Archbp. Caroll’s Prayer for Government

The following prayer was composed by John Carroll, Archbishop of Baltimore, in 1791. He was the first bishop appointed for the United States in 1789 by Pope Pius VI. He was made the first archbishop when his see of Baltimore was elevated to the status of an archdiocese.

John was a cousin of Charles Carroll of Maryland, a signer of the Declaration of Independence.

Americans among the readership might print it and bring it to your parish priests and ask them to use it after Mass on national holidays.

This needs no translation for Catholics who love their country!

PRAYER FOR GOVERNMENT 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.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Emilio III says:

    The last stanza of “the first US national anthem” (William Billings’ Chester):

    What grateful Off’ring shall we bring?
    What shall we render to the Lord?
    Loud Halleluiahs let us Sing,
    And praise his name on ev’ry Chord.

  2. Indeed, we should all pray for our Governments. I wish our Church–the Philippine Church–also has this prayer for the Government recited after every Mass. Our country needs TONNES of prayers!

    (And incidentally, our Independence was formerly celebrated on the 4th of July too…)

  3. Amen…and Hoo-Yah.

    Lt Col Mickey Addison, USAF
    “Crusader Airman”

  4. Pleased as Punch says:

    The prayer is curious in that, despite explicitly mentioning the President and the Congress, it does not take overt notice of the Supreme Court or the rest of the federal judiciary, although it does speak generally (in the sentence that seems to be directed toward the local state government rather than the federal government) of “judges, magistrates, and other officers.” This is a very interesting witness to a time when, presumably, no one really suspected that the federal judiciary would become immensely powerful. All the same, it is one of the three coordinate branches of the federal government. It gets its own article (Article III) in the Constitution, which Carroll had presumably read. Yet its importance simply must not have been felt. Why else would Carroll omit explicit mention of it? And he would surely not omit it if composing the prayer today.

  5. Father Gary V. says:

    Shirley, How can you call Phillipine “Independence” Day on 4th of July if we are under American occupation. When we had the “real” Independence Day which we celebrates every June 12, the government declared 4th of July as Philippine-American Friendship Day. I believe that holiday is now abrogated.

  6. ThomasMore1535 says:

    Pleased as Punch,

    You make a very interesting observation. In fact, in the beginning, the Supreme Court wasn’t considered all that important. The first Chief Justice was John Jay, and he only served for about five years or so before resigning to become Ambassador to England, I believe. Another Associate Justice resigned after a short time to run for Governor of New York, I think.

    It wouldn’t be until John Marshall became Chief Justice in 1802 (I think that was the year) that the Court would really begin to gain influence.

  7. JML says:

    If you’re ever in the DC Area, check out Old St. John the Evangelist Church’s grave yard. It’s located just down the street from the Forest Glen Metro station (1/2 mile?). ABp. Carroll’s parents are buried there near a replica of his church.

    The replica church was heavily damaged in a recent thunderstorm when a very large oak tree knocked off a corner. I have not seen anything in the local diocesan newspaper about it or if they’re accepting contribtions to repair/restore the church.

  8. Fr. V. is correct. According to wikipedia June 12 is Independence Day for the Philippines.

    “While the Philippines first celebrated its Independence Day on June 12, 1898, its independence was not recognized by the United States until July 4, 1946. After that date, Independence Day was observed on July 4 until, in the name of nationalism and upon the advice of historians, President Diosdado Macapagal signed Republic Act No. 4166 into law on August 4, 1964, designating June 12, which had previously been observed as Flag Day, as the country’s Independence Day.

    Of course, the Philippines were under forced American occupation until July 4, 1946 so that does seem like the better date.

  9. Of course, the Philippines were under forced American occupation until July 4, 1946 so that does seem like the better date.

    It does need to be recognized, however, that the United States had planned to recognize Philippine indepence prior to 1946…but there was that little dust up with Japan that had to be concluded first, including pushing them out of the Philippines. There is much to deplore about the American control of the Philippines, including the push to extend Protestantism over the majority Catholicism, but the Philippines might well have been worse off vis-a-vis the Japanese if the U.S. hadn’t felt the obligation to expel that Imperial invaders.

  10. Louis E. says:

    John Jay I believe stepped down to run for Governor of New York.Then came Oliver Ellsworth(1796-1800) and John Marshall,Secretary of State in the outgoing John Adams Administration,became Chief Justice in the spring of 1801 and served until 1835.

    I’d never heard of “Chester” by William Billings…as far as I know the first of American patriotic tunes is “Hail Columbia” (music for the inauguration of George Washington,1789,words 1798).

  11. Emilio III says:

    Louis, although you may not have heard of “Chester”, I’m pretty sure you’ve heard it played. According to wikipedia there were two versions, the first one published in 1770 and the second in 1778. I hadn’t found a good recording on the web, but Google found a midi file in The Original National Anthem. It so happened that I saw Fr. Z’s post this morning while listening to Chester on my iPod, a version from iTunes sung (ironically) by His Majestie’s Clerkes.

  12. Pierre Hountet says:

    Dear Father,

    The picture that accompanies the post is an… interesting mix of religion and nationalism. It sure does not look very Tridentine to me.

  13. Patricia Gonzalez says:

    Dear Father,
    Happy Fourth from a Canadian neighbour! Bp. Carroll’s prayer is beautiful, and could be used for my own country as well, with the appropriate modifications.
    Thank you for your fine blog, and God bless America!

  14. Woody Jones says:

    I was privileged today to be at Holy Mass at St Anthony’s Monastery, Kennebunk, Maine, at which the prior, Fr. John Bacevicius, OFM, delivered one of his rather famous sermons offering felicitations on the national day, but recalling also the rampant secularism and immorality of the country, and looking at the Book of the Prophet Ezekiel and the Book of Revelation, noting that we need to be among those who are marked with the sign of repentance and mourning for the low state of our land. He did not hesitate to suggest that the relationship of a nation specially favored by God is like a spousal relationship, so that falling away, and worshipping other things than God, is a kind of spiritual adultery, as well as idolatry. Seeing as how we Americans are so blessed, suggesting such a special state of favor from God, then just as Israel (the archetypal favored nation) was punished collectively for its spiritual adultery and idolatry, so too might we be.

    It fits in as of a piece with what Fr. Z has been saying of late (even if thinking of something different): Pray, pray now.

  15. Chaplain USN says:

    Padre, nice pic. I like seeing the Marines in prayer, it is an image I get to see nearly every day. Oorah!

  16. It does need to be recognized, however, that the United States had planned to recognize Philippine indepence prior to 1946…but there was that little dust up with Japan that had to be concluded first, including pushing them out of the Philippines. There is much to deplore about the American control of the Philippines, including the push to extend Protestantism over the majority Catholicism, but the Philippines might well have been worse off vis-a-vis the Japanese if the U.S. hadn’t felt the obligation to expel that Imperial invaders.

    I wasn’t refering to that so much as the thousands of Filipinos, who wanted real independence after they were freed from Spanish control, and were killed by American troops during the Philippine-American War.

  17. As what I recall from our Philippine history lectures althroughout primary, secondary, then at university: The US government’s “reluctance” to recognise June 12 as Philippine independence day is due to the fact that there had been an agreement by the post-colonial Luzon republic (headed by Gen. Aguinaldo) and the US (as represented by an American whose name I forgot) for a latter’s handling of the Islands until such time that the Philippines can reorganise its stuff. However, much antagonism had arisen against the US’ so-called “takeover” that many of our people rebelled against the supposed bypassing of Philippine Independence by “another set of invaders”. And there’s more tricky recounts pertaining to our historical heritage that I cannot anymore outline.

    Thus, as how I should put it, the contention of what should be the correct date of our Independence is most crucial–depending on a particular standpoint. As how I see it, considering our freedom from Spanish rule directs us to acknowledging June 12 in the most appropriate way. On the other hand, July 4 meant an emancipation from US foreign rule therefore handing down to us our claims for sovereignty… and as such an “Independence Day” all the same.

    But no matter, I should review my history books.

    Happy *belated* 4th of July to all US citisens!


  18. Oliver says:

    A nice bit of Americanism to justify land-grabbing rebellions against divine authority and the substitution of masonic control. Modern prelates can of course shower these events with expressions of respectability because they themselves are masons and happily collude with their new masters.

  19. Matthew says:


    So are you saying that George III was the legitimate monarch of Great Britain? If you’re a Catholic, one would guess that you would be a Jacobite.

    Also, I think you do yourself a disservice by labeling Fr. Z a “mason.”

  20. Petty Officer says:

    Mr. Hountet,

    What is shown in the picture is a typical scene of communal prayer in the military services outside of denominational worship (such as the Catholic Mass, hence it does not look Tridentine). A chaplain of any denomination may be leading a prayer during an otherwise patriotic/military ceremony, with people of numerous faiths present. Servimembers bow their heads standing at attention or, in this case, parade rest. Heads remain covered according to regular military custom regardless of the more widespread practice of removing hats during paryer (at least for men).

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