The Lord left us a mystery to contemplate. Right in the middle of the Our Father prayer, we pray “Give us this day our daily bread”.  What exactly do those words mean? Was Jesus talking about our human or our spiritual needs?


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The Greek word for daily is epiousios which occurs nowhere else in the Greek Bible except in the Our Father passage, Luke 11:3, and the Apostle’s Didache. In fact, epiousios is found nowhere else in Greek literature except in the Lord’s Prayer. Our daily (epiousios) bread is one translation of a word that goes far beyond our basic needs for sustenance and invokes our supernatural needs.

St. Jerome, in the Latin Vulgate Bible, Luke 11:3, translated epiousios as “daily”. Yet in Matthew 6:11, he translated epiousios as “supersubstantial”.  The root words are epi, meaning “above” or “super” and ousia meaning “being” “essence” or “substance”.  When they are read together, the possible translations of “supersubstantial” are “above essence” or, in effect “supernatural” bread.  Taken literally, our supersubstantial bread is the Eucharist (CCC 2837).


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In the fourth petition of the Our Father, we humbly recognize our need for the Lord and ask Him to supply us with not just the basic necessities of life, but the riches of a full life abundantly lived. “The Father who gives us life cannot but give us the nourishment life requires — all appropriate goods and blessings, both material and spiritual” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2830).

What of the spiritual needs that God will provide for? In the Scriptures, Jesus speaks of three kinds of spiritual food: the will of God, the Word of God, and His own flesh, the Eucharist:  

  • John 4:34 “My food is to do the will of the one who sent me…”
  • Matthew 4:4 “Man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God” 
  • John 6:35 “I am the Bread of Life; whoever comes to Me will never hunger…”

Jesus, the Word of God made flesh, is our spiritual food in the Eucharist! We ask for this spiritual nourishment every day and have the opportunity to receive Him at every Mass!

The Catechetical Application

The spiritual life within our souls, grace, is the most important and valuable life we could desire and ask for. When filled with God’s grace, we are filled with Life itself. St. Catherine of Siena and St. Joseph of Cupertino lived the last few years of their life without any physical sustenance other than the Eucharist. In our own time, Blessed Alexandrina da Costa lived for 13 years without consuming anything but the Eucharist, baffling all the doctors who examined her. Oh, what grace does abound!

 The bread in the Eucharist is not just bread. It is “super-substantial” bread, above all substances, and surpasses all creatures…the Bread is Our Lord, above everything else.  When we eat this Bread, we proclaim Our Lord’s death and resurrection until He comes again! Oh, what grace does abound!

CCC 2837: 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.