BY BELISARIO RIGHI
Although not observant, I am a Catholic believer. This clarification is essential to define my correct position regarding what I am about to write. Reading here and there about Martin Luther, I had made up a profile of the humanist totally wrong with respect to what I currently consider the most reliable. I had always considered Luther a more political man than a theologian. Politics has always conditioned precise choices of the Church and its best minds and in this context I placed the Heretic Luther, a man gifted with great dialectical skills and a profound connoisseur of biblical scriptures, from whose thorough examination he drew his conclusions that led to the Reformation, but I had never guessed how deep and christianly felt these were.
Portrait of Martin Luther - Painting by Lucas Cranach the Elder - 1529
From his Religious Writings I read the Pater Noster (Our Father), explained in the vernacular to simple laymen. From this emerged an image of the theologian full of happy intuitions and above all full of moving religiosity. Few times I have come across an intense and exhaustive study like that of the prayer Pater Noster (Our Father) , in which Luther infuses all his exegetical and theological doctrine, in such a simple and fluent way as to make the result of his arguments understandable to any reader. Of this study, Luther, before entering into the subject, considers a preface to be appropriate, of which here, literally, the first and significant lines are reported, because they are essential for an easier understanding of what will be said and why, it is believed to be a due and dutiful act.
It would not be necessary for my sermon and my words to be spread in the country in an incorrect way. There are also other good and useful books for preaching to the people; I do not know for what divine disposition I put myself in the dance, so that some out of friendship, others out of enmity take possession of my word and spread it. Therefore I had this Pater Noster republished previously published by my good friends, to express myself, if possible, with greater clarity and also to render a service to my opponents. My intention is to benefit anyone, harm anyone. When Christ's disciples asked that he teach them to pray, he said, “When you pray you must not say too many words, like the pagans who think their many words will be heard. So you don't have to be like them. For your Father who is in heaven knows what you need before you ask him. So pray like this: Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be your name ... ». From these words of Christ we learn the words and the manner, that is, how we should pray and what we should ask for in prayer; these are both necessary to know ... omitted.
Luther says that the Our Father is divided into two parts. First there is a principle and then there are seven requests. The Principle: Our Father who art in heaven. Knowing right away what the one who prays should be called and how to make him propitious and willing to listen. Father is a very sweet and sweet word, dictated by nature and more touching than Lord, God or Judge. There is no voice dearer than that of the son addressing his father. The expression That you are in heaven indicates the miserable and tearful situation of us who are on earth, as opposed to Him who is in heaven, and by praying to him we yearn to rise to His height and this has the value of trust in God, because no one, if not He can lift us up into heaven, because, according to Matthew, no one has ascended into heaven but the one who descended from heaven. We can go up there, only on His shoulders. Finally, note how God wanted this prayer to be not only for the person praying, but for the whole multitude of men. In fact, He taught us to say Our Father, not My Father. Prayer must be for everyone, even for enemies and if He is the Father of all, He wants us to be brothers among us, that we love and pray for each other. the others, as for ourselves, dissolving in His infinite mercy all our grudges, as well as desire for revenge and hatred.
The seven parts of the Our Father.
I - Hallowed be your name: O Father, we acknowledge our guilt. Be merciful to us and give us grace, so that we live in your holy name. Do not allow us to think, speak, operate, if not to Your praise and honor. May we in all our actions seek Your honor, not our vainglory. Allow us to love, praise, fear and honor you as children.
II - Thy kingdom come: we feel that our members are inclined to evil and that the world, the flesh and the devil want to rule us away from You, therefore save us, making Your kingdom come, so that You alone rule in us and we can become Your kingdom, in obedience, internally and externally.
III - Your will be done, as it is in heaven, so also on earth: help us with your grace to let your divine will be done in us. Do not allow us to propose and do anything according to our will and our thinking, since our will and Your will are opposed to each other.
IV - Give us today our daily bread: no one can be strong enough on his own strength. Strengthen us with your holy word, give us our daily bread, the celestial bread, so that strengthened through it, we may gladly bear that your will be done to the detriment of ours.
V - Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors: do not deny us Your good bread and forgive us our debts. Forgive us and as you have promised forgiveness, we will forgive our debtors and if our forgiveness does not make us worthy of your forgiveness, since you are true and you have promised forgiveness to those who forgive their neighbors, we trust that you want to keep the promise.
VI - Do not lead us into temptation: we are weak, infirm and there are many trials in the flesh and in the world. O Father, support us and do not let us fall into trial and sin. Grant us Your grace to persevere in continence, until our end. We pray to you, because, without your grace, we would not be able to.
VII - Deliver us from evil. Amen: evil exposes us to trial and sins. Father, free us from this misfortune, so that according to your divine will we can become your kingdom, praise you, celebrate you and sanctify you internally, so be it! These seven points are seven good teachings and exhortations, seven indices of our miserable and destitute earthly life, which is nothing but blasphemy in the name of God, a disobedience to His will. A hungry life, without spiritual bread, sinful, fraught with dangers and all evil. Soli Deo honor et gloria (Only to God honor and glory).
Ex: Luther - The classics of thought - Vol. 54 - Mondadori.