If you’ve been a Catholic for a while, you may have prayed the Lord’s Prayer thousands of times. But in all that praying, did you ever catch the part about the Eucharist?
It’s easy to miss because the word “Eucharist” is not used explicitly.
Here’s the Lord’s Prayer with the part about the Eucharist bolded:
“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,
And forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation,
But deliver us from evil.”
But wait, you might protest: that line is about asking God to provide for our material needs. And you’d be right. The Catechism, in explaining this line of the prayer, confirms that interpretation (cf. CCC 2830).
But the Catechism also says there’s a deeper meaning:
“This petition, with the responsibility it involves, also applies to another hunger from which men are perishing: ‘Man does not live by bread alone, but… by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God,’ that is, by the Word he speaks and the Spirit he breathes forth.
“Christians must make every effort ‘to proclaim the good news to the poor.’ There is a famine on earth, ‘not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the LORD.’
“For this reason the specifically Christian sense of this fourth petition concerns the Bread of Life: the Word of God accepted in faith, the Body of Christ received in the Eucharist.” (CCC 2835)
Yes, we humans need bread (or, food more generally) to live physically. But more importantly, to live spiritually, we need true spiritual food: Jesus Christ in the Eucharist.
This Eucharistic interpretation partially has to do with how you interpret and translate the word “daily” from the original Greek. The word actually has multiple meanings and translations, as the Catechism explains:
“‘Daily’ (epiousios) occurs nowhere else in the New Testament. Taken in a temporal sense, this word is a pedagogical repetition of ‘this day,’ to confirm us in trust ‘without reservation.’ Taken in the qualitative sense, it signifies what is necessary for life, and more broadly every good thing sufficient for subsistence.
“Taken literally (epi-ousios: ‘super-essential’), it refers directly to the Bread of Life, the Body of Christ, the ‘medicine of immortality,’ without which we have no life within us
“Finally in this connection, its heavenly meaning is evident: ‘this day’ is the Day of the Lord, the day of the feast of the kingdom, anticipated in the Eucharist that is already the foretaste of the kingdom to come. For this reason it is fitting for the Eucharistic liturgy to be celebrated each day.” (CCC 2837)
This Eucharistic interpretation is, of course, confirmed by the early Church fathers.
As St. Augustine once preached in a sermon:
“The Eucharist is our daily bread. The power belonging to this divine food makes it a bond of union. Its effect is then understood as unity, so that, gathered into his Body and made members of him, we may become what we receive…. This also is our daily bread: the readings you hear each day in church and the hymns you hear and sing. All these are necessities for our pilgrimage.” (CCC 2837)
And here’s a quote from a sermon by the great St. Peter Chrysologus:
“The Father in heaven urges us, as children of heaven, to ask for the bread of heaven. [Christ] himself is the bread who, sown in the Virgin, raised up in the flesh, kneaded in the Passion, baked in the oven of the tomb, reserved in churches, brought to altars, furnishes the faithful each day with food from heaven.” (CCC 2837)
So next time you pray the Lord’s Prayer, remember you are affirming your need for Jesus in the Eucharist!