Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Bp. John Carroll's prayer for the United States government

I've posted on this before, but I thought that since it was Independence Day that it would be a good time to post on it again. John Carroll came from a prominent Maryland Catholic family. His brother Daniel Carroll signed both the Articles of Confederation and the United States Constitution. His cousin Charles Carroll was the only Catholic signer of the Declaration of Independence. John Carroll had a critical role in the early American Republic as well, although not in the political sphere.  John was a Catholic priest and eventually was ordained the first Catholic bishop for the young United States of America.

In 1791 he composed the following prayer to be said in all Catholic parishes throughout his diocese (which at the time was the entire United States).  The prayer was a demonstration that the ancient Catholic faith -- the oldest Christian religious tradition -- was compatible and at home with the principles of the new American 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 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.


Anonymous said...

Thank You for posting this amazing prayer- surprising how timely it is for todays political-spiritual landscape!

Phil Johnson said...

The Carroll family was quite well healed and, if I am correct, did a lot to finance the Revolutionary War.
Can anyone speak to that?

Mark D. said...

Yes, the Carrolls were heavily involved in the behind the scenes work on behalf of both the Revolution and the financing of the early Republic. I have read (although I can't recall quite where) that it was also the reputation of the Carrolls as prominent Catholics in an overwhelmingly Protestant country that helped to get favorable attention from the Catholic powers in Europe (France and Spain). Good PR that!