Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
As we enter the month of November, with all of its festivities–and this year, with general elections upon us–we are called more than ever to reflect on, and pray about, what it means to be part of the “City of God” and the “City of Man.” We really belong to two worlds, which sometimes seem to fit together and at other times not. St. Augustine of Hippo, of the fourth century, was faced with this same dilemma as the Roman Empire was on the verge of collapse and the Church had to come face to face with building a new culture and a “New City.” In this time, St. Augustine wrote one of his most significant works: The City of God, in which he confronted the reality of being part of two worlds. Among other noteworthy quotes he asked: “What are kingdoms without justice? They’re just gangs of bandits.” And, perhaps a little less bluntly (as he was known more often to be blunt), he also said in the same work: “What grace is meant to do is to help good people, not to escape their sufferings, but to bear them with a stout heart, with a fortitude that finds it strength in faith.”
As we are faced with the mission of building our culture again, we can turn to St. Paul, who reminded us to pray for those in authority, and also turn more recently to the “Prayer for Welfare of the Republic,” delivered nearly 225 years ago (November 10, 1791) by Bishop John Carroll, the first Bishop of Baltimore. This prayer gives us a great deal to reflect on in the next week. As we read and reflect on this prayer, it would be important, I believe, in addition to fulfilling our civic duty (which we often take for granted), to make a holy hour in our parishes, Churches, or institutions this week to pray for our country. This can certainly be done in the days of Eucharistic adoration that our parishes have, which follow from the inspiration of Bishop William Johnson, first Bishop of our Diocese, who established Eucharistic adoration to pray for vocations and to the holiness of the people of our Diocese.
“A prayer for the welfare of the republic”
We pray, Thee O Almighty and Eternal God! Who through Jesus Christ hast revealed Thy glory to all nations, to preserve the works of Thy mercy, that Thy Church, being spread through the whole world, may continue with unchanging faith in the confession of Thy Name. We pray Thee, who alone art good and holy, to endow with heavenly knowledge, sincere zeal, and sanctity of life, our chief bishop, Pope Francis, the Vicar of Our Lord Jesus Christ, in the government of his Church; our own bishop, N., all other bishops, prelates, and pastors of the Church; and especially those who are appointed to exercise amongst us the functions of the holy ministry, and conduct Thy people into the ways of salvation. We pray Thee O God of might, wisdom, and justice! Through whom authority is rightly administered, laws are enacted, and judgment decreed, assist with Thy 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 Thy 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. Let the light of Thy divine wisdom direct the deliberations of Congress, and shine forth in all the proceedings and laws framed for our rule and government, so that they may tend to the preservation of peace, the promotion of national happiness, the increase of industry, sobriety, and useful knowledge; and may perpetuate to us the blessing of equal liberty. We pray for his excellency, the governor of this state, for the members of the assembly, for all judges, magistrates, and other officers who are appointed to guard our political welfare, that they may be enabled, by Thy powerful protection, to discharge the duties of their respective stations with honesty and ability. We recommend likewise, to Thy unbounded mercy, all our brethren and fellow citizens throughout the United States, that they may be blessed in the knowledge and sanctified in the observance of Thy most holy law; that they may be preserved in union, and in that peace which the world cannot give; and after enjoying the blessings of this life, be admitted to those which are eternal. Finally, we pray to Thee, O Lord of mercy, to remember the souls of Thy servants departed, who are gone before us with the sign of faith and repose in the sleep of peace; the souls of our parents, relatives, and friends; of those who, when living, were members of this congregation, and particularly of such as are lately deceased; of all benefactors who, by their donations or legacies to this Church, witnessed their zeal for the decency of divine worship and proved their claim to our grateful and charitable remembrance. To these, O Lord, and to all that rest in Christ, grant, we beseech Thee, a place of refreshment, light, and everlasting peace, through the same Jesus Christ, Our Lord and Savior. Amen.