What is one of the biggest problems in your life and in mine?
We don’t treat other people as we should. We treat them as objects of our lust, workers to fulfill our wishes, servants to obey our commands.
Our relationship problems, our marriage problems, our family problems, our work problems, our neighborhood problems, our parish problems are all because we don’t treat others with the respect, honor, love and courtesy they deserve.
Why is this? Because we do not see their intrinsic and eternal dignity. We do not see their true worth. We do not see their infinite majesty as sons and daughters of the king of kings. Each one is an everlasting diamond, but we treat them like trash.
I have a theory.
I think it is because we do not, first of all, see our own true value and eternal worth. We do not really see ourselves as radiant sons and daughters of the king of kings, so we naturally cannot see others for who they truly are.
We look in the mirror and we see a wretch, a failure, a loser pretending to be a winner. We blame ourselves, we tell ourselves how unworthy and terrible we are. Why? Because someone who was important somewhere along the line told us that. Maybe it was a preacher who said, “We are all sinners and there is no good in us. We are dung and dirt. We are mess and filth.” Right. So I believed him and have therefore always seen myself as a turd and so if I am that bad, then everybody else must be too.
But there is more to it.
We can’t actually see ourselves created in God’s splendid and majestic image if we don’t first of all acknowledge and understand and experience his eternal majesty, grandeur, simplicity, love, beauty and goodness. If we can’t see and know and understand that to start with then we can’t see ourselves as in his splendid image and if we can’t see ourselves reflecting his majesty, goodness, truth and beauty, then we sure as hell can’t see it in other people.
And this is why the Lord’s Prayer — the Paternoster — the Our Father — is the most important prayer.
It’s because right at the beginning we say, “Our Father who art in heaven, Hallowed be Thy name.”
First of all “Our Father.” If he is our father, then we are his children and if his children, then created in his own image. We acknowledge that truth as we acknowledge his fatherhood.
Then we say “Hallowed or ‘Holy’ be your name.” By “holy” we don’t mean terribly pious and prissy. We don’t mean awfully religious and we don’t mean very much a do-gooder.
Instead “holy” means “whole” or complete, totally one and totally all. By “holy” we mean superabundant in goodness, truth and beauty — in fact the very source of all beauty, truth and goodness. By “holy” we mean splendid and admirable and worthy of all praise. We mean awesome and marvelous beyond words. We mean all good things in the grandeur unimaginable.
Once we get that glimpse of God the Father almighty — and when I say glimpse I mean what is required is a kind of mystical vision.
We have to pray to understand and see this splendid beauty with the eye of our heart and the ear of our mind and the inner source of love within our own hearts.
Once that vision is granted, once that experience is vouchsafed, once that encounter breaks into our whole being then everything else will follow.
Then, knowing God’s goodness, truth and beauty, we will see ourselves immersed and one with that same goodness, truth and beauty.
And once we see ourselves with such benevolence and love we will be able to see that same poignant beauty locked in the heart, minds and lives of others.
This can happen simply by praying the Lord’s prayer in a simple, meditative and profound manner.
All we need to do is pray before the prayer, “Lord teach me to pray.”