Thee, thou, thine

Growing up, I learned the version of the Lord’s Prayer that you see to the right. When I joined the Catholic Church in 1985, I first learned the Hail Mary and many other prayers based on the traditional language.

Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done. Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.

I guess I just assumed that this was my “church language”, kind of like dressing up for Mass.

It seemed respectful and appropriate. Formal.

So I was rather shocked to learn that these terms are actually the familiar and informal replacements for “you,” “your” and “yours.”

I learned that German (and many other languages) have informal and formal pronouns. You use “Sie” to mean “you” with someone with a formal relationship. After you become close, you switch to “du” which signifies putting away that formality.

It turns out that English used to have this same distinction. You would call someone “you” in formal situations, while for friends and families you’d prefer “thou.”

It sounds strange to my ears.

But it makes me realize that our prayers are with someone – Mary, Jesus, even God – we seek a close, loving, dear relationship with. We call her “Mother Mary,” not “Mrs. Mary”.

Yet I’ve fallen into this sense of distance between me and my maker, me and my savior. God is way the heck up there somewhere, not right here wanting to hold my hand and heal my hurts.

Let me remember that these are some of the closest, dearest, most loving relationships I could possibly have in my life.

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