“Lead us not into temptation.” Last week I explained that the Italian Bishops had
changed the Italian translation of the “sixth petition” of the “Our Father” from, “and lead
us not into temptation,” to, “and do not abandon us in temptation,” arguing that the
ancient translation is too confusing.
Fortunately, the American Bishops have not even discussed adopting a similar
change. Which is a good thing, since noted experts in ancient Greek argue the new
translation is inaccurate, and the ancient translation—which we use—is correct.
Moreover, as noted theologian Monsignor Nicola Bux has observed, the Italian change
has caused many to “wonder whether the Church, for two thousand years, was not
mistaken in ‘obeying the Savior’s command,’ and whether it ‘conformed to His divine
teaching.’” He concluded: “If the petition in question was considered incomprehensible,
was it not enough to explain it in a catechesis?”
So let’s explain it in a catechesis, borrowing from the greatest catechist of the last
50 years, Pope Benedict XVI, writing in Jesus of Nazareth: From the Baptism in the
Jordan to the Transfiguration, pp. 160-164.
“The way this petition is phrased is shocking for many people: God certainly does
not lead us into temptation. In fact, as St. James tells us: “Let no one say when he is
tempted, ‘I am tempted by God’; for God cannot be tempted with evil and He Himself
tempts no one.” (Jas 1:13).
“We are helped a further step along when we recall the words of the Gospel:
“Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil” (Mt
:1) [my emphasis added]. Temptations come from the devil, but part of Jesus’ messianic
task is to withstand the great temptations that have led man away from God and continue
to do so. As we have seen, Jesus must suffer through these temptations to the point of
dying on the Cross, which is how He opens the way of redemption for us. Thus it is not
only after His death, but already by His death and during His whole life, that Jesus
“descends into hell,” as it were, into the domain of our temptations and defeats in order
to take us by the hand and carry us out….
“A brief look at the Book of Job… can help us clarify things further. Satan derides
man in order to deride God: God’s creature, whom He has formed in His own image, is a
pitiful creature. ….God gives Satan the freedom to test Job, though within precisely
defined boundaries. God does not abandon man, but He does Him allow to be tried.
“….In order to mature, in order to make real progress on the path leading from a
superficial piety into a profound oneness with God’s will, man needs to be tried. Just as
the juice of a grape has to ferment in order to become a fine wine, so too man needs
purifications and transformations; they are dangerous for him, because they present an
opportunity for him to fall, and yet they are indispensable as paths on which he comes to
himself and to God…
“Now we are in a position to interpret the sixth petition … in a more practical
way. When we pray it, we are saying to God: I know that I need trials so that my nature
can be purified. When you decide to send me these trials, when you give evil some room
to maneuver, … then please remember that my strength goes only so far. Don’t
overestimate my capacity. Don’t set too wide the boundaries within which I may be
tempted, and be close to me with your protecting hand when it becomes too much for me.
It was in this sense that Saint Cyprian interpreted the sixth petition. He says that when we
pray, “And lead us not into temptation,” we are expressing our awareness “that the
enemy can do nothing against us unless God has allowed it beforehand, so that our fear,
our devotion and our worship may be directed to God—because the Evil One is not
permitted to do anything unless he is given authorization” (De dominica oration 25…).
“And then pondering the psychological patter of temptation, he explains that there
can be two different reasons why God grants the Evil One a limited power. It can be a
penance for us, in order to dampen our pride…. Let us think of the Pharisee who
recounts his own works to God and imagines he is not in need of grace.
“…. When we pray the sixth petition of the Our Father, we must therefore, on one
hand, be ready to take upon ourselves the burden of trials that is meted out to us. On the
other hand, the object of the petition is to ask God not to mete out more than we can
bear, not to let us slip from His hands. We make this prayer in the trustful certainty that
Saint Paul has articulated for us: "God is faithful, and He will not let you be tempted
beyond your strength, but with the temptation will also provide the way of escape, that
you may be able to endure it." (1 Cor 10:13)”
Independence Day. This Thursday is the 4 th of July, Independence Day, or we might say
“Liberty Day.” “Liberty” does not mean a freedom from responsibility, quite the
contrary. Liberty is a demanding servant and master—it both benefits us, and places
demands on us. Liberty demands that we defend it—that we sacrifice and fight to
preserve it. True liberty is a freedom to become the good men and women we have the
potential to be, that God calls us to be. As such, the most fundamental type or aspect of
liberty is Religious Liberty. So this Thursday, take time to give thanks to God for the
liberty He has given our nation, and to recommit yourself to both use your freedoms well,
and to continue to fight to preserve them.
Choir Takes the Summer Off. With Corpus Christi Sunday behind us, the choir will
take the rest of the summer off. I’m sure you join me in appreciation for all the beautiful
music they have provided us with this last year. The Mass is not about the music, but the
music our choir provides is definitely about the Mass, and helps us to more deeply enter
into the solemnity and reverence of the Holy Sacrifice. Thank you, choir members, and
especially Elisabeth Turco (director) and Denise Anezin (organist), and have a great and
Steve Adragna, Pro-Life Candidate. I do not publicly support or endorse any candidate
for public office. But I can tell you that pro-abortion extremist Kathy Tran is being
challenged for re-election as State Delegate for District 42 (our district) by pro-life Steve
Adragna, who is one of our parishoners. The election will be on November 5, 2019.
God bless them both. I beg you to consider being active in this election, primarily by
voting, but also with your checkbooks and volunteering to actively work for the defense
of human life in the Commonwealth.
Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles