Monday, November 11, 2013

In Baltimore, The Church Comes Home

So, here we go again – greetings from Baltimore and the 95th time edition of American Catholicism's Fall Classic.

Under Benjamin Latrobe's stupendous and resonant dome, the USCCB Fall Plenary will open with a 7am Mass this Monday in the Basilica of the Assumption – the nation's first cathedral, the shrine to religious freedom built upon the tomb of John Carroll: cousin of the lone Catholic signer of the Declaration of Independence, founding shepherd of these shores, and the preeminent visionary of this faith's meaning and role in a society that unbound the old Continent's alliance of altar and throne.

Even if its complete agenda remains to be released, the meeting's public sessions are slated to get underway at 10am Eastern. The morning business headlined by Cardinal Timothy Dolan's farewell address from the conference presidency and the customary remarks from the Nuncio, Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, full coverage in video and text will be on-tap here all through. (The marquee item of the two open-floor days, the election of the conference's next president and vice-president is slated for Tuesday.)

Yet most of all for now – keeping with house custom on the great feasts of state, and 
especially on this Veteran's Day – below is the Prayer for the Nation written and first delivered in August 1791 by Carroll, named first bishop of this Premier See 225 years ago next April 6:

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 Francis, 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.