Have you ever been to Confession and had the priest tell you that your penance was to say one Our Father? Did you think it seemed like small potatoes? Like the priest was going easy on you? Well, think again.
Recently on St. Joseph’s Workshop, Fr. Matthew Spencer, OSJ shared the story of the time he received a single Our Father as a penance – and it turned out to be one of the best penances he ever had.
“It was a few years ago and I was doing my best to make a good Confession and the penance that I got was to say one Our Father,” he recounted. “As a priest I thought, ‘Well, that’s kind of small.’ I mean, that’s what I got oftentimes as a child, but as a priest I hadn’t received that penance for a long time. And then I prayed that Our Father slowly, reverently. And it was one of the best penances I’ve ever had. Can you believe it? Because it was a short prayer, but a heartfelt prayer.”
Fr. Matthew pointed out that the Our Father is particularly powerful, because it is a prayer that Jesus gave us. He said, “To me there is something so powerful about these prayers when they’re said well, but particularly the Our Father. When you pray the Our Father you are speaking to our Father in heaven using the words of His Son. Using the words of Jesus. … Jesus Himself mandated that you and I pray these words. He gives us the exact words that we can use to pray.”
“Does this mean this is the only way we can pray? No, of course, because He also gave us the Mass, and we’re called to celebrate the Mass. He also gave us the Psalms and He used the Psalms Himself. And so we use the whole of Sacred Scripture to pray, lots of different ways we can pray, but there is something uniquely powerful about the Our Father.”
Listen to the full reflection below: