The last petition of the Lord’s Prayer makes us aware of the presence of Evil in the world. This awareness leads us to ask God to grant us the grace to persevere in doing only His good will.
PUBLISHED ONDec 2021
The Compendium of The Catechism of the Catholic Church n. 597 says: “Evil” indicates the person of Satan who opposes God and is “the deceiver of the world.” (Revelation 12:9) Victory over the devil has already been won by Christ. We pray, however, that the human family be freed from Satan and his works. We also ask for the precious gift of peace and the grace of perseverance as we wait for the coming of Christ who will free us definitively from the Evil One.
This petition is sustained by the prayer of Jesus: “I am not asking you to remove them from the world, but to protect them from the Evil One.” (John 17, 15) Naturally, the disciples of Jesus do not pray only for themselves but for the whole of humanity. In line with this prayer of Jesus, many people pray often to Saint Michael the Archangel: “Saint Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle. Be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil. May God rebuke him, we humbly pray, and do thou, o Prince of the heavenly hosts, by the power of God, thrust into hell Satan and all the evil spirits, who prowl about the world seeking the ruin of souls.”
‘Deliver Me From Evil’
For a long time before Vatican II, this prayer was recited every day after Mass. At present, many people pray every day with the simple invocation “Deliver us from evil.” Father Marco Pozza, an Italian priest, prison chaplain and friend of Pope Francis, had several conversations with the Pope about the Our Father. He gave this testimony: “At the juvenile prison on the island of Nisida, across from Naples (Italy), one young man gave me the gift of touching confidence. ‘There is only one thing I repeat under the covers before I go to sleep at night: Lord, deliver me from evil’. Hearing a sixteen-year-old say this made me aware of the real concreteness of evil.”
Talking about the connection between prayer and life, Pope Francis insisted upon constant vigilance in our journey of life. Without vigilance, prayer loses its power. This is why Saint Peter wrote: “Bow down, then, before the power of God now, so that he may raise you up in due time; unload all your burden on to him, since he is concerned about you. Keep sober and alert, because your enemy the devil is on to prowl like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. Stand up to him, strong in faith and in the knowledge that it is the same kind of suffering that the community of your brothers throughout the world is undergoing.” (1 Peter 5, 6-9)
Jesus Overcame Evil
All that has been said above makes us understand that as we pray, we cannot close our eyes upon life with its difficulties and failures which are consequences of the work of the evil one. At times they look even stronger than God’s action to save because of what we experience every day: the suffering of innocent children, the oppression of the poor, the wars with their diabolic killings, perversion as a lifestyle considered normal by so many, power exercised to oppress others, pleasure without moral laws, etc. The above-mentioned experiences can become so heavy that many people are tempted to despair. But then we look at Jesus who experienced in fullness the effects of evil in a very personal way: cruelty, contempt, and aggressiveness against Him. He prayed: “Abba, Father, all things are possible to you. Take this cup away from me, but not what I will but what you will.”
Jesus was very powerful in overcoming evil and He shares His power with us. Pope Francis said: “Every Christian knows how heavy the power of evil is, but at the same time he/she experiences the power of Jesus who never gave in to its allurement and is now for us and with us to help us.” What a blessing we have!
As we pray “Deliver us from evil”, we trust also in the power of the Holy Spirit, in the intercession of Mary, our Mother, and of all the Saints.