FROM (Our Father, Word by Word)
Our Father Who Art in Heaven, Hallowed Be Thy Name.
Thy Kingdom Come, Thy Will Be Done,
On Earth As it Is in Heaven. Give Us This Day Our Daily Bread. Forgive Us Our Trespasses As We Forgive Those
Who Have Trespassed Against Us. Lead Us Not Into Temptation But Deliver Us From…
When I come to this word, I notice not so much the word itself, but the words that aren’t there. Notice that there is nothing between the words from and evil. It’s not “deliver us from stuff that is evil,” or “deliver us from situations where evilness might occur.” Deliver us from evil. The word that follows from is in the singular, and is unadorned with adjectives or qualifiers.
For me, this evokes thoughts of the personal nature of evil.
The Catechism tells us:
In this petition, evil is not an abstraction, but refers to a person, Satan, the Evil One, the angel who opposes God. The devil (dia-bolos) is the one who “throws himself across” God’s plan and his work of salvation accomplished in Christ.
One of the biggest ways in which my conversion to Christianity has assisted me in terms of practical, day-to-day living is that I now understand the reality of spiritual warfare. Back when I was an atheist I felt the blows and the injuries, but didn’t know where they came from. I had no idea that I was standing on a battlefield.
Through the wisdom of the Church, I’ve learned how to recognize many of the techniques of the enemy; I’ve come to understand how to protect myself from his attacks; and I’ve been given the armor to keep me safe from his weapons. And if I could distill everything I’ve learned down to the single most important thing to know, it would be this:
Never forget that evil is personal.
Even within mainstream Christianity, there’s a tendency to discount the devil as an intelligent being, to think of evil as an impersonal force, like an earthquake or a lightning strike. But evil is not a disinterested phenomenon. As odd as it sounds to modern ears, the truth is that devil and his demons are smart — smarter than we are — and they tailor their plans of attack to each individual. They have a special plan, just for you; they’ll use different techniques for you than they do to try keep your neighbor or your brother or me away from God. And the stakes are high, since they aim to kill not only our physical bodies, but our eternal souls as well.
When you think about the enemy we’re up against, consider his intelligence, and the endless energy he has to put toward conquering in this winner-takes-all game, it fills you with a renewed understanding of just how dependent we are on God’s grace. It makes you realize with trembling that this is a battle that we simply cannot fight alone. And so we speak these last words of the Our Father with great urgency, as we beg the only One who can save us, Deliver us from evil.