Today’s Catechism sections discuss the petition, “Give us this day our Daily Bread”. Supporting material comes from St. Augustine’s “Sermons on the New Testament”.

IV. "Give Us This Day Our Daily Bread"

2828 "Give us": the trust of children who look to their Father for everything is beautiful. "He makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust."113 He gives to all the living "their food in due season."114 Jesus teaches us this petition, because it glorifies our Father by acknowledging how good he is, beyond all goodness.

2829 "Give us" also expresses the covenant. We are his and he is ours, for our sake. But this "us" also recognizes him as the Father of all men and we pray to him for them all, in solidarity with their needs and sufferings.

2830 "Our bread": the Father who gives us life cannot not but give us the nourishment life requires - all appropriate goods and blessings, both material and spiritual. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus insists on the filial trust that cooperates with our Father's providence.115 He is not inviting us to idleness,116 but wants to relieve us from nagging worry and preoccupation. Such is the filial surrender of the children of God:

To those who seek the kingdom of God and his righteousness, he has promised to give all else besides. Since everything indeed belongs to God, he who possesses God wants for nothing, if he himself is not found wanting before God.117

2831 But the presence of those who hunger because they lack bread opens up another profound meaning of this petition. The drama of hunger in the world calls Christians who pray sincerely to exercise responsibility toward their brethren, both in their personal behavior and in their solidarity with the human family. This petition of the Lord's Prayer cannot be isolated from the parables of the poor man Lazarus and of the Last Judgment.118

2832 As leaven in the dough, the newness of the kingdom should make the earth "rise" by the Spirit of Christ.119 This must be shown by the establishment of justice in personal and social, economic and international relations, without ever forgetting that there are no just structures without people who want to be just.

2833 "Our" bread is the "one" loaf for the "many." In the Beatitudes "poverty" is the virtue of sharing: it calls us to communicate and share both material and spiritual goods, not by coercion but out of love, so that the abundance of some may remedy the needs of others.120

2834 "Pray and work."121 "Pray as if everything depended on God and work as if everything depended on you."122 Even when we have done our work, the food we receive is still a gift from our Father; it is good to ask him for it with thanksgiving, as Christian families do when saying grace at meals.

2835 This petition, with the responsibility it involves, also applies to another hunger from which men are perishing: "Man does not live by bread alone, but . . . by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God,"123 that is, by the Word he speaks and the Spirit he breathes forth. Christians must make every effort "to proclaim the good news to the poor." There is a famine on earth, "not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the LORD."124 For this reason the specifically Christian sense of this fourth petition concerns the Bread of Life: the Word of God accepted in faith, the Body of Christ received in the Eucharist.125

2836 "This day" is also an expression of trust taught us by the Lord,126 which we would never have presumed to invent. Since it refers above all to his Word and to the Body of his Son, this "today" is not only that of our mortal time, but also the "today" of God.

If you receive the bread each day, each day is today for you. If Christ is yours today, he rises for you every day. How can this be? "You are my Son, today I have begotten you." Therefore, "today" is when Christ rises.127

2837 "Daily" (epiousios) occurs nowhere else in the New Testament. Taken in a temporal sense, this word is a pedagogical repetition of "this day,"128 to confirm us in trust "without reservation." Taken in the qualitative sense, it signifies what is necessary for life, and more broadly every good thing sufficient for subsistence.129 Taken literally (epi-ousios: "super-essential"), it refers directly to the Bread of Life, the Body of Christ, the "medicine of immortality," without which we have no life within us.130 Finally in this connection, its heavenly meaning is evident: "this day" is the Day of the Lord, the day of the feast of the kingdom, anticipated in the Eucharist that is already the foretaste of the kingdom to come. For this reason it is fitting for the Eucharistic liturgy to be celebrated each day.

The Eucharist is our daily bread. The power belonging to this divine food makes it a bond of union. Its effect is then understood as unity, so that, gathered into his Body and made members of him, we may become what we receive.... This also is our daily bread: the readings you hear each day in church and the hymns you hear and sing. All these are necessities for our pilgrimage.131

The Father in heaven urges us, as children of heaven, to ask for the bread of heaven. [Christ] himself is the bread who, sown in the Virgin, raised up in the flesh, kneaded in the Passion, baked in the oven of the tomb, reserved in churches, brought to altars, furnishes the faithful each day with food from heaven.132

IN BRIEF

2861 In the fourth petition, by saying "give us," we express in communion with our brethren our filial trust in our heavenly Father. "Our daily bread" refers to the earthly nourishment necessary to everyone for subsistence, and also to the Bread of Life: the Word of God and the Body of Christ. It is received in God's "today," as the indispensable, (super - ) essential nourishment of the feast of the coming Kingdom anticipated in the Eucharist.

In his “Sermons on the New Testament” (8, 5), St. Augustine discusses the petition, “Give us this day our Daily Bread”.

5. There follows next, Give us this day our daily bread. It may be understood simply that we pour forth this prayer for daily sustenance, that we may have abundance: or if not that, that we may have no want. Now he said daily, for as long as it is called today. Daily we live, and daily rise, and are daily fed, and daily hunger. May He then give us daily bread. Why did He not say covering too, for the support of our life is in meat and drink, our covering in raiment and lodging. Man should desire nothing more than these. Forasmuch as the Apostle says, We brought nothing into this world, neither can we carry anything out: having food and covering, let us be therewith content. Perish covetousness, and nature is rich. Therefore if this prayer have reference to our daily sustenance, since this is a good understanding of the words, Give us this day our daily bread; let us not marvel, if under the name of bread other necessary things are also understood. As when Joseph invited his brethren, These men, says he, will eat bread with me today. Why, were they to eat bread only? No, but in the mention of bread only, all the rest was understood. So when we pray for daily bread, we ask for whatever is necessary for us in earth for our bodies' sake. But what says the Lord Jesus? Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you. Again, this is a very good sense of, Give us this day our daily bread, your Eucharist, our daily food. For the faithful know what they receive, and good for them it is to receive that daily bread which is necessary for this time present. They pray then for themselves, that they may become good, that they may persevere in goodness, and faith, and a holy life. This do they wish, this they pray for; for if they persevere not in this good life, they will be separated from that Bread. Therefore, Give us this day our daily bread. What is this? Let us live so,that we be not separated from Your altar. Again, the Word of God which is laid open to us, and in a manner broken day by day, is daily bread. And as our bodies hunger after that other, so do our souls after this bread. And so we both ask for this bread simply, and whatsoever is in this life needful both for our souls and bodies, is included in daily bread.

Footnotes

113 ⇒ Mt 5:45.
114 ⇒ PS 104:27.
115 Cf. ⇒ Mt 6:25-34.
116 Cf. ⇒ 2 Thess 3:6-13.
117 St. Cyprian, De Dom. orat. 21 PL 4, 534A.
118 Cf. ⇒ Lk 16:19-31; ⇒ Mt 25:31-46.
119 Cf. AA 5.
120 Cf. ⇒ 2 Cor 8:1-15.
121 Cf. St. Benedict Regula, 20, 48.
122 Attributed to St. Ignatius Loyola, cf. Joseph de Guibert, SJ, The Jesuits: Their Spiritual Doctrine and Practice, (Chicago: Loyola University Press, 1964), 148, n. 55.
123 ⇒ Deut 8:3; ⇒ Mt 4:4[ETML:C/].
124 ⇒ Am 8:11.
125 Cf. ⇒ Jn 6:26-58.
126 Cf. ⇒ Mt 6:34; ⇒ Ex 16:19.
127 St. Ambrose, De Sacr. 5, 4, 26: PL 16, 453A; cf. ⇒ Ps 2:7[ETML:C/].
128 Cf. ⇒ Ex 16:19-21.
129 Cf. ⇒ 1 Tim 6:8.
130 St. Ignatius of Antioch, Ad Eph. 20, 2 PG 5, 661; ⇒ Jn 6:53-56.
131 St. Augustine, Sermo 57, 7: PL 38, 389.
132 St. Peter Chrysologus, Sermo 67 PL 52, 392; Cf. ⇒ Jn 6:51.