of God, and nothing good can be added that He doesn’t already possess. But, it is possible for there to be an extrinsic good added to the divine nature, meaning that there can be an increase to His external glory. There are three different ways that there can be an increase to God’s external glory, and these three are the first three petitions of the Our Father: the first pertaining to His Name, the second to His Kingdom, and the third is obedience to His will. These three belong to the extrinsic good of God and we’ll successively look at these the next three weeks.
As the prayer is worded, each of the first three petitions seek that God’s extrinsic glory be granted “on earth as it is in heaven.” In other words, the petition could be rephrased as: “hallowed be Thy name on earth as it is in heaven.” Now, it is utterly impossible for us on earth to glorify God’s name in the same manner and the same perfection as it is praised in heaven. Rather, we pray that the “sanctity and glory of the Divine name may be augmented” through the faith, hope, and love in our soul and soul of all mankind still on earth. “Glory” in the Scriptures is the radiance of God’s inaccessible majesty as revealed in creation and history.
1) When we pray “hallowed be Thy name”, we first pray ourselves to honor, praise, and worship God with the theological virtues of faith, hope, and love that we have received by our baptism as we were washed and redeemed in His holy name. We seek that His holy name be praised and glorified in our minds, in our thoughts, in our desires, in our desires, in our prayers, and on our lips. We must piously and reverently praise the name of God in gratitude for His mercy and for the revelation of who He is and the revelation of His name as Father. This petition is first because this is the highest calling of man: to praise and adore God. Only to God’s highest creatures has He given this vocation: to angels and humans. Our activity in Heaven is principally the praise of God animated by charity, the friendship of God. The closer our earthly lives resemble our heavenly one, the higher the vocation. Thus, the contemplative religious orders, those religious orders who spend the majority of their day in prayer, have a higher vocation than the active religious orders because the former are given more fully to God in prayer.
In illustrating the heavenly praise of God, at the end of the Common Preface we say: “Through whom the Angels praise Thy majesty, the Dominations adore, the Powers tremble: the heavens and the hosts of heaven, and the blessed Seraphim, together celebrate in exultation. With whom, we pray Thee, command that our voices of supplication also be admitted in confessing Thee saying: Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God of Hosts! Heaven and earth are filled with Thy glory. Hosanna in the highest!” In Heaven, the name of God is praised both internally and externally, so we on earth also seek to praise the name of God both internally and externally.
From this sublime activity of praising the name of God with prayer, we should also be careful to not let our tongue sully our speech and profane the name of God. Profane and vulgar speech are unbecoming of a Christian tongue that uses the same tongue to praise God. Worse are the other sins of the tongue that are so often committed by neglect and even malice. On earth, the glory of God’s name suffers from impious usage of His name in vain, it suffers from curses, its suffers from lies, gossip, detraction and it suffers from blasphemies. Thus, as we are first directed to the love of God for His own sake, we seek to praise the name of God, the end of profane speech, and reparation to restore glory to God.
2) Our second intention when we pray “hallowed be Thy name”, is that others will also praise the name of God. “We desire and pray that the name of God may be better known to the nations.” This includes all those who have not yet received Baptism and have not yet had the holy name of God invoked on them for their salvation. We also pray that those who have received Baptism, but who have “lost the integrity of their baptism and the robe of innocence” may through the Sacrament of Penance be restored to His Grace so that His name would be “hallowed” in them. St. Augustine adds: “God’s name is great [among the people], where He is named according to the greatness of His majesty. And so there His name is said to be holy, where He is named with veneration and the fear of offending Him.” Man was made in the image and likeness of God, sharing in the “glory and honor” of God, “but by sinning, man fell short of the glory of God.””
All the Angels and Saints in Heaven praise and glorify the name of God and our first petition seeks that those here on earth may also praise and glorify the name of God. As all of heaven is in one accord in praising God, so also should all on earth be of one accord in professing and praising the holy name of God. Our desire is that all nations and all peoples, praise the name of God in one accord. The Roman Catechism states: we pray that “all nations know, worship, and venerate God, so that no mortals whatever may be found who do not both embrace the Christian religion, and dedicating themselves wholly to God, believe that He is the fountain of all holiness, and that there is nothing pure or holy that does not spring from the sanctity of His divine name.”
3) Thirdly, from this faith, hope, and charity that animates our hearts and lips of prayer, we also seek to sanctify the name of God by our works. In the same Sermon on the Mount that our Lord teaches the words of the Our Father, He also says: “So let your light shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” These works are not done so that we may be glorified, but rather that the name of God be sanctified by others. When the non-believer sees the good works done by the Christian faithful, as we are a pale reflection of the goodness of God Who is the “giver of every perfect gift,” the non-believer would then be led to faith and turn in praise of the goodness of God. St. Peter says in his First Letter: “Having your conversation good among the Gentiles, that, by considering you by your good works, they may glorify God.”
My dear faithful, as love and confidence has been stirred up in our hearts calling God “Our Father”, may we live in a pleasing way to be found worthy to enter Heaven. In following this first petition, may we praise the name of God with great reverence and love so that His name will be great among us. May the name of God be holy among all peoples and nations as they praise God in the Catholic Faith. And may our good works lead our fellow man to profess the holiness of God, and that all our voices may be united with Angels and Saints in heaven singing: Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God of Hosts! Heaven and earth are filled with Thy glory. Hosanna in the highest!
In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.