Pope Francis has said that he is thinking about changing the Lord’s Prayer. First, let us keep in mind that it is the Lord’s prayer and not his. From this point we have a few more things to consider.
The origin: The Lord’s Prayer comes straight from scripture, Jesus’ own words, the unerring Word of God. In Mathew 6, the Disciples asked Jesus to teach them to pray. From this question, Jesus teaches them what we now call the Lord’s Prayer or the Our Father.
The problem: The Pope seems to have a problem with one of the lines in the prayer where Jesus says, “And lead us not into temptation.” This could be a mistranslation into English. So let see what the official Church bible called the Vulgate has to say. The Vulgate is the official bible of the Church and is written in the language of the Church, Latin. It says in Vulgate, “Et ne nos inducas in tentationem.” (Mt 6:13) This is translated in the Douay-Rheims bible as, “And lead us not into temptation.” Inducas means to lead and tentationem means temptation or trial. It seems that the translation is correct, at least from a linguistic perspective.
We also need to note that the Douay-Rheims bible has two things going for it. It has an imprimatur which means that there is nothing contrary to the Faith in it and it is the only English bible that has been declared the Word of God. Other English translations have the imprimatur, but they have not been declared the Word of God. In other words the Douay-Rheims is considered equal to the Vulgate as far as being unerring and the official Word of God. Other bibles may not be exact translations and can even miss quote God, but with the imprimatur, the errors are not seen as harmful to the Faith and so safe to still read. I would take issue with this, but that is a topic for another article.
Now, if both the Vulgate and the Douay-Rheims bible, both the unerring Word of God, both say the same thing, it seems that Jesus meant for us to pray “And lead us not into temptation.”
If the problem is not linguistic then what is the problem? THEOLOGY??? The Pope says that God would never lead us to temptation. Temptation is an evil and God would never tempt us to do evil. If the Pope is correct then we have a problem. The Church, with an official imprimatur, has declared these bibles to be safe to read with nothing contrary to the Faith in them. So if it is correct that God does not tempt us then the bibles are doing harm to the faith and leading us away from the truth, lying about God. These bibles are teaching that God temps us and the Pope says He cannot and does not tempt us. This will mean that any book with an imprimatur is now subject to question and that the Church has erred in protecting the people of God which is what the imprimatur is meant to do.
So now either the Bibles have been correct in teaching us this for all these centuries or it has not.
To find out, we need to ask, does God tempt? The answer is yes.
Nothing happens good or bad without God willing it. In fact, nothing can happen without God. The question is how does God will things to be and how does this happen without interfering with free will. God wills in two ways. With His active will, God directly and positively wills something to be and it is. With His passive will, God indirectly allows things to happen by the will (free will) of others. Keep in mind that they could not do what they desire, good or evil, unless God allows it and empowers them. We can do nothing, not even breath on our own except that God wills it or allows it.
In other words God indirectly wills and empowers evil to take place. Can He really be blamed for it. Let us see. God holds us personally accountable in nine different ways for cooperating in other people’s sin, even if we did not commit the sin ourselves. They are: by counsel, by command, by consent, by provocation, by praise or flattery, by concealment, by partaking, by silence, and by the defense of the ill done.
Notice two of these. God consents by his passive will and He partakes in it by His power that enables it to happen. A stretch you think? I do not. If He is going to hold us accountable then He is also. God is just and fair after all. He cannot apply these rules to us if He is not willing to abide by them Himself.
Another way of looking at God tempting us is from Scripture. Did He not ask Abram to sacrifice his son…? Did He not choose to let Satan throw everything he has at lot…? Did He not harden Pharos’s heart…?
Another way to look at this is from mystical theology. We know from mystical theology that God wants us to be holy. To be holy we must concur our disordered passions and desires so that we may choose and do the good. Perfection is our goal here. Like in anything we want to be good at, we must push ourselves beyond our comfort zone by going beyond our self-imposed limits of what we think we can do and what we think we can be.
When it comes to the spiritual life, God aids us in this goal of being perfect, of becoming holy. In one sense he allows us to be tempted by the world, the flesh and the devil, but not more than we can handle. He does this so that we can be strengthened. A weight lifter will not grow stronger if he does not lift weights. And so it is with the spiritual life. We will not get holier if we are not subject to the tests, if we are not subject to temptations. We are not holy if God only allows us to be subject to good. Holiness is when we are subject to temptation and we are strong enough to rise above it and to do the good instead.
A weight lifter does not start by lifting heavy weights. He would get hurt. Rather, he starts with lighter weights and works up to the bigger weights. The spiritual life is the same. Again, God does not let us be subject to trials or temptations that we are not strong enough to overcome. He allows smaller ones and then bigger ones. Sometimes we think God has overestimated our strength, but even the weight lifter must go beyond what he is able in order to become stronger. It hurts. It rips and tares at the muscles, but he does it, because it is good for him in the long run, he gets stronger. Again, it is the same in the spiritual life. God allows some serious tests to come our way. The question is, will we accept His Grace and overcome and triumph over them?
This is how God digs His way out of the hole of cooperating in evil mentioned earlier. (You did not think I was going to leave you with the idea that God sins did you?) He may have to allow evil to happen because of free will, but He does everything in His power through Grace to see that we are able to overcome the trial so that we do not sin. “Where sin abounds, grace abounds more.”
So when we ask God to please not to lead us into temptation, we mean, do not let us be tested beyond our ability. And when we say “deliver us from evil.” We mean, do not let us be tempted without your Grace to aid us in the battle against evil that we may share in your victory over sin and death. And of course we are asking; PLEASE GOD do not us be tempted or exposed to evil AT ALL, but “your will, not mine be done.” Just help me to become holy, what ever it takes that I may enjoy all eternity with you.
God knows that temptation is going to come our way. With free will, He cannot stop it. So God, for our spiritual good, leads us to temptation, holding our hand, allowing temptation to come our way, but never without His Grace to overcome it. In fact, God is not cooperating in the sin of another at all. He is doing everything He can do, with out compromising free will, to see to it that temptations and trials do not achieve their end. God is the only one who can bring good from evil. The good He brings from our temptations is our spiritual strengthening. He makes us better, holier and more perfect.
Jesus was correct in teaching us to pray in this way. And the Evangelist was correct in recording Scripture to reflect the words Jesus spoke. In this way, do we not do God justice by praying in the words He taught us?