Besides the smell of the Easter lilies and the beauty of the paschal candle, one of the things I love most about Eastertide is mediating on the mystery of holy baptism and the new life it gives us. Over the course of Lent, we journeyed with the catechumens who prepared for new life in that font of holy mother the Church. But we also underwent our own process of penance and renewal so that with them, we could renew our own baptismal promises of renouncing Satan and all his works and empty show and professing our belief in Christ and the Holy Catholic Church. At the heart of our baptism is our divine adoption as children of God: we are reborn as sons and daughters in Christ Jesus because we have been grafted onto His Mystical Body and thus share in His Sonship. Thus, just as when Christ was baptized in the Jordan River and the Heavenly Father declared, “You are my beloved son in whom I am well pleased”, because we are members of Christ’s Body and sons in the Son, the Father says this upon all of us. And if baptism is at the heart of the Easter celebration of new life, then divine adoption is at the core of baptism. And if all of that is true, then the Lord’s Prayer is worthy of a central place in our Easter prayer.
Tertullian said that the Lord’s Prayer is a summary of the whole gospel. And St. Augustine said that there is no genuine Christian petition that isn’t found in the Oratio Dominica. St. Thomas Aquinas states that “the Lord’s Prayer is the most perfect of prayers. In it we ask, not only for all things we can rightly desire, but also in the sequence that they should be desired. This prayer not only teaches us to ask for things, but also in what order we should desire them.” Thus the Catechism is able to assert that the rightness of our life in Christ hinges directly upon the rightness of our prayer.
The Lord’s Prayer has always been tied to holy baptism. Not only is it prayed at all baptismal services, but the catechumen solemnly receives it as a stage of preparation for the rite itself, because this handing on (tradition) “signifies new birth into divine life.” (CCC 2769) Many church fathers wrote sermons on the Lord’s Prayer to catechumens and neophytes.
How powerful those words the priest uses to invite us to filial trust before reciting the prayer in the Eucharistic liturgy: “At the Savior’s command and formed by divine teaching, we dare to say.” Isn’t that interesting? “We dare to say.” Why would the Roman liturgy speak life this? Because it is only by new life in Christ that we can speak with such boldness and confidence. Before baptism, God was our Creator and by analogy a father to us. But now through Christ taking us to Himself, we are adopted as sons and daughters of the Father. This is not by analogy or symbolic: we truly become children of God. This is the new life we celebrate for 50 days with paschal joy in the Church’s liturgy. If we ponder this constantly in our own prayer during this holy season of Easter, then we will live the joy the Church keeps inviting us into. Living this identity out in real life is what makes saints.