GIVE (Our Father, Word by Word)

May 11, 2011 | 6 comments

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…

by Anna Mitchell

GIVE. Grammatically speaking, we have hit a turning in the Lord’s Prayer.

It’s easier to see it in the Italian rather than in the English, so bear with me here. The first three verb phrases are as follows: sia sanctificato (hallowed be), venga (come), and sia fatta (be done). These are all in the subjunctive tense, which expresses a wish or desire. We desire His name to be hallowed, we hope for His kingdom to come, and we pray for His will to be done.

Then we arrive at today’s word, dacci – da, meaning give, attached to ci, which means us. The interesting thing to me is that at this point in the prayer we have now abandoned the subjunctive tense for the imperative: Give is not a wish or desire, it’s a command. Jesus teaches us to instruct God to give because, as the Catechism states, “it glorifies our Father by acknowledging how good he is, beyond all goodness” (CCC 2828).

To give a command implies that you expect the request to be done – often in a timely fashion. And so when we command that God give us our daily bread, we fully expect Him to actually give it to us.

And give He does.

When I think of the word give, it’s hard to ignore the message of Gaudium et Spes (which is the crux of John Paul II’s Theology of the Body). It says that “man, who is the only creature on earth which God willed for itself, cannot fully find himself except through a sincere gift of himself.” Jesus, without a doubt, is the perfect example of such giving. Not only did He give His life once for the salvation of our souls, He continues to give Himself to us every day in the Eucharist.

We’re called to mirror that self-emptying, self-giving love in our own lives.

We must remember, too, that a gift requires both a giver and a receiver. If we’re going to ask for something, it goes without saying that we should be willing to receive it, right? And if we are willing to receive it, don’t you think we should use it?

In demanding and subsequently receiving the Eucharist – which is freely given to us – we are transformed, and become part of the Body of Christ. That does not come without responsibilities. Just as Jesus gives His body (of which we are now a part), we need to give our own lives to His mission: In the Prayer of St. Francis we say, “For it is in giving that we receive.” In John 20, Jesus tells His disciples, “As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” In Mark 10 He tells us, “Whoever wishes to be first among you will be the slave of all.” In Romans 12, St. Paul tells us, “Offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God” (all emphases mine).

It’s a cycle of self-giving. We command God to give, so He gives. If we receive, He commands us to give in return.

The Catechism says that “the trust of children who look to their Father for everything is beautiful.” We have asked for, and the Giver has given, the gift. It’s there for us to take whenever we want it. The challenge for us is to be good and worthy receivers of the perfect Gift from the perfect Giver. It is only then that we are able give as He gives.


Anna Mitchell is the news director and anchor for the Son Rise Morning Show on the EWTN Global Catholic Radio Network. She is also a contributor to the Integrated Catholic Life. Anna’s favorite hobby is collecting old books to add to her bookshelves in her trendy downtown apartment in Cincinnati, Ohio. She graduated from Ohio University in 2006 with degrees in Journalism and History. She loves reading, writing, playing guitar, and watching Reds baseball, Ohio State football and Project Runway. Anna is learning Italian so she can live in Rome someday, and is also very active in the St. Gertrude 20s Group in Cincinnati.


  1. Allie

    Reading this and pondering the differences you could see between Italian and English got me thinking about the translations into other languages. Does the church ever favor some sort of cultural viewpoint when translating? For example, just checking out the Japanese translation of the prayer, it looks like the verbs they chose to use for supplication (“give us this day”, “lead us not into temptation”, “deliver us from evil”) are much more polite than in English (in Japanese, they are “please give”, “please lead”, “please deliver”). Still imperative, but they’re classified as “polite imperative” (I’m not sure if Japanese has an impolite imperative). The Japanese are certainly much more polite/honorific in their language in general. But it does convey a slightly meaning. I’m curious how that is handled in other languages.

  2. Margaret in Minnesota

    This post is beautiful and makes me want to go daily Mass as much as possible–to receive so that I may give back.

    And hey, it includes a study of grammatical distinctions! This former English teacher is in heaven!

    (Well, not quite yet.)

  3. Adam Rasmussen

    It’s interesting to note that Christians, traditionally at least, never say “please” when praying to the Lord. It makes sense: we are like his little children; he is our Father in heaven. A little child doesn’t say, “Please,” but, says, “Up!” or “Hold me!”, etc.

  4. Leah @ Unequally Yoked

    I am a tremendous nerd, so I get very excited when analysis turns of the use of the subjunctive. Great post!

  5. Gary Zimak

    Nice post, Anna!

    I like when you touched on our responsibility to “give ourselves” as Jesus gives His Body to us. I sometimes meditate on the fact that just after being told that she was going to be the mother of the Savior, Mary “took Him” with her to visit her relative Elizabeth (who was in need). In the same way, when we receive Our Lord in the Eucharist, we should “take Him” with us as we visit others and tend to their needs!

    God Bless,

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