Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven
Fiat voluntas tua, sicut in caelo et in terra.
Of the Seven Petitions in the Our Father, it this third to which I am most drawn as it in turn “draw[s] us toward the glory of the Father” (CCC 2803) through our request for “our Father to unite our will to that of his Son, so as to fulfill his plan of salvation in the life of the world” (CCC 2860). The most prominent, most present, and most necessary gift of the Spirit in the story of my own conversion has been the making possible of the free and complete submission of my intellect and will to God (cf. CCC 143). Left to my own devices I’d embraced a freedom centered in self-determination and the glorification of my will. We are reminded, however, that “it is only in the full submission to the Father’s will that we are truly free and at peace” (“The Our Father – A Reflection”). Here, in the “Our Father,” we are united in requesting from God the continual renewal of the gift of conversion. When we ask that His will be done on earth, we ask that he make it possible for us to keep His commandments so that we might live in true peace and freedom.
There is nothing which is offered to God in heaven by the holy angels except the spiritual worship He expects of us when He teaches us to pray, ‘Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven’
(St. Maximus the Confessor, “Commentary on the Our Father”).
Lest we miss the point that “Thy will be done” requires the submission of our own will, Christ models the meaning for us in the Gethsemane where, “in the prayer of his agony, [Jesus] consents totally to this will: ‘not my will, but yours be done’” (CCC 2824). This interconnection between the realization of God’s will and the human act of faith also features prominently in the perfected devotion of the Blessed Virgin Mary who “responds by offering her whole being: ‘Behold I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be [done] to me according to your word.’ ‘Fiat’: this is Christian prayer: to be wholly God’s, because he is wholly ours” (CCC 2617).
“Thy will be done” requests the gift and repeats the act of faith and so calls out to God to keep us ever converting and turning towards Him “on earth,” that we might finally come to face him “in heaven.” These few words, “fiat voluntas tua,” bring us to the heart of every prayer—that we be conformed to the will of God and thus be made worthy of the promises of Christ. Indeed, for what else would we ever have cause to pray?
Whom have I in heaven but thee? And there is nothing upon earth that I desire besides thee. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion for ever. (Psalm 73:25-26)
Written for a course in Catechist Formation