By Dan Clendenin
Pope Francis, Our Father: Reflections on the Lord’s Prayer (New York: Image Books, 2018), 141pp.
On August 4, 2017, the Catholic theologian and prison chaplain Marco Pozza of Padua interviewed Pope Francis about the Lord’s Prayer for a nine-part broadcast on the Italian bishops’ television station. A few months later, those interviews were published as this little book. The book was published on March 13, 2018 to coincide with Francis’s election to the papacy on that date in 2013.
It takes courage to pray the Lord’s Prayer, says Francis, to truly believe these familiar and yet radical words. You have to be bold to believe that “God is the father who accompanies me, forgives me, gives me bread, is attentive to everything I ask.” Jesus never prays to an “almighty” God or a remote “cosmic” God. He prays to a loving father God, and he encourages us to do the same.
In alternating chapters, Pope Francis and Pozza discuss the nine phrases of the Lord’s Prayer from the interviews (Our Father, Who Art in Heaven, Hallowed Be Thy Name, etc.), followed by a chapter on the theme that is taken from various homilies and meditations by the Pope. “We must remember we are never alone. Some of us may be far away from God, hostile; we may even claim to be ‘godless.’ But the Gospel of Jesus Christ reveals to us that God cannot be without us. He will never be a ‘manless’ God. It is he who cannot be without us, and this is a great mystery! God cannot be God without man. What a great mystery this is! And this certainty is the source of our hope, which we find enshrined in all the invocations of the Our Father.”
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