President George Washington started the tradition of being sworn in with his hand on the bible and most Presidents have followed that. However, President John Quincy Adams used a Law book and President Theodore Roosevelt used nothing at all. President Trump used the same bible that Abraham Lincoln used in 1861, as well as one given to him by his mother. President Trump’s wife, Melania, our new First Lady, held both bibles.
Although President Washington had a prayer session after his inauguration, the use of prayer at the inauguration didn’t begin until 1933 when President Franklyn Roosevelt had a minister give a benediction. At his second inauguration in 1933 he had both an invocation and benediction done. Since then, there have usually been one or two ministers of various religions adding prayers. In today’s inauguration ceremony of President Donald Trump we had six clergy deliver six different prayers or scriptures. This is the largest number in any Presidential Inauguration. President Trump had one Catholic, Cardinal Timothy Dolan, Archbishop of New York; one Jewish, Rabbi Marvin Hier, founder of the SIMON WIESENTHAL CENTER and its MUSEUM OF TOLERANCE in Los Angeles; and four evangelical Protestants, Rev. Samuel Rodriques president of the NATIONAL HISPANIC CHRISTIAN LEADERSHIP CONFERENCE, Pastor Paula White of NEW DESTINY CHRISTIAN CENTER in Florida, Rev. Franklyn Graham president of BILLY GRAHAM EVANGELISTIC ASSOCIATION, and Bishop Wayne T. Jackson of GREAT FAITH MINISTRIES INTERNATIONAL in Detroit. None of the ministers were from President Trump’s Presbyterian denomination. I thought that all of the prayers and scriptures were right on target. The President himself mentioned God several times in his speech. I do believe that we are off to a great start. However, we the people need to continue on in lifting our new administration up in prayer. We need to ask that they be guided by the Holy Spirit and that they govern us using Gospel values.
Today at mass my Pastor, Fr. Steve Hannafin, did a great job of tying in today’s reading of Jesus choosing the twelve apostles and comparing that to our starting a new administration. He pointed out that all of the twelve had flaws and weaknesses, and none were perfect, but Jesus chose them and empowered them to build His Church. Our new administration is made up of people, like us, who have flaws and weaknesses. It is important to pray for them. Fr. Hannafin ended our prayer of intercessions with a prayer that comes from the Book of Blessings but was based upon a prayer that was composed by Archbishop John Carroll on the occasion of President George Washington’s inauguration in 1789. I include it here so that we may all pray for our new administration and pray the God will bless America.
Almighty and eternal God,
you have revealed your glory to all nations.
God of power and might, wisdom and justice,
through you authority is rightly administered,
laws are enacted, and judgment is decreed….
Assist with your spirit of counsel and fortitude
the President of these United States,
that his administration may be conducted in righteousness,
and be eminently useful to your people over whom he/she presides.
May he encourage due respect for virtue and religion.
May he execute the laws with justice and mercy.
May he/ seek to restrain crime, vice, and immorality.
We likewise commend to your unbounded mercy
all citizens of the United States,
that we be blessed in the knowledge and sanctified in the observance of your holy law.
May we be preserved in union and that peace which the world cannot give;
and, after enjoying the blessings of this life,
be admitted to those which are eternal.
We pray to you, who are Lord and God,
for ever and ever.