The first evidence of the presence of the Lord’s Prayer in the course of Mass is in the late 4th century. It was first placed between the Breaking of the Bread and Communion, so later in the Communion Rite to where we have it now. Pope Gregory I (590-604) changed its placement to the position where it now is in the Mass immediately after the Eucharistic Prayer and before the Sign of Peace.
It is of course the most precious prayer that we have, being given to us by the Lord himself and so it was natural that it should come into the celebration of the Eucharist.
The Lord’s Prayer fits into the Communion Rite of the Mass so very well. It is a prayer about Communion. It’s very first words emphasize our communion with God and with each other. The words ‘Our Father’ gather us together and place us all before the Father. We pray OUR Father, not my Father. The very word ‘our’ makes us daughters and sons of the Father and sisters and brothers of each other. This is already a preparation for what we are about to enter into in receiving holy Communion – our unity with Christ and each other.
We pray the Lord’s Prayer in union with Jesus himself who gave us the prayer and prayed it himself. So the prayer establishes our union at each level – with the Father, with the Lord Jesus and with each other. This is the communion we all enter into as we receive the Eucharist in which we pass-over to the Father through, with and in Jesus. That communion enabled by the Holy Spirit.
Full participation of all the people in the Lord’s Prayer is of prime importance: we all ought to be able to express our unity with the Lord and each other as we pray this prayer.
By Fr Frank O’Loughlin