There are a number of important events to remember as we begin 2021. January marks the 158th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation signed by President Abraham Lincoln in 1863. The Emancipation Proclamation was signed January 1, 1863 in the midst of the Civil War that was tearing the country apart.
Tomorrow, Monday, January 18 is a national holiday as we celebrate the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Though great progress has been made in tolerance throughout our country since the 1960’s, there is still much work to do. As tragic attacks on other human beings, shootings and hate filled language that have become more prevalent in the past couple of years has shown, we still have much work to do to make equality for all people a reality. Let us join in prayer and work daily so that all people of the world might realize the “Dream” of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. that we are truly brothers and sisters to one another in the human family.
Friday, January 22 has been designated, by the US Bishops’ Conference as a Day of Prayer for the Legal Protection of Unborn Children. January 22 is the 48th anniversary of the decision of the US Supreme Court regarding the legality of abortion. Through these 48 years since that decision, many words, arguments and various actions have been taken by those on both sides of this crucial issue. As Catholics we are called by our faith and belief in Jesus Christ to promote respect for all of life from conception to natural death. If we say we are for Respect for Life then we need to work, act and pray as people who respect all of God’s creation. The solution to the sometimes, difficult arguments in regard to respecting all of life will not be easily attained. However, we must try with all our might to promote life through our own actions, words and prayers. I encourage you to pray the following prayer, to Our Lady of Guadalupe, Patroness of Respect Life, each day in the coming year.
Virgin of Guadalupe, Patroness of unborn children, we implore your intercession for every child at risk of abortion. Help expectant parents to welcome from God the priceless gift of their child’s life.
Console parents who have lost that gift through abortion, and lead them to forgiveness and healing through the Divine Mercy of your Son.
Teach us to cherish and to care for family and friends until God calls them home. Help us never to see others as burdens.
Guide our public officials to defend each and every human life through just laws.
Inspire us all to bring our faith into public life, to speak for those who have no voice. We ask this in the name of your Son, Jesus Christ, who is Love and Mercy itself. Amen. [from USCCB]
On Wednesday, January 20 we will inaugurate our 46th President of the USA, Mr. Joe Biden. Mr. Biden will say, with his hands on the bible, "I do solemnly swear (affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States." Once he says these words, enshrined in America's founding document, President Biden will then take his place as the 46th president and assume the duties and responsibilities of that office.
The new Vice-President, Kamala Harris (the first woman to become Vice President) will take the following oath, "I do solemnly swear (affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God".
Needless to say the past four years have been a very contentious time for our country. Hopefully, the coming year will see all elected officials and citizens doing whatever we can to protect the rights of every citizen and every person who dwells in our land. As citizens of the USA, let remember to keep all our elected national, state and local government politicians in our prayers and not hesitate to remind them to work for the good of all people. Respect for Life means, as the Church reminds us, to respect everyone, from conception to natural death, especially those most vulnerable in our society, the poor, the young, the elderly and those among us in our great country with no voice.
As we begin this year of 2021, I encourage you to keep in your prayers all our government officials. In 1791, Archbishop John Carroll (who was born in Maryland in 1735 and became the first bishop of the USA in 1789) composed a prayer for the new country's leadership in 1791. An excerpt of that prayer is below and I encourage you to pray these words for our country's leaders and for all of us who live in the USA.
PRAYER FOR THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
We pray O, God of might, wisdom and justice, through whom authority is rightly administered, laws are enacted, and judgment decreed, assist with your 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 your 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 your 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 your powerful protection, to discharge the duties of their respective stations with honesty and ability.
We recommend likewise, to your 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 your 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.
(Prayer composed by Archbishop John Carroll, 1791)