A Prayer for Our Nation
In 1789, the Pope named Father John Carroll the first bishop of the United States of America. The Carroll family left a lasting imprint on the fledgling nation and its small, but growing, Catholic Church. His cousin, Charles Carroll, was one of America’s Founding Fathers and the only Catholic to sign the Declaration of Independence.
Bishop John Carroll would go on to become America’s first archbishop when the Diocese of Baltimore, Maryland— the mother diocese of the United States—was elevated to the status of archdiocese. He also became the founder of America’s first Catholic university—Georgetown.
Archbishop Carroll wrote a prayer for our newly-formed government on November 10, 1791, to be recited in parishes throughout his diocese.
Herein is reproduced a portion of that prayer. It is appropriate that, as the nation prepares to inaugurate its 45th President and to seat its 115 th Congress, we join the generations which have gone before us in this prayer for the nation.
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.
Through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.