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St. Thomas Aquinas
Catechetical Instructions

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  • THE SECOND PETITION: "Thy Kingdom Come."
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In so doing we pray for a threefold purpose: that the just may be strengthened, that sinners may be punished, and that death be destroyed. Now, the reason is that men are subject to Christ in two ways, either willingly or unwillingly. Again, the will of God is so efficacious that it must be fully complied with; and God does wish that all things be subject to Christ. Hence, two things are necessary: either man will do the will of God by subjecting himself to His commands, as do the just; or God shall exert His will and punish those who are sinners and His enemies; and this will take place at the end of the world: "Until I make Thy enemies Thy footstool."4


It is enjoined upon the faithful to pray that the kingdom of God may come, namely, that they subject themselves completely to Him. But it is a terrible thing for sinners, because for them to ask the coming of God's kingdom is nothing else than to ask that they be subjected to punishment: "Woe to them that desire the day of the Lord!"5 By this prayer, too, we ask that death be destroyed. Since Christ is life, death cannot exist in His kingdom,6 because death is the opposite of life: "And the enemy, death, shall be destroyed last."7 "He shall cast death down headlong forever."8 And this shall take place at the last resurrection: "Who will reform the body of our lowness, made like to the body of His glory."9


In a second sense, the kingdom of heaven signifies the glory of paradise. Nor is this to be wondered at, for a kingdom ("regnum") is nothing other than a government ("regimen"). That will be the best government where nothing is found contrary to the will of the governor. Now, the will of God is the very salvation of men, for He "will have all men to be saved";10 and this especially shall come to pass in paradise where there will be nothing contrary to man's salvation. "They shall gather out of His kingdom all scandals."11 In this world, however, there are many things contrary to the salvation of men. Hence, when we pray, "Thy kingdom come," we pray that we might participate in the heavenly kingdom and in the glory of paradise.


4. Ps. cix. 1.


5. Amos, v. 18.


6. "Since . . . Kingdom" in Vives edition; not in Parma.


7. I Cor., xv. 26.


8. Isa., xxv. 8. This is in Vives edition: not in Parma.


9. Phil., iii. 21.


10. I Tim., ii. 4.


11. Matt, xiii. 41.


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