I have learned the Lord’s Prayer three times in my life—in English, German, and Italian.

Like many Catholic children, I learned the English version at Mass. I have a very clear memory of the first Mass in which I was able to recite it from start to finish all by myself around age four or five. I was so proud of myself, and it proved to be a significant milestone in my very young faith life.

Later, during my adolescent quest to be different, I took four years of high school German rather than the more typical French or Spanish. Little did I know that four years of this very guttural and non-Latinate language would get me absolutely nowhere in life. French might have been helpful as I pursued my master’s in liturgy. Spanish might have been useful in my later ministry work with teens.

But, no, I took German. “Vater unser, der du bist im Himmel. . .” and that’s about all I remember.

In college, having wisely chosen not to continue with German, I learned it in Italian. I spent my sophomore year in Rome, going to Mass every week at a couple of the local Jesuit churches, praying the Lord’s Prayer in Italian.

These are not the only languages in which I have prayed—or tried to pray—the Our Father. There was French in Montreal, Mandarin in Beijing, and Latin and Tagalog as recently as a couple of months ago.

When theologians and liturgists talk about the universality of the Mass, my experience has been that it is less about Latin being the “universal” language and more about the rhythm and structure of the Mass and its prayers. Regardless of the language in which the Mass is said, this rhythm is so indelibly printed in my brain and on my soul that language has never been an obstacle to full, active, and conscious participation.

The power of prayer is sometimes simply in knowing the words. Our CatholicsRead selections this week will help the children in your life begin to learn, understand, and live the Lord’s Prayer.

From Paulist Press, we have Kenneth Steven’s Praying the Lord’s Prayer with Children. Designed for an adult to read to young children, Praying the Lord’s Prayer with Children explains each phrase of this important prayer. The illustrations by Laetitia Zink bring the text to life; the description of each phrase is engaging, and the author’s explanations are simple and useful for helping children to learn and pray the “Lord’s Prayer” (“Our Father”) meaningfully. The rich illustrations of children and families around the world help children to appreciate that they are part of a global community and that God cares for everyone.

Help your children pray with the saints with this book from Catholic Book Publishing. Book of Saints – Gift Set is a collection of twelve Books of the classic Saints St. Joseph Picture Books, packaged in a handsome and sturdy slipcase. Each book includes lifelike pictures of each saint in vibrant 4-color artwork.

Discuss this article!

Keep the conversation going in our SmartCatholics Group! You can also find us on Facebook and Twitter.

Liked this post? Take a second to support Where Peter Is on Patreon!
Become a patron at Patreon!

Therese Brown is the Executive Director of the Association of Catholic Publishers. She holds a master of arts degree in youth and liturgy from Catholic Theological Union in Chicago. She previously served as senior marketing specialist at United States Conference of Catholic Bishops Publishing Office. She is the author of Graced Moments: Prayer Services for the Lives of Teens (World Library Publications). She resides in the Baltimore area.

Share via
Copy link