The Our Father – Our Declaration of DEpendence

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of presenting to about 150 high school teens and their group leaders at St. Francis Xavier in LaGrange. Our topic was Living the Mass and we had a very engaging experience together.

One of the parts I most enjoyed was speaking about the Lord’s Prayer. Here’s what I did:

  • I recently purchased a replica of the Declaration of Independence (it’s poster size and only cost $9.95 from American Family Traditions Store).
  • I asked how many had seen the movie National Treasure (2004, Nicholas Cage) and probably two-thirds raised their hands.
  • I mentioned that in that movie, Cage has to “steal” the Declaration of Independence to save it from others who intend to do likewise but for the wrong reasons.
  • I then unfurled my replica and told them that I beat Nicholas Cage to the punch!
  • I asked them who it was that we declared our independence from (England/Great Britain) and who it was that was the ruler of England (King George III)
  • I explained that our country is founded on the notion that we are politically, economically, and socially independent from the King of England who once reigned over us.
  • I then explained that everytime we pray the Our Father, we, in essence, are making a Declaration of DEpendence on another King: our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
  • I emphasize the words “thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth, as it is in heaven,” drawing attention to the fact that Jesus used the word kingdom to describe God’s reign.
  • I then talked a little bit about how traditionally, a kingdom is a geographical area (with boundaries) over which a king reigns and within which that king’s will reigns supreme. Likewise, the role of the king is to protect his people, especially those who are vulnerable.
  • In Jesus, of course, we have a King whose kingdom has no boundaries and whose reign is not located in a geographical area but within us. In the Lord’s Prayer, then, we declare our dependence upon Christ the King, praying that his will be done in our lives and everywhere as it is in heaven.
  • The Lord’s Prayer, then, is in fact our Declaration of DEpendence!

I like to use props when I teach because I think that they engage the imagination of kids. I realize that catechists can run up costs, at times, purchasing materials for their lessons. Some materials can be reimbursed by the DRE however, I like to keep a lot of my “props” for other presentations, so I tend to pay for them myself. I consider these purchases part of my stewardship.

Anyway, another aspect of bringing in something like the Declaration of Independence is that it makes for interdisciplinary learning (there’s a mouthful!). That simply means that the lesson makes connections between the various “disicplines” or subject areas – in this case, between religion and American history/social studies. It never hurts to think about subjects that kids are learning about in school and then see how you can make a connection to the practice of our faith. The more connections they make, the better the chance of them retaining the information.

About Joe Paprocki 2360 Articles
Joe Paprocki, DMin, is National Consultant for Faith Formation at Loyola Press, where, in addition to his traveling/speaking responsibilities, he works on the development team for faith formation curriculum resources including Finding God: Our Response to God’s Gifts and God’s Gift: Reconciliation and Eucharist. Joe has more than 35 years of experience in ministry and has presented keynotes, presentations, and workshops in more than 100 dioceses in North America. Joe is a frequent presenter at national conferences including the Los Angeles Religious Education Congress, the Mid-Atlantic Congress, and the National Conference for Catechetical Leadership. He is the author of numerous books, including the best seller The Catechist’s Toolbox, A Church on the Move, Under the Influence of Jesus, and Called to Be Catholic—a bilingual, foundational supplemental program that helps young people know their faith and grow in their relationship with God. Joe is also the series editor for the Effective Catechetical Leader and blogs about his experiences in faith formation at www.catechistsjourney.com.

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