Praying in Congress

St. Damien of Molokai – 1 of 4 priests with statues in the halls of Congress

Everyday I pray “for” Congress… but today I had the unique experience of praying “in” Congress!  The US House of Representatives has a Chaplain, currently Fr. Pat Conroy, but on some days they ask a guest to come in.  The chaplaincy is not limited to any specific faith-group, and the prayer offered to open each session of the House is not sectarian.

The prayer I offered was excerpted from Archbishop Carroll’s Prayer for the US Government (my excerpt in bold):

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.

Remember to pray for the Members of the People’s House every day.  But also, remember to pray for their staffers.  Most of the folks we minister to here in Washington are able and dedicated career staffers of the government… and those institutions in its orbit.  Whether in public service  or private business… Yes, even the lobbyists… all of these good men and women came to DC to make a positive difference according to the dictates of their consciences; and that’s a noble enterprise.  Among the workers here in DC are a special breed: the institutionalists.  Every now and then their stories come out in the news: the Librarians of the Supreme Court, the Sergeants at Arms of the Congress, the clock winders a the White House.  Whether they hold very simple or very exalted positions, these are the folks who keep the machinery of government moving; they keep the conversation going, the lights on and the roads in good repair even when their bosses may get… distracted...  So let’s give thanks this morning and pray for them.

St. Juniperro Serra