A Prayer for Government

By Archbishop John Carroll of Baltimore

Statue of Archbishop John Carroll in front of Healy Hall at Georgetown University.

Patrickneil / Wikimedia Commons

The Roman Catholic Church and other Christian faiths have a long history of social activism and advocacy for government policy based on compassion and ethical morality. Intervention by the faithful in public policy becomes increasingly important in times of social and political unrest and division, and this gives special relevance to a prayer written by a renowned figure dating back to the Revolutionary War. 

Archbishop John Carroll was the cousin of Charles Carroll, one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence. In 1789, Pope Pius VI named him the first bishop of the United States. (He would later become the first archbishop when the Diocese of Baltimore, MD, the mother diocese of the United States, was elevated to the status of archdiocese.) He is also the founder of Georgetown University, in Washington, DC. 

Archbishop Carroll wrote this prayer November 10, 1791, to be recited in parishes throughout his diocese. It is a good novena to pray as a family or as a parish on national holidays--such as Independence Day and Thanksgiving--and it has special relevance at any time when our government and political consciousness is plagued by division. 

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. 
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ThoughtCo. "A Prayer for Government." Learn Religions, Feb. 16, 2021, learnreligions.com/prayer-for-government-542633. ThoughtCo. (2021, February 16). A Prayer for Government. Retrieved from https://www.learnreligions.com/prayer-for-government-542633 ThoughtCo. "A Prayer for Government." Learn Religions. https://www.learnreligions.com/prayer-for-government-542633 (accessed April 11, 2021).