New book on the Our Father shares a loving familiarity with the sacred text

Our Father. A Biblical Meditation on the Lord’s Prayer. By Sr Claire Waddelove OSB. Gracewing. 190pp £12.99

St Teresa of Avila says that Our Lord will help us to understand that “though we have had to say the Paternoster many times, He heard us the first time.” She goes on to say that even if we take a whole hour to say it, we need not worry if we realise that we are in the presence of the Father, if we understand what we are asking of Him, and if we are confident that, like any father, he wants to grant us his favour.

Sister Claire Waddelove is following in a fine tradition of commentary on the Our Father, including some of the greatest saints. Yet we may be grateful that she has not been overwhelmed by this. We always need to receive a fresh reading of the prayer that Our Lord gave us as the model for all prayer. Sister Claire’s particular contribution is to present a synopsis of scriptural texts for each section of the prayer, encouraging us to use the texts as a springboard for our prayer. This reflective scriptural journey is in the tradition of lectio divina, the contemplative reading of scripture as the “launching-pad” for union with the persons of the Holy Trinity who dwell in our soul by Baptism.

In each chapter, the biblical meditation is arranged under a collection of headings indicating the themes of that clause of the prayer. Each of these headings could themselves be taken for the food of one’s mental prayer for the day. By focussing on the heading, then the inspired words, the mind can be lifted up to praise, thanksgiving, repentance or pleading for the graces that are needed. The silence of listening to the divine voice is well supported by the meditation which is always an introduction to the encounter with the Father, never the end point. Sister Claire’s book is intended for use in support of this Christian meditation. It will be of lasting value on the shelves, whether physical or electronic, of Catholics who seek food for their daily mental prayer.

Collating the appropriate scripture verses would itself be a great service, but then Sister Claire has also given us a thoughtful introduction for each petition. She gives a straightforward explanation of the relevant doctrine, while drawing on solid and dependable theology.

The advantage that contemplative religious have in providing guidance for those who wish to pray, is their daily round of several hours in chanting the office of the day, including Holy Mass. The psalms roll round week by week, and the seasons of the year bring their own highlights of scripture to the choir, punctuated by the joy of feasts with their own gorgeous antiphons. A loving familiarity with the sacred text poured forth as prayer, is shared with us in Sister Claire’s biblical meditation on the Our Father.

The book can be obtained from:
St Cecilia’s Abbey

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