Are we to be delivered from evil in general or from the Evil One (the Devil!) in particular? That’s the question Fr. Earl Fernandes, Dean and Associate Professor of Moral Theology at the Athenaeum of Ohio, answers in this his September column for The Catholic Telegraph.
Dear Father: Why do we end the Lord ’s Prayer with “deliver us from evil” rather than “deliver us from the Evil One” as Jesus says in the Bible (Matthew 6:13) and as explained in the Catechism of the Catholic Church (2850-2854)? This question has been very troublesome for me for some time.
Dear Reader: Thank you for your question. Part of the difficulty in answering your question is that we are reading the biblical text in translation from the Greek (ἀπὸ τοῦ πονηροῦ). Some contend that this means from “the evil” as Greek tends to use a definite article. A few interpret this to mean evil in an abstract, impersonal sense or a type of “sorrow” but most would say that the “Evil One” is a better translation. However, I am not sure that it needs to be an “either/or”.
In reference to your question, there are relevant passages in the Catechism. CCC 2851 says that “evil is not an abstraction, but refers to a person, Satan, the Evil One, the angel who opposes God.” CCC 2853 says that “the petition in the Lord’s Prayer asks for protection from the Evil One, whom Jesus has defeated by His Cross.” Still, the Evil One wages war upon humanity; therefore, we pray “Come, Lord Jesus,” since his coming will deliver us from the Evil One.
The next paragraph in the Catechism (2854) is the key to answer your question. We do not need to take a restrictive interpretation of the biblical text. That paragraph reads: “When we ask to be delivered from the Evil One, we pray as well to be freed from all evils, present, past, and future of which he is the author and instigator. In this final petition, the Church brings to the Father all the distress of the world.”
Continue reading Deliver Us From Evil
Feature photo, Temptation of Christ, by Ary Scheffer, 1854,courtesy of Creative Commons/Wikipedia.