Q. I am puzzled as to why, in the Our Father (the Lord’s Prayer), we would ask the Lord not to lead us into temptation. Surely he doesn’t. The Spanish say, “Let us not fall into temptation.” I am told that our English version is a mistranslation, but I wonder why we don’t correct it. (San Francisco, Calif.)
A. Your question is an excellent one. This phrase, “Lead us not into temptation” has puzzled people for centuries because the Lord’s usual job is thought to be leading us away from temptation. As far back as A.D. 192, the African theologian Tertullian, commenting on this same petition of the Our Father, said, “Far be the thought that the Lord should seem to tempt.”
The Catechism of the Catholic Church spends a full page and a half explaining this phrase in No. 2846-49. The catechism notes that the original Greek (in Matthew’s Gospel and in Luke’s) can mean either “Do not allow us to enter into temptation” or “Do not let us yield to temptation.”
Quickly the catechism clarifies, referencing James 1:13, that God “tempts no one.” So what we are really praying for is that God will give us the grace to discern what is evil and to resist temptation.
Part of the ambiguity comes, too, from the fact that the Greek noun “peirasmos” can be translated as “temptation” or “trial.” So what we also are asking is that God will spare us from extremely hard tests, such as those undergone by Job, and that we will not be submitted to a trial that we find nearly impossible to bear.
Q. Bless you for your orthodox answers to our questions in your column. My question is this: Are lesbians and their adopted children permitted to receive holy Communion? I thought that homosexuality was “an abomination unto the Lord.” These adopted children are also serving as altar girls. Whew! Are we Catholics ever confused. (La Crosse, Wis.)
A. The Catechism of the Catholic Church in No. 2358 states clearly that men and women with deep-seated homosexual tendencies have not chosen their homosexual condition and “must be accepted with respect, compassion and sensitivity” and that “every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided.”
At the same time, the catechism states just as clearly in No. 2357 that sacred Scripture presents homosexual acts as gravely depraved and that such acts are “intrinsically disordered,” calling them contrary to the natural law and may, under no circumstances, be approved.
In light of that clear teaching, those living an active homosexual lifestyle should absent themselves from the reception of holy Communion until they have sought forgiveness in the sacrament of penance and resolved to amend their lives.
The same holds true for heterosexuals who are engaged in sexual activity outside the bonds of a valid marriage — those living together before marriage or Catholics who are divorced and have remarried outside the church.
Ideally, the lesbians you speak of would recognize for themselves their ineligibility to receive Communion. The church’s Code of Canon Law in No. 915 says that those who are “obstinately persevering in manifest grave sin are not to be admitted to holy Communion.”
But some months ago, when a priest in the Washington, D.C., area embarrassed a self-identified lesbian by publicly refusing her Communion at her mother’s funeral, that priest was reprimanded by his diocese for his lack of pastoral sensitivity and told that he should have addressed the matter of her suitability for Communion in a private setting rather than in public.
But what does any of that have to do with the adopted children of lesbians? They bear no responsibility for their parents’ lifestyle and should be welcomed at the altar rail and as servers at Mass.
Questions may be sent to Father Kenneth Doyle at firstname.lastname@example.org and 40 Hopewell St., Albany, N.Y. 12208.