March 11, 2009

Reading the 1593 ‘Ama Namin’ as a Filipino

The Lord’s Prayer without a doubt, is the most eminent prayers among Christians. It distills the substance of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and suggests its practice in life.Indeed, The "Our Father" can be regarded as a "school prayer“ as well as a “school life."

To date, however, one has yet to come across a commentary on the Prayer written specifically from a Filipino Cultural perspective. Dr. Jose de Mesa , a theologian reflects on the The Lords Prayer precisely as a Filipino. Using the 1593 Tagalog translation of the text as basis. Our university sponsored a Theological Forum on Contextual Theology with Dr. Jose de Mesa as our Speaker/Facilitator.

Within the discipline of theology, this endeavor is known as “inculturation,” or doing theology with cultural resources. Permit me to explain with a specific historical example. While local precedents are hard to come by,the largely unknown text of the 1593 version of the Ama Namin (Our Father) in the Doctrina Christiana provides insights in doing theology in the Filipino cultural context. Not only does it illustrate the positive values of the Filipino culture in general, it also shows the capacity of the Filipino language to articulate the faith in particular and provide fresh categories for understanding the Gospel. The text, which was printed both in our ancient native script and in a Romanized form, reads as follows :

Ama namin nasa langit ca
Ypasamba mo ang ngalan mo
moui sa amin ang pagcahari mo.
Ypa sonod mo ang loob mo dito
sa lupa parang sa langit.
Bigyan mo cami ngaion nang aming cacanin
para nang sa araoarao
at pacaulin mo ang aming casalanan
ya iang uinaualan bahala namin sa loob
ang casalanan nang nagcacasal amin.
Huoag mo caming aeuan
nang di cami matalo nang tocso.
Datapuoat iadya mo cami sa dilan masama.
Amen. Hesus.

Below is Dr. Mendoza’s translation of the text into English which, we hope, reflects as closely as possible the cultural meanings the words represent.In relation to its content, I shall only comment on two very meaningful themes in the Filipino culture - relationships and food to illustrate how the wisdom and genius of a culture can make for a richer understanding of the Christian faith.

Our Father, you are in heaven.
Make your name be worshipped.
Make your kingdom come home to us.
Make your most authentic self be followed
here on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily rice.
And release our sins as we are completely indifferent
within our most authentic relational self
to the sins of those who sin against us.
Do not leave us so we are not overcome by temptation.
But deliver us from every evil.
Amen. In the name of Jesus.