Thursday, September 25, 2008

"For Virtuous Governance"

While the nation's 195 dioceses will likely have 195 ways of navigating October vis a vis Faithful Citizenship, one initiative of note came earlier today from Wilmington -- of course, the home-diocese of the Democratic vice-presidential nominee Sen. Joe Biden.

Noting the confluence of the campaign's home stretch with the US church's annual October observance of Respect Life Month, in a letter to the diocese Bishop Fran Malooly reissued the litany to St Thomas More -- declared patron of "statesmen, politicians, judges and lawyers" in 2000 by Pope John Paul II -- written and released by his predecessor, Bishop Michael Saltarelli, in 2004:
One of our Catholic high school religion teachers reports that the sentence "Intercede for our Statesmen, Politicians, Judges and Lawyers, that they be courageous and effective in their defense and promotion of the sanctity of human life - the foundation of all other human rights" has had a powerful formational effect on his students.

The defense and promotion of the sanctity of human life is the foundation of any promotion of human rights and all efforts to serve the poor. Together, with courage and perseverance, we continue to fight for the right to life of all human beings from conception until natural death. It is a fight Christians have waged since the very beginning of the Church in the First Century A.D. and is the greatest civil rights battle of our time.
While the freshly-installed ordinary encouraged the prayer's daily use throughout his 280,000-member local church over the coming weeks, it will be said publicly at the close of all Masses in the diocese over the last weekend of October.

The prayer's text is below:
Litany of St. Thomas More,
Martyr and Patron Saint of Statesmen, Politicians and Lawyers

V. Lord, have mercy
R. Lord have mercy
V. Christ, have mercy
R. Christ have mercy
V. Lord, have mercy
R. Lord have mercy
V. Christ hear us
R. Christ, graciously hear us

V. St. Thomas More, Saint and Martyr,
R. Pray for us (Repeat after each invocation)
St. Thomas More, Patron of Statesmen, Politicians and Lawyers
St. Thomas More, Patron of Justices, Judges and Magistrates
St. Thomas More, Model of Integrity and Virtue in Public and Private Life
St. Thomas More, Servant of the Word of God and the Body and Blood of Christ
St. Thomas More, Model of Holiness in the Sacrament of Marriage
St. Thomas More, Teacher of his Children in the Catholic Faith
St. Thomas More, Defender of the Weak and the Poor
St. Thomas More, Promoter of Human Life and Dignity

V.Lamb of God, you take away the sin of the world
R.Spare us O Lord
V.Lamb of God, you take away the sin of the world
R.Graciously hear us O Lord
V.Lamb of God, you take away the sin of the world
R.Have mercy on us

Let us pray:

O Glorious St. Thomas More, Patron of Statesmen, Politicians, Judges and Lawyers, your life of prayer and penance and your zeal for justice, integrity and firm principle in public and family life led you to the path of martyrdom and sainthood. Intercede for our Statesmen, Politicians, Judges and Lawyers, that they may be courageous and effective in their defense and promotion of the sanctity of human life - the foundation of all other human rights. We ask this through Christ our Lord.

R. Amen.
...and while we're at it, this seems an opportune moment to re-run what could well be considered the quintessential American Catholic prayer: the "Prayer for the Civil Authorities" written in 1791 by the father of the Stateside church, John Carroll of Baltimore, the cousin of a signer of the Declaration of Independence:
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.