Tomorrow, we will inaugurate the 45th President of the United States of America—Donald J. Trump. Some folks are rejoicing in his victory, while others are quite concerned about how he will govern or even quite nervous about his qualifications.
I’ve musing about what his inaugural address might be like. Will he make an effort to bring our nation together?
I came across some ideas while reading the alumni magazine of my seminary—Theological College of the Catholic University in Washington, D.C. They just got a new Rector—Sulpician Father Gerard McBrearity P.P.S. this past fall and I gleaned some ideas from his inaugural letter. He wrote . . . .
Every time we bring hope into a situation, every time we bring joy that shatters despair, every time we forgive others, and give them back their dignity, every time we listen to others and affirm them and their life, every time we speak the truth in public, every time we confront injustice, we are practicing resurrection. (Resurrection is about bringing new life where there’s decay or listlessness or despair.)
Father McBrearity was quoting the words of the spiritual writer Megan McKenna in his opening remarks. He goes on to say, “I hope that in everything I say and do I will practice resurrection, that I will be able to bring joy where there is only hurt or anger, that I will be able to listen, that I will be able to speak the truth and confront injustice.”
Wouldn’t it be lovely to hear words such as this—healing words, words of hope, inspiring words, uplifting words, from the next President of the United States? That he would be able to listen?
Perhaps we will. I hope and pray we will.
One of the roles of a president is to inspire the people of the country. Yes, to bring about resurrection. To show us the way forward. To offer hope. To bring life!
It is up to the President to lead us in the work of healing. Should it not be one of his first orders of business to bring us together? To reach out to those with whom he disagrees and be magnanimous, though in the last few weeks he has stubbornly gotten into Tritter wars with people, behavior unbecoming of a man who will tomorrow take the oath office of the presidency of the country he says he wants to make great again. Wouldn’t be great if he were able to make a grand gesture of goodwill to the people he’s offended? Wouldn’t be great if he would tell us he’s going to be a president for all Americans—whites and blacks, Christians, Jews and Muslims, men and women, the poor and the rich; Latinos, LGBT folks, immigrants, and so many more?
There’s something else that I want to add that gleaned from my reading preparing for Mass last Sunday. Bishop Robert Barron, an assisting Bishop in the LA Archdiocese, often has a brief lesson in the Magnificat liturgical magazine, as he did last Saturday evening. He had this to say . . . .
One of the distinctive marks of our culture is a tendency toward self-exculpation (excusing ourselves) and self-exaltation. “I am beautiful in every single way,” declares a popular song. Everyone is a victim, and yet no one is morally to blame for anything. One’s personal desire reigns sovereignly over politics, nature, and religion. This attitude is not only wrong-headed—it is adverse to Christianity, which has to do with salvation. For if there is nothing to be saved from, who needs a Savior? (Magnificat, Jan. 2017, p. 188)
In the Middle Ages, when Popes were installed as Pope three times a papal master of ceremonies would fall to his knees before the pope, holding a silver or brass reed, bearing a tow of smoldering flax. For three times in succession, as the cloth burned away, he would say in a loud and mournful voice, “Pater Sancte, sic transit gloria mundi!” (“Holy Father, so passes worldly glory!”) These words, thus addressed to the pope, served as a reminder of the transitory nature of life and earthly honors. (Source: Wikipedia.)
Does Mr. Trump who is known for his—um—rather large ego–which also bruises like an overripe peach, recognize that he is not the Savior?
He would do well to have something like this ceremony to remind him that THE OFFICE OF THE PRESIDENCY IS BIGGER THAN YOU, MR. PRESIDENT!
So, let’s sum up then. . . .
From St. Paul’s letter to the Philippians for all of us . . . .
Dismiss all anxiety from your minds.
Present your needs to God in every form of prayer and in petitions full of gratitude.
Then God’s peace which is beyond all understanding, will guard over your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
Finally, Brothers and Sisters, your thought should be directed to all that is true, all that deserves respect, all that is honest, pure, admirable, decent, virtuous, or worthy of praise.
Live according to what you have heard me say and seen me do.
Then will the God of peace be with you. (Phil. 4:6-9)
And now my prayer . . . .
Almighty God, Creator of the Universe,
We thank you for the 239 years we have been a strong, vibrant country.
We’ve been through wars—one that almost sundered our own land, and many of our young have fallen so that we could be free.
We’ve been through droughts and depressions, hurricanes, and all sorts of tests to our national will; but we’re still more or less in one piece, dear God.
And now, we come to another moment of peaceful transition of power in our land.
Almighty God, we ask your blessing on Donald J. Trump and Mike Pence as they assume their office tomorrow..
Please open them to your guidance.
Send upon them your Holy Spirit—the Spirit of Wisdom,
the Spirit of justice, peace, and unity for all in our land.
And finally, dear God, we ask your blessing on all the peoples of our great county,
from east to west, from north to south, from the Atlantic to the Pacific, from the Great Lakes to the Gulf of Mexico.
For the kingdom, the power and the glory are yours!
And finally, dear Mr. Trump . . .
The Lord bless you and keep you!
The Lord let his face shine upon you, and be gracious to you!
The Lord look kindly upon you and give you peace!
And now, before you go, here’s the Mormon Tabernacle Choir singing America the Beautiful with great slide show. Click here. Be sure to turn up your speakers and enter full screen.