Golden Chain 3602
3602 (Mt 6,2-4)
Aug., Serm. in Mont., ii, 2: Above the Lord had spoken of righteousness in general. He now pursues it through its different parts.
Pseudo-Chrys., Hom. xv: He opposes three chief virtues, alms, prayer, and fasting, to three evil things against which the Lord undertook the war of temptation. For He fought for us in the wilderness against gluttony; against covetousness on the mount; against false glory on the temple. It is alms that scatter abroad against covetousness which heaps up; fasting against gluttony which is its contrary; prayer against false glory, seeing that all other evil things come out of evil, this alone comes out of good; and therefore it is not overthrown but rather nourished of good, and has no remedy that may avail against it but prayer only.
Ambrosiaster, Comm. in Tim. 4, 8: The sum of all Christian discipline is comprehended in mercy and piety, for which reason He begins with almsgiving.
Pseudo-Chrys.: The trumpet stands for every act or word that tends to a display of our works; for instance, to do alms if we know that some other person is looking on, or at the request of another, or to a person of such condition that he may make us return; and unless in such cases not to do them.
Yea, even if in some secret place they are done with intent to be thought praiseworthy, then is the trumpet sounded.
Aug.: Thus what He says, "Do not sound a trumpet before thee," refers to what He had said above, "Take heed that ye do not your righteousness before men."
Jerome: He who sounds a trumpet before him when he does alms is a hypocrite. Whence he adds, "as the hypocrites do."
Isid., Etym. x. ex Aug. Serm.: The name 'hypocrite' is derived from the appearance of those who in the shows are disguised in masks, variously coloured according to the character they represent, sometimes male, sometimes female, to impose on the spectators while they act in the games.
Aug.: As then the hypocrites, (a word meaning 'one who feigns,') as personating the characters of other men, act parts which are not naturally their own - for he who personates Agamemnon, is not really (p. 215) Agamemnon, but feigns to be so - so likewise in the Churches, whosoever in his whole conduct desires to seem what he is not, is a hypocrite; he feigns himself righteous and is not really so, seeing his only motive is praise of men.
Gloss., non occ.: In the words, "in the streets and villages," he marks the public places which they selected; and in those, "that they may receive honour of men," he marks their motive.
Greg., Mor., xxxi, 13: It should be known, that there are some who wear the dress of sanctity, and are not able to work out the merit of perfection, yet who must in no wise be numbered among the hypocrites, because it is one thing to sin from weakness, another from crafty affectation.
Aug., Serm. in Mont., ii, 2: And such sinners receive from God the Searcher of hearts none other reward than punishment of their deceitfulness; "Verily I say unto you, they have their reward."
Jerome: A reward not of God, but of themselves, for they receive praise of men, for the sake of which it was that they practised their virtues.
Aug.: This refers to what He had said above, "Otherwise ye shall have no reward of your Father which is in heaven;" and He goes on to shew them that they should not do their alms as the hypocrites, but teaches them how they should do them.
Chrys.: "Let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth," is said as an extreme expression, as much as to say, If it were possible, that you should not know yourself, and that your very hands should be hid from your sight, that is what you should most strive after.
Pseudo-Chrys.: The Apostles in the book of the Constitutions, interpret thus; The right hand is the Christian people which is at Christ's right hand; the left hand is all the people who are on His left hand. He means then, that when a Christian does alms, the unbeliever should not see it.
Aug.: But according to this interpretation, it will be no fault to have a respect to pleasing the faithful; and yet we are forbidden to propose as the end of any good work the pleasing of any kind of men. Yet if you would have men to imitate your actions which may be pleasing to them, they must be done before unbelievers as well as believers.
If again, according to another interpretation, we take the left hand to mean our enemy, and that our enemy should not know when we do our alms, why (p. 216) did the Lord Himself mercifully heal men when the Jews were standing round Him? And how too must we deal with our enemy himself according to that precept, "If thy enemy hunger, feed him." (Pr 25,21)
A third interpretation is ridiculous; that the left hand signifies the wife, and that because women are wont to be more close in the matter of expense out of the family purse, therefore the charities of the husband should be secret from the wife, for the avoiding of domestic strife. But this command is addressed to women as well as to men, what then is the left hand, from which women are bid to conceal their alms? Is the husband also the left hand of the wife? And when it is commanded such that they enrich each other with good works, it is clear that they ought not to hide their good deeds; nor is a theft to be committed to do God service.
But if in any case something must needs be done covertly, from respect to the weakness of the other, though it is not unlawful, yet that we cannot suppose the wife to be intended by the left hand here is clear from the purport of the whole paragraph; no, not even such an one as he might well call left. But that which is blamed in hypocrites, namely, that they seek praise of men, this you are forbid to do; the left hand therefore seems to signify the delight in men's praise; the right hand denotes the purpose of fulfilling the divine commands.
Whenever then a desire to gain honour from men mingles itself with the conscience of him that does alms, it is then the left hand knowing what the right hand, the right conscience, does. "Let not the left hand know," therefore, "what the right hand doeth," means, let not the desire of men's praise mingle with your conscience.
But our Lord does yet more strongly forbid the left hand alone to work in us, than its mingling in the works of the right hand. The intent with which He said all this is shewn in that He adds, "that your alms may be in secret;" that is, in that your good conscience only, which human eye cannot see, nor words discover, though many things are said falsely of many. But your good conscience itself is enough for you towards deserving your reward, if you look for your reward from Him who alone can see your conscience. This is that He adds, "And you Father which (p. 217) seeth in secret shall reward you." Many Latin copies have, "openly." (ed. note: "openly" omit Clement. Hom. iii. 56. on verse 6. Origen on v. 6 (in Ezek. viii. 12) but retains in Joan. tom. 13. n. 45, Jerome in loc. &c. vid. Wetstein in loc. Augustine adds that the Greek manuscripts omit, but all the present Greek manuscripts retain. He omits it also in v. 18]
Pseudo-Chrys.: For it is impossible that God should leave in obscurity any good work of man; but He makes it manifest in this world, and glorifies it in the next world, because it is the glory of God; as likewise the Devil manifests evil, in which is shewn the strength of his great wickedness.
But God properly makes public every good deed only in that world the goods of which are not common to the righteous and the wicked; therefore to whomsoever God shall there shew favour, it will be manifest that it was as reward of his righteousness. But the reward of virtue is not manifested in this world, in which both bad and good are alike in their fortunes.
Aug.: But in the Greek copies, which are earlier, we have not the word, "openly."
Chrys.: If therefore you desire spectators of your good deeds, behold you have not merely Angels and Archangels, but the God of the universe.
3605 (Mt 6,5-6)
Pseudo-Chrys.: Solomon says, "Before prayer, prepare thy soul." This he does who comes to prayer doing alms; for good works stir up the faith of the heart, and give the soul confidence in prayer to God. Alms then are a preparation for prayer, and therefore the Lord after speaking of alms proceeds accordingly to instruct us concerning prayer.
Aug., Serm. in Mont., ii, 3: He does not now bid us pray, but instructs us how we should pray; as above He did not command us to do alms, but shewed the manner of doing them.
Pseudo-Chrys.: Prayer is as it (p. 218) were a spiritual tribute which the soul offers of its own bowels. Wherefore the more glorious it is, the more watchfully ought we to guard that it is not made vile by being done to be seen of men.
Chrys.: He calls them hypocrites, because feigning that they are praying to God, they are looking round to men; and He adds, "they love to pray in the synagogues."
Pseudo-Chrys.: But I suppose that it is not the place that the Lord here refers to, but the motive of him that prays; for it is praiseworthy to pray in the congregation of the faithful, as it is said, "in your Churches bless ye God." (Ps 68,26)
Whoever then so prays as to be seen of men does not look to God but to man, and so far as his purpose is concerned he prays in the synagogue. But he, whose mind in prayer is wholly fixed on God, though he pray in the synagogue, yet seems to pray with himself in secret. "In the corners of the streets," namely, that they may seem to be praying retiredly, and thus earn a twofold praise, both that they pray, and that they pray in retirement.
Gloss. ord.: Or, "the corners of the streets," are the places where one way crosses another, and makes four cross-ways.
Pseudo-Chrys.: He forbids us to pray in an assembly with the intent of being seen of that assembly, as He adds, "that they may be seen of men." He that prays therefore should do nothing singular that might attract notice; as crying out, striking his breast, or reaching forth his hands.
Aug.: Not that the mere being seen of men is an impiety, but the doing this, in order to be seen of men.
Chrys.: It is a good thing to be drawn away from the thought of empty glory, but especially in prayer. For our thoughts are apt to stray of themselves; if then we address ourselves to prayer with this disease upon us, how shall we understand those things that are said by us?
Aug.: The privity of other men is to be so far shunned by us, as it leads us to do any thing with this mind that we look for the fruit of their applause.
Pseudo-Chrys.: "Verily I say unto you, they have received their reward," for every man where he sows there he reaps, therefore they who pray because of men, not because of God, receive praise of men, not of God.
Chrys.: He says, have received, because God was ready to give them that reward which comes from Himself, but they prefer rather that which comes from men. He then goes on (p. 219) to teach how we should pray.
Jerome: This if taken in its plain sense teaches the hearer to shun all desire of vain honour in praying.
Pseudo-Chrys.: That none should be there present save he only who is praying, for a witness impedes rather than forwards prayer.
Cyprian, Tr. vii. 2: The Lord has bid us in His instructions to pray secretly in remote and withdrawn places, as best suited to faith; that we may be assured that God who is present every where hears and sees all, and in the fulness of His Majesty penetrates even hidden places.
Pseudo-Chrys.: We may also understand by "the door of the chamber," the mouth of the body; so that we should not pray to God with loudness of tone, but with silent heart, for three reasons. First, because God is not to be gained by vehement crying, but by a right conscience, seeing He is a hearer of the heart; secondly, because none but thyself and God should be privy to your secret prayers; thirdly, because if you pray aloud, you hinder any other from praying near you.
Cassian, Collat. ix, 35: Also we should observe close silence in our prayers, that our enemies, who are ever most watchful to ensnare us at that time, may not know the purport of our petition.
Aug.: Or, by our chambers are to be understood our hearts, of which it is spoken in the fourth Psalm; "What things ye utter in your hearts, and wherewith ye are pricked in your chambers." (Ps 4,4) "The door" is the bodily senses; without are al worldly things, which, enter into our thoughts through the senses, and that crowd of vain imaginings which beset us in prayer.
Cyprian, Tr. vii, 20: What insensibility is it to be snatched wandering off by light and profane imaginings, when you are presenting your entreaty to the Lord, as if there were aught else you ought rather to consider than that your converse is with God! How can you claim of God to attend to you, when you do not attend to yourself? This is altogether to make no provision against the enemy; this is when praying to God, to offend God's Majesty by the neglectfulness of your prayer.
Aug.: The door then must be shut, that is, we must resist the bodily sense, that we may address our Father in such spiritual prayer as is made in the inmost spirit, where we pray to Him truly in secret.
Remig.: Let it be enough for you that He alone know your (p. 220) petitions, who knows the secrets of all hearts; for He Who sees all things, the same shall listen to you.
Chrys.: He said not 'shall freely give thee,' but, "shall reward thee;" thus He constitutes Himself your debtor.
3607 (Mt 6,7-8)
Aug.: As the hypocrites use to set themselves so as to be seen in their prayers, whose reward is to be acceptable to men; so the Ethnici (that is, the Gentiles) use to think that they shall be heard for their much speaking; therefore He adds, "When ye pray, do not ye use many words."
Cassian, Collat. ix. 36: We should indeed pray often, but in short form, lest if we be long in our prayers, the enemy that lies in wait for us, might suggest something for our thoughts.
Aug., Epist., 130, 10: Yet to continue long in prayer is not, as some think, what is here meant, by "using many words." For much speaking is one thing, and an enduring fervency another. For of the Lord Himself it is written, that He continued a whole night in prayer, and prayed at great length, setting an example to us. The brethren in Egypt are said to use frequent prayers, but those very short, and as it were hasty ejaculations, lest that fervency of spirit, which is most behoveful for us in prayer, should by longer continuance be violently broken off.
Herein themselves sufficiently shew, that this fervency of spirit, as it is not to be forced if it cannot last, so if it has lasted is not to be violently broken off. Let prayer then be without much speaking, but not without much entreaty, if this fervent spirit can be supported; for much speaking in prayer is to use in a necessary matter more words than necessary. But to entreat much, is to importune with enduring warmth the heart Him to whom our entreaty is made; for often is this business effected more by groans than words, by weeping more than speech.
Chrys.: Hereby He (p. 221) dissuades from empty speaking in prayer; as, for example, when we ask of God things improper, as dominions, fame, overcoming of our enemies, or abundance of wealth. He commands then that our prayers should not be long; long, that is, not in time, but in multitude of words. For it is right that those who ask should persevere in their asking; "being instant in prayer," as the Apostle instructs; but does not thereby enjoin us to compose a prayer of ten thousand verses, and speak it all; which He secretly hints at, when He says, "Do not ye use many words."
Gloss. ord.: What He condemns is many words in praying that come of want of faith; "as the Gentiles do." For a multitude of words were needful for the Gentiles, seeing the daemons could not know for what they petitioned, until instructed by them; they think they shall be heard for their much speaking.
Aug.: And truly all superfluity of discourse has come from the Gentiles, who labour rather to practise their tongues than to cleanse their hearts, and introduce this art of rhetoric into that wherein they need to persuade God.
Greg., Mor. xxxiii. 23: True prayer consists rather in the bitter groans of repentance, than in the repetition of set forms of words.
Aug.: For we use many words then when we have to instruct one who is in ignorance, what need of them to Him who is Creator of all things; "Your heavenly Father knoweth what ye have need of before you ask Him"
Jerome: Or this there starts up a heresy of certain Philosophers (margin note: Epicureans) who taught the mistaken dogma that if God knows for what we shall pray, and, before we ask, knows what we need, our prayer is needlessly made to one who has such knowledge. To such we shortly reply, That in our prayers we do not instruct, but entreat; it is one thing to inform the ignorant, another to beg of the understanding: the first were to teach; the latter is to perform a service of duty.
Chrys.: You do not then pray in order to teach God your wants, but to move Him, that you may become His friend by the importunity of your applications to Him, that you may be humbled, that you may be reminded of your sins.
Aug.: Nor ought we to use words in seeking to obtain of God what we would, but to seek with intense and fervent application of mind, with pure love, and suppliant spirit.
Aug., Epist. 130. 9: But even with words we ought at certain periods (p. 222) to make prayer to God, that by these signs of things we may keep ourselves in mind, and may know what progress we have made in such desire, and may stir up ourselves more actively to increase this desire, that after it have begun to wax warm, it may not be chilled and utterly frozen up by divers cares, without our continual care to keep it alive.
Words therefore are needful for us that we should be moved by them, that we should understand clearly what it is we ask, not that we should think that by them the Lord is either instructed or persuaded.
Aug., Serm. in Mont., ii, 3: Still it may be asked, what is the use of prayer at all, whether made in words or in meditation of things, if God knows already what is necessary for us. The mental posture of prayer calms and purifies the soul, and makes it of more capacity to receive the divine gifts which are poured into it. For God does not hear us for the prevailing force of our pleadings; He is at all times ready to give us His light, but we are not ready to receive it, but prone to other things.
There is then in prayer a turning of the body to God, and a purging of the inward eye, whilst those worldly things which we desired are shut out, that the eye of the mind made single might be able to bear the single light, and in it abide with that joy with which a happy life is perfected.
3609 (Mt 6,9)
Gloss: Amongst His other saving instructions and divine lessons, wherewith He counsels believers, He has set forth for us a form of prayer in few words; thus giving us confidence that will be quickly granted, for which He would have us pray so shortly.
Cyprian, Tr. vii, 1: He who gave to us to live, taught us also to pray, to the end, that speaking to the Father in the prayer which the Son hath taught, we may receive a readier hearing. It is praying like friends and familiars to offer up to God of His own. Let the Father recognize the Son's words when we offer up our prayer; and seeing we have Him when we sin for an Advocate with the Father, let us put forward the words of our Advocate, (p. 223) when as sinners we make petition for our offences.
Gloss. ord.: Yet we do not confine ourselves wholly to these words, but use others also conceived in the same sense, with which our heart is kindled.
Aug., Serm. in Mont., ii, 4: Since in every entreaty we have first to propitiate the good favour of Him whom we entreat, and after that mention what we entreat for; and this we commonly do by saying something in praise of Him whom we entreat, and place it in the front of our petition; in this the Lord bids us say no more than only, "Our Father which art in Heaven."
Mary things were said of them to the praise of God, yet do we never find it taught to the children of Israel to address God as 'Our Father;' He is rather set before them as a Lord over slaves. But of Christ's people the Apostle says, "We have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry Abba, Father," (Rm 8,15) and that not of our deservings, but of grace. This then we express in the prayer when we say, "Father;" which name also stirs up love. For what can be dearer than sons are to a father? And a suppliant spirit, in that men should say to God "Our Father." And a certain presumption that we shall obtain; for what will He not give to His sons when they ask of Him, who has given them that first that they should be sons?
Lastly, how great anxiety possesses his mind, that having called God his Father, he should not be unworthy of such a Father. By this the rich and the noble are admonished when they have become Christians not to be haughty towards the poor or truly born, who like themselves may address God as "Our Father;" and they therefore cannot truly or piously say this unless they acknowledge such for brethren.
Chrys.: For what hurt does such kindred with those beneath us, when we are all alike kin to One above us? For who calls God Father, in that one title confesses at once the forgiveness of sins, the adoption, the heirship, the brotherhood, which he has with the Only-begotten, and the gift of the Spirit. For none can call God Father, but he who has obtained all these blessings. In a two-fold manner, therefore, he moves the feeling of them that pray, both by the dignity of Him who is prayed to, and the greatness of those benefits which we gain by prayer.
Cyprian, Tr. vii. 4: We say not My Father, but "Our Father," for the teacher of peace and master (p. 224) of unity would not have men pray singly and severally, since when any prays, he is not to pray for himself only. Our prayer is general and for all, and when we pray, we pray not for one person, but for us all, because we all are one. So also He willed that one should pray for all, according as Himself in one did bear us all.
Pseudo-Chrys.: To pray for ourselves it is our necessity compels us, to pray for others brotherly charity instigates.
Gloss. ord.: Also because He is a common Father of all, we say, "Our Father;" not "My Father" which is appropriate to Christ alone, who is his Son by nature.
Pseudo-Chrys.: "Which are in heaven," is added, that we may know that we have a heavenly Father, and may blush to immerse ourselves wholly in earthly things when we have a Father in heaven.
Cassian, Collat. ix. 18: And that we should speed with strong desire thitherward where our Father dwells.
Chrys.: "In heaven," not confining God's presence to that, but withdrawing the thoughts of the petitioner from earth and fixing them on things above.
Aug., Serm. in Mont., ii, 5: Or; "in heaven" is among the saints and the righteous men; for God is not contained in space. For the heavens literally are the upper parts of the universe, and if God be thought to be in them, then are the birds of more desert than men, seeing they must have their habitation nearer to God. But, "God is nigh," (Ps 34,18) it is not said to the men of lofty stature, or to the inhabitants of the mountain tops; but, "to the broken in heart."
But as the sinner is called 'earth,' as "earth thou art, and unto earth thou must return," (Gn 3,19) so might the righteous on the other hand be called 'the heaven.' Thus then it would be rightly said "Who art in heaven," for there would seem to be as much difference spiritually between the righteous and sinners, as locally, between heaven and earth.
With the intent of signifying which thing it is, that we turn our faces in prayer to the east, not as though God was there only, deserting all other parts of the earth; but that the mind may be reminded to turn itself to that nature which is more excellent, that is to God, when his body, which is of earth, is turned to the more excellent body which is of heaven. For it is desirable that all, both small and great, should have right conceptions of God, and therefore for such as cannot fix their thought on spiritual natures, (p. 225) it is better that they should think of God as being in heaven than in earth.
Aug.: Having named Him to whom prayer is made and where He dwells, let us now see what things they are for which we ought to pray. But the first of all the things that are prayed for it, "Hallowed be thy name," not implying that the name of God is not holy, but that it may be held sacred of men; that is, that God may be so known that nothing may be esteemed more holy.
Chrys.: Or, He bids us in praying beg that God may be glorified in our life; as if we were to say, Make us to live so that all things may glorify Thee through us. For "hallowed" signifies the same as glorified. It is a petition worthy to be made by man to God, to ask nothing before the glory of the Father, but to postpone all things to His praise.
Cyprian, Tr. vii, 7: Otherwise, we say this not as wishing for God to be made holy by our prayers, but asking of Him for His name to be kept holy in us. For seeing He Himself has said, "Be ye holy, for I also am holy," (Lv 20,7) it is this that we ask and request that we who have been sanctified in Baptism, may persevere such as we have begun.
Aug., De Don. Pers. 2: But why is this perseverance asked of God, if, as the Pelagians say, it is not given by God? Is it not a mocking petition to ask of God what we know is not given by Him, but is in the power of man himself to attain?
Cyprian: For this we daily make petition, since we need a daily sanctification, in order that we who sin day by day, may cleanse afresh our offences by a continual sanctification.
3610 (Mt 6,10)
Gloss. ord.: It follows suitably, that after our adoption as sons, we should ask a kingdom which is due to sons.
Aug., Serm. in Mont., ii, 6: This is not so said as though God did not now reign on earth, or had not reigned over it always. "Come," must therefore be taken for "be manifested to men." For none shall then be ignorant of His kingdom, when His Only-begotten not in understanding only, but in visible shape shall come to judge the quick and dead. This day of judgment the Lord teaches shall then come, when the Gospel shall have been preached to all nations; which thing pertains to the hallowing of God's (p. 226) name.
Jerome: Either it is a general prayer for the kingdom of the whole world that the reign of the Devil may cease; or for the kingdom in each of us that God may reign there, and that sin may not reign in our mortal body.
Cyprian, Tr. vii, 8: Or; it is that kingdom which was promised to us by God, and bought with Christ's blood; that we who before in the world have been servants, may afterwards reign under the dominion of Christ.
Aug., Epist., 130, 11: For the kingdom of God will come whether we desire it or not. But herein we kindle our desires towards that kingdom, that it may come to us, and that we may reign in it.
Cassian, Collat., ix, 19: Or, because the Saint knows by the witness of his conscience, that when the kingdom of God shall appear, he shall be partaker therein.
Jerome: But be it noted, that it comes of high confidence, and of an unblemished conscience only, to pray for the kingdom of God, and not to fear the judgment.
Cyprian: The kingdom of God may stand for Christ Himself, whom we day by day wish to come, and for whose advent we pray that it may be quickly manifested to us. As He is our resurrection, because in Him we rise again, so may He be called the kingdom of God, because we are to reign in Him. Rightly we ask for God's kingdom, that is, for the heavenly, because there is a kingdom of this earth beside. He, however, who has renounced the world, is superior to its honours and to its kingdom; and hence he who dedicates himself to God and to Christ, longs not for the kingdom of earth, but for the kingdom of Heaven.
Aug., De Don. Pers. 2: When they pray, "Let thy kingdom come," what else do they pray for who are already holy, but that they may persevere in that holiness they now have given unto them? For no otherwise will the kingdom of God come, than as it is certain it will come to those that persevere unto the end.
v. 10: "Thy will be done in earth as it is in Heaven."
Aug., Serm. in Mont., ii, 6: In that kingdom of blessedness the happy life will be made perfect in the Saints as it now is in the heavenly Angels; and therefore after the petition, "Thy kingdom come," follows, "Thy will be done as in heaven, so in earth." That (p. 227) is, as by the Angels who are in Heaven Thy will is done so as that they have fruition of Thee, no error clouding their knowledge, no pain marring their blessedness; so may it be done by Thy Saints who are on earth, and who, as to their bodies, are made of earth. So that, "Thy will be done," is rightly understood as, 'Thy commands be obeyed;' "as in heaven, so in earth," that is, as by Angels, so by men; not that they do what God would have them do, but they do because He would have them do it; that is, they do after His will.
Chrys.: See how excellently this follows; having taught us to desire heavenly things by that which He said, "Thy kingdom come," before we come to Heaven He bids us make this earth into Heaven, in that saying, "Thy will be done as in heaven, so in earth."
Jerome: Let them be put to shame by this text who falsely affirm that there are daily falls (margin note: ruinas) in Heaven. (ed. note: There were various opinions in the first ages about the indefectibility and perfection of good spirits, vid. Petav. de Angelis iii. 2, &c. Dissert. Bened. in Cyril. Hier. iii. 5. Huet. Origenian. ii. 5. n. 16. Nat. Alex. in prim. mund. aot. Diss. 7.]
Aug.: Or; as by the righteous, so by sinners; as if He had said, As the righteous do Thy will, so also may sinners; either by turning to Thee, or in receiving every man his just reward, which shall be in the last judgment.
Or, by the heaven and the earth we may understand the spirit and the flesh. As the Apostle says, "In my mind I obey the law of God," (Rm 7,25) we see the will of God done in the spirit. But in that change which is promised to the righteous there, "Let thy will be done as in heaven, so in earth;" that is, as the spirit does not resist God, so let the body not resist the spirit.
Or; "as in heaven, so in earth," as in Christ Jesus Himself, so in His Church; as in the Man who did His Father's will, so in the woman who is espoused of Him. And heaven and earth may be suitably understood as husband and wife, seeing it is of the heaven that the earth brings forth her fruits.
Cyprian: We ask not that God may do His own will, but that we may be enabled to do what He wills should be done by us; and that it may be done in us we stand in need of that will, that is, of God's aid and protection; for no man is strong by his own strength, but it safe in the indulgence and pity of God.
Chrys.: For (p. 228) virtue is not of our own efforts, but of grace from above. Here again is enjoined on each one of us prayer for the whole world, inasmuch as we are not to say, Thy will be done in me, or in us; but throughout the earth, that error may cease, truth be planted, malice be banished, and virtue return, and thus the earth not differ from heaven.
Aug., De Don. Pers., 3: From this passage is clearly shewn against the Pelagians that the beginning of faith is God's gift, when Holy Church prays for unbelievers that they may begin to have faith. Moreover, seeing it is done already in the Saints, why do they yet pray that it may be done, but that they pray that they may persevere in that they have begun to be?
Pseudo-Chrys.: These words, "As in heaven so in earth," must be taken as common to all three preceding petitions. Observe also how carefully it is worded; He said not, Father, hallow Thy name in us, Let Thy kingdom come on us, Do Thy will in us. Nor again; Let us hallow Thy name, Let us enter into Thy kingdom, Let us do Thy will; that it should not seem to be either God's doing only, or man's doing only. But He used a middle form of speech, and the impersonal verb; for as man can do nothing good without God's aid, so neither does God work good in man unless man wills it.
Golden Chain 3602