Question on the "Our Father"

Just a quick thought…question…

How can a transcendent God, maker of all things, outside of time and space etc etc etc…be “In Heaven” as stated at the opening of the Lord’s prayer?

“Our Father, Who are in heaven…”

Just a thought…:shrug:


I’m not clear on what you believe heaven to be. The Beatific Vision, usually termed “heaven” is a participation in the divine life of the Trinity, “face to face”.

1024 This perfect life with the Most Holy Trinity - this communion of life and love with the Trinity, with the Virgin Mary, the angels and all the blessed - is called “heaven.”

1027 This mystery of blessed communion with God and all who are in Christ is beyond all understanding and description.

1028 Because of his transcendence, God cannot be seen as he is, unless he himself opens up his mystery to man’s immediate contemplation and gives him the capacity for it. the Church calls this contemplation of God in his heavenly glory “the beatific vision”

The Aramaic of the phrase “our father who art in heaven” is (phonetically) “awoon dwashmaya”. To really understand this phrase you need to have an understanding of the Aramaic words.

“Awoon” is the plural possessive of “Abba” or “Daddy”. Plural as in “all of us” and possessive as in “he belongs to me”. It is onomatepietic, like “bang” or “a-choo”. It is meant to reflect the way babies might respond to their daddies as they are bounced on the knee, as in ba-ba-ba-ba-abba.

Dwashmaya is almost untranslateable, but we say “heaven”. Better would be “omnipresent”. The ancient Jews had a unique concept of God’s omnipresence. Augustine described it this way: imagine you are a sponge on the bottom of the ocean. The sea water surrounds you. It is above, below, to your left to your right. You are completely reliant upon it for your existence. It permeates every fiber of your being and gives you life and yet you aren’t even able to discern it, you really aren’t even aware of its presence most of the time. You are the sponge and the water is God. Where is the water? The water is “dwashmaya”. We say “heaven”

Good question, and something worth meditating upon.

We take the image of “Heaven” as being a celestial throne because of the Latin - “qui est in caelis”, which is an interesting word because (1) It is derived from the word for “sky”, caelum, (2) it also means “chisel” and (3) it is plural.

So I’m inclined to embrace a more generous view of “heaven” as being other than the area - however defined - surrounding the Lord’s Throne Room (Rev 4:1), at least in this prayer. The idea of Heaven as a place strikes me as being more necessary for those who obey the Lord, than for the Lord Himself. It is a place for Him to be worshipped, and adored, and therein to dwell with those who have entered, and it is necessary that Heaven is a place in order to separate those who love the Lord from those who do not (Mt 25:31-46).

But the Lord’s Prayer is not being apocalyptic - it is a means of speaking to the One who is always with us (Mt 28:20). It is not incorrect to say that we’re addressing God in His Throne Room - this is precisely why the Lord’s Prayer is placed during the Eucharistic Liturgy, rather than in the Liturgy of the Word. Even though Scripture transmits the Lord’s Prayer, it is during the Eucharistic Feast that we are standing within the presence of the Lord’s Throne, and so it is fitting to offer a prayer to the Father in Heaven as we enjoy that presence of Heaven. But yes, the meaning of “in Heaven” is more broad than that.

A priest at our former parish told us that the original phrase that we translate as “in Heaven” is really “in secret” or “in a most intimate place in our hearts”. As the first poster noted, d’bwashmaja is hard to translate but the notion of the Lord God surrounding us resonates here.

These are good things to meditate upon, and I find it fruitful to play with the words of hte Lord’s Prayer as I drive -
“My Father, who dwells within me and within everywhere that there is Love, may I honor you this day”, etc.

I see “going to Heaven” in the same light as “going to sleep” - or for that matter “going on the Internet” - neither sleep nor Heaven are places, as such (and nor is the Internet) - you remain physically in the world, but you experience something added to or different from the world as you normally experience it.

When we are “in Heaven” we won’t have our bodies at all, but we won’t change location. We will simply experience it way differently than we do right now, and we will have experiences that aren’t possible in our current condition.

God is everywhere, but He is “in Heaven” because (for lack of a grammar that makes what I want to say really work) He is experiencing it (actually He is the experience) as Heaven, rather than in the way that we experience it.

I hope that makes some kind of sense. :slight_smile:

Great answers my friends…better than I could have hoped for.
Yes - great stuff to meditate on.

I don’t have the passages in front of me right now, but I know Paul speaks of “levels” of heaven. Also, in Ephesians he says that God reveals His wisdom to the those in the “heavenly places” through the Church (Eph 3:10??)

How does the Greek used here (and also in the Greek version of the Gospel) compare to the Aramaic?
What does Paul mean in Ephesians when he speaks of powers and princes in the heavenly places?




2794 This biblical expression does not mean a place (“space”), but a way of being; it does not mean that God is distant, but majestic. Our Father is not “elsewhere”: he transcends everything we can conceive of his holiness. It is precisely because he is thrice holy that he is so close to the humble and contrite heart.

"Our Father who art in heaven" is rightly understood to mean that God is in the hearts of the just, as in his holy temple. At the same time, it means that those who pray should desire the one they invoke to dwell in them.54

"Heaven" could also be those who bear the image of the heavenly world, and in whom God dwells and tarries.55 

2795 The symbol of the heavens refers us back to the mystery of the covenant we are living when we pray to our Father. He is in heaven, his dwelling place; the Father’s house is our homeland. Sin has exiled us from the land of the covenant,56 but conversion of heart enables us to return to the Father, to heaven.57 In Christ, then, heaven and earth are reconciled,58 for the Son alone “descended from heaven” and causes us to ascend there with him, by his Cross, Resurrection, and Ascension.59

Read the whole of the CCC on the Prayer.

Angels! :angel1:

Here is the passage I referred to earlier…
Eph 3:8-12
8To me, though I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, 9and to make all men see what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things; 10that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places. 11This was according to the eternal purpose which he has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord, 12*in whom we have boldness and confidence of access through our faith in him
Why would God need to “make known” his “manifold wisdom” to angels through “the Church”?


Yep - that is EXACTLY what that paragraph is interpreted as meaning. That it is though THE CHURCH that God makes known his manifold wisdom to the angels. Why? Why not? The Church is the body of Christ. Can you think of a better mechanism to use?

At the end of time God will make known His wisdom of His plan of salvation where everyone will know how it worked and how each one of us played a part. I bet the angels had a part to play in that plan as satan and his minions had their part to play. It will be made known to all who were a part of it.

Nice - but doesn’t quite fit up with what Paul says here…Note:
“…the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known…”

He says, “might now” - not at the end of time.
No I don’t think that he is referring to angels - and I don’t see how Paul could be referring to satan and his minions…since they are not in heaven.

Anyway this is a bit off topic…I’m more interested in how the term “heaven” here. What the Greek means as it would relate to the Aramaic that was explained earlier…


I also think of the “Our” in Our Father as very illuminating. It is “Our” as in “us”, together with Jesus “Our.” We can say “Our” because Jesus has included us. :slight_smile:

Basically, Paul is telling us that, now, even the angels in Heaven better understand the great Wisdom of God, by seeing how it is manifested and works so well through the actions of the Church that Jesus established on earth. By the way the Word of God is preached by the Apostles, and quickly spreads to all who will listen and follow what it teaches in order to be saved, the angels can witness the Wisdom of God in action. All of this glorifies God, because He created the means (His Church) for all of this to happen, and already knew how well it would work from the very beginning. That’s why it was always a part of His Plan of Salvation.

When I read the verses from Paul in the Douay Rheims version it completely agrees with what you said.
But on further reading if you go to verses 8 and 9 in Douay Rheims it says that Paul is preaching to the Church the riches of the Wisdom of God that he has been given. It then follows in verse 10 that the angels seem to pick up on this wisdom of God as it is manifested in the Church.

It could be that the angels are not privy to the full plan of salvation but can see it unfolding and learn how it is happening. Or it could even mean the growth of doctrine and contemplation of the divine mysteries through prayer can unfold some wisdom that was even hidden from the angels. Fascinating to even think about it and how privileged we are.

For JRKH the New American version has the word “now” that Douay does not. Even though there are different words the meaning is the same in the context I believe.

It is very likely that the angels are not aware of what will happen on earth until it actually does happen. They are also creatures of God, just like we are. So, there’s no reason for us to think they would be any more aware of God’s plans than we are, even if they are in Heaven. They can only see what God allows them to see.

I agree, at least in that particular line, but there are a few other things that still have some subtle differences. I usually prefer to use the Douay if there’s any doubt about the wording in any modern translations, because it can make a big difference in some cases. I always prefer it to the KJV, or any other Protestant versions, for that very reason. It doesn’t take much of a change in wording, to effect a huge change or loss in it’s true meaning.

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