PRAYER FOR CHURCH AND STATE

On November 9, 1791, the first Catholic bishop in the United States, Archbishop John Carrol delivered a prayer on the occasion of the newly formed government. As a follow up to our Fourth of July celebrations I have lifted a portion of the prayer for our consideration.

“We pray O God of might, wisdom and justice….assist with your Holy Spirit of counsel and fortitude the president of these United States that his administration may be conducted in righteousness and be eminently useful to your people over whom he presides by encouraging due respect for virtue and religion, by a faithful execution of the laws in justice and mercy, and by restraining vice and immorality.”

I invite everyone who loves our nation to reflect honestly and sincerely on these four points not from a political point of view but from conscience. Different folks will have different responses but the important point is to reflect honestly.

1. Is the administration conducting itself in a righteous way? (I interpret ‘righteous’ to mean that executive and administrative decisions build right relationships with the Creator, with neighbor, with the earth, with the poor and with ourselves so that we can truly be free and equal in our nation.)

2. Is the administration encouraging due respect for virtue and religion? (Our government is a secular government so this question can be interpreted as encouraging the natural virtues such as goodness, truth, and honesty.)

3. Is the administration executing laws in justice and mercy? (This question is especially relevant in regard to immigration issues, racial matters and environmental concerns.)

4. Is the administration restraining vice and immorality? (Whatever degrades the dignity of the human person and harms the common good enters into the realm of the immoral.)

Archbishop Carrol’s prayer can become our prayer as well as the subject matter for our thoughtful reflection.

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