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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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In the second place, the will of God for us is that we keep His Commandments. When a person desires something, he not only wills that which he desires, but also everything which will bring that about. Thus, in order to bring about a healthy condition which he desires, a physician also wills to put into effect diet, medicine, and other needs. We arrive at eternal life through observance of the Commandments, and, accordingly, God wills that we observe them: "But if thou wilt enter into life, keep the Commandments."10 "Your reasonable service . . . that you may prove what is the good and the acceptable and the perfect will of God."11 That is, good because it is profitable: "I am the Lord thy God that teach thee profitable things."12 And acceptable, that is, pleasing: "Light is risen to the just; and joy to the right heart."13 And perfect, because noble: "Be you therefore perfect, as your Heavenly Father is perfect."14 When we say "Thy will be done," we pray that we may fulfill the Commandments of God. This will of God is done by the just, but it is not yet done by sinners. "In heaven" here signifies the just; while "on earth" refers to sinners. We, therefore, pray that the will of God may be done "on earth," that is, by sinners, "as it is in heaven," that is, by the just.15


10. Matt., xix. 17.


11. Rom., xii. 1-2.


12. Isa., xlviii. 11.


13. Ps. xcvi. 11.


14. Matt., v. 48.


15. "When, therefore, we pray, 'Thy will be done,' we first of all ask our Heavenly Father to enable us to obey His divine commands, and to serve Him all the days of our lives in holiness and justice. Likewise that we do all things in accord with His will and pleasure, that we perform all the duties prescribed for us in the sacred writings and thus, guided and assisted by Him, so conduct ourselves in all things as becomes those 'who are born, not of the will of flesh but of God' " ("Roman Catechism," "loc. cit.," 12).


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