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St. Thomas Aquinas
Catechetical Instructions

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  • THE THIRD PETITION: "Thy Will Be Done on Earth as It Is in Heaven."
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But what is this that is asked? Does not the Psalm say: "Whatsoever the Lord pleased [has willed], He hath done?"7 Now, if He has done all that He has willed both in heaven and on earth, what then is the meaning of this: "Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven"? To understand this we must know that God wills of us three things, and we pray that these be accomplished. The first thing that God wills is that we may have eternal life. Whoever makes something for a certain purpose, has a will regarding it which is in accord with the purpose for which he made it. In like manner, God made man, but it was not for no purpose, as it is written: "Remember what my substance is; for hast Thou made all the children of men in vain?"8


Hence, God made men for a purpose; but this purpose was not for their mere pleasures, for also the brutes have these, but it was that they might have eternal life. The Lord, therefore, wills that men have eternal life. Now, when that for which a thing is made is accomplished, it is said to be saved; and when this is not accomplished, it is said to be lost. So when man gains eternal life, he is said to be saved, and it is this that the Lord wills: "Now, this is the will of My Father that sent Me, that every one who seeth the Son and believeth in Him may have life everlasting."9 This will of God is already fulfilled for the Angels and for the Saints in the Fatherland, for they see God and know and enjoy Him. We, however, desire that, as the will of God is done for the blessed who are in heaven, it likewise be done for us who are on earth. For this we pray when we say "Thy will be done" for us who are on earth, as it is for the Saints who are in heaven.


7. Ps. clxxiv. 6.


8. Ps. lxxxviii. 48.


9. John, vi. 10.


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