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St. Thomas Aquinas
Catechetical Instructions

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Our FATHER. - Note here two things, namely, that God is our Father, and what we owe to Him because He is our Father. God is our Father by reason of our special creation, in that He created us in His image and likeness, and did not so create all inferior creatures: "Is not He thy Father, that made thee, and created thee?"1 Likewise God is our Father in that He governs us, yet treats us as masters, and not servants, as is the case with all other things. "For Thy providence, Father, governeth all things;"2 and "with great favor disposest of us."3 God is our Father also by reason of adoption. To other creatures He has given but a small gift, but to us an heredity - indeed, "if sons, heirs also."4 "For you have not received the spirit of bondage again in fear; but you have received the spirit of adoption of sons, whereby we cry, Abba (Father)."5


We owe God, our Father, four things. First, honor: "If then I be a Father, where is My honor?"6 Now, honor consists in three qualities. (1) It consists in giving praise to God: "The sacrifice of praise shall glorify Me."7 This ought not merely come from the lips, but also from the heart, for: "This people draw near Me with their mouth, and with their lips glorify Me, but their heart is far from Me."8 (2) Honor, again, consists in purity of body towards oneself: "Glorify and bear God in your body."9 (3) Honor also consists in just estimate of one's neighbor, for: "The king's honor loveth judgment."10


Secondly, since God is our Father, we ought to imitate Him: "Thou shalt call Me Father, and shalt not cease to walk after Me."11 This imitation of our Father consists of three things. (1) It consists in love: "Be ye therefore followers of God, as most dear children; and walk in love."12 This love of God must be from the heart. (2) It consists in mercy: "Be ye merciful."13 This mercy must likewise come from the heart, and it must be in deed. (3) Finally, imitation of God consists in being perfect, since love and mercy should be perfect: "Be ye therefore perfect, as also your Heavenly Father is perfect."14


Thirdly, we owe God obedience: "Shall we not much more obey the Father of spirits?"15 We must obey God for three reasons. First, because He is our Lord: "All things that the Lord has spoken we will do, we will be obedient."16 Secondly, because He has given us the example of obedience, for the true Son of God "became obedient to His Father even unto death."17 Thirdly, because it is for our good: "I will play before the Lord who hath chosen me."18 Fourthly, we owe God patience when we are chastised by Him: "Reject not the correction of the Lord; and do not faint when thou art chastised by Him. For whom the Lord loveth He chastises; and as a father in the son He pleaseth Himself.19


OUR Father. - From this we see that we owe our neighbor both love and reverence. We must love our neighbor because we are all brothers, and all men are sons of God, our Father: "For he that loveth not his brother whom he seeth, how can he love God whom he seeth not?"20 We owe reverence to our neighbor because he is also a child of God: "Have we not all one Father? Hath not one God created us? Why then does everyone of us despise his brother?"21 And again: "With honor preventing one another."22 We do this because of the fruit we receive, for "He became to all that obey the cause of eternal salvation."23


1. Deut., xxxii. 6. "The first word which, by the command and institution of Our Lord, we say in this prayer is 'Father.' The Saviour could, indeed, have begun this prayer with some other word more expressive of His majesty, such as 'Creator' or 'Lord.' Yet, He omitted all such expressions as they might be associated with fear, and instead of them He has chosen a word which inspires love and confidence. What name is more tender than that of Father? It is a name which expresses both indulgence and love" ("Roman Catechism," Lord's Prayer, Chapter IX, 1).


2. Wis. xiv. 3.


3. "Ibid.," xii. 18.


4. Rom., viii. 17.


5. "Ibid.," 15.


6. Mal., i. 6.


7. Ps. xxix. 13.


8. Isa., xxix. 13.


9. I Cor., vi. 20.


10. Ps. xcviii. 3.


11. Jerem., iii. 19.


12. Eph., v. 1.


13. Luke, vi. 36.


14. Matt., v. 48.


15. Heb., xii. 9.


16. Exod., xxiv. 7.


17. Phil., ii. 8.


18. II Kings, vi. 21.


19. Prov., iii. 11-12.


20. I John, iv. 20. "When we call upon the Father, invoking Him as our Father, we are to understand it as a necessary consequence of the gift and right of divine adoption and that we are all brethren, and should love one another as brothers. 'You are all brethren,' says Our Lord, 'for one is your Father, He that is in heaven' (Matt., xxiii. 8). For this reason the Apostles in their Epistles call the faithful, 'brethren'" ("Roman Catechism," "loc. cit.," 14).


21. Mal., ii. 10.


22. Rom., xii. 10.


23. Heb., v. 9.


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