Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Prayer for Our Nation

At last, Election Day! Voters in the U.S.A. will make our choices on whom to represent us from the local to the federal level. God bless us, everyone! God grant that we make the right decisions.

The first Catholic bishop in the U.S.A. was the Bishop of Baltimore, John Carroll. Carroll and his brother Daniel, who had been one of two Catholic delegates signing the Constitution in 1789 (and his cousin, Charles Carroll of Carrollton, the only Catholic signer of the Declaration of Independence) had studied on the European Continent. They were Catholics in colonial Maryland in a time when the practice of the Catholic faith was proscribed, including Catholic education, and thus attended St. Omers, the Jesuit college founded in Flanders for English men in recusant England. John Carroll prepared for the priesthood, was ordained, and became a Jesuit in Europe.

On November 10, 1791, Bishop Carroll published a Prayer for Government, in which, for Catholics, he included the Church hierarchy from the Pope through the Bishops and the clergy. Then he looks at the secular government--and note that, since the prayer was composed in November, it ends with prayers for the dead:

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 N., 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.

Note also the insistence on "equal liberty"; Bishop Carroll (later called Archbishop Carroll) was a staunch defender of religious liberty and particularly the freedom of Catholics to practice their faith in the new United States of America. As the website for the Archdiocese of Baltimore describes his efforts:

When a cousin, Charles Henry Wharton, wrote a work to justify his conversion to the Protestant Episcopal Church suggesting that Roman Catholicism was inimical to a free society, Carroll felt compelled to publish in 1785 a 115-page rebuttal, An Address to the Roman Catholics of the United States of America, his most ambitious literary effort. In it he argues that "America may come to exhibit a proof to the world, by general and equal toleration, by giving a free circulation to fair argument, is the most effectual method to bring all denominations of Christians to an unity of faith" (140). . . . In 1785 he fought a bill that would have laid a tax for the support of clergymen in Maryland. To at least two American newspapers he sent essays demanding equal rights for Roman Catholics.

A facsimile of An Address to the Roman Catholics of the United States of America may be found here, although you must be prepared to read each "f" as an "s"!

Just remember that Catholics have had to answer these charges of being members of a Church that's "inimical to a free society" through the centuries. Think of Paul Blanshard in the 1940's and 1950's. Eleanor Roosevelt feared Catholic influence on education, etc, etc. 

And religious liberty must always be defended. Recently, the Chair of the Commission on Civil Rights said that "religious liberty" is just a code for discrimination (“The phrases ‘religious liberty’ and ‘religious freedom’ will stand for nothing except hypocrisy so long as they remain code words for discrimination, intolerance, racism, sexism, homophobia, Islamophobia, Christian supremacy, or any form of intolerance,” he [Martin Castro] wrote.) Anyone who believes that might act upon it. Eternal vigilance!

No comments:

Post a Comment