By Tony DeGol
The Catholic Register
“…And the new governments we are assuming, in every part, will require a purification from our vices, and an augmentation of our virtues or there will be no blessings… But I must submit all my hopes and fears to an overruling Providence; in which, unfashionable as the faith may be, I firmly believe.” — John Adams, July 3, 1776
The words of our founding fathers loomed large as elected leaders joined the faithful in praying for our nation at the seventh annual Patriotic Rosary.
The gathering, which also included Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament, was held on Saturday, October 20 at the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament in Altoona.
Started during the 2012 election year and held every year since, the purpose is to pray for wisdom in choosing our elected leaders and for their guidance in office, said Patricia Gildea of the Catholic Daughters of the Americas, which sponsors the Patriotic Rosary.
Throughout the recitation of each decade of the Rosary, local elected leaders read comments from past leaders such as George Washington. Their words are a reminder that prayer, indeed, is part of the public arena.
“Each one of them mention the importance of asking God for help,” reminded Gildea, chair of the Patriotic Rosary.
Among the local officials participating were Blair County Judge Timothy Sullivan, Altoona Mayor Matt Pacifico, Blair County Commissioner Ted Beam, Blair County District Attorney Richard Consiglio, Centre County Controller Charles Witmer, and Blair County Coroner Patricia Ross.
“I think all of us in elected office, in our own way, reflect to God when we say our prayers silently prior to meetings, and we ask God to always lead us and direct us in the right manner and to help us deliberate with the best interest of all of the people in mind,” reflected Beam prior to the start of the Rosary.
Prayers were offered for the Presidency, the United States Supreme Court, the United States House and Senate, the nation’s Governors, and the country in general.
The names of all 50 states – ten with each decade of the Rosary – were announced as the faithful prayed “for discernment, wisdom, and knowledge” over each.
Patriotic music and Marian hymns were also sung between each decade.
Bishop Mark L. Bartchak presided at the Patriotic Rosary, and offered a homily in which he pointed out that both our country and our Church are facing challenging times. Those troubles may lead individuals to stop voting or stop going to church.
“True patriotism does not mean that we should forsake our religious beliefs and practices in favor of merely practical solutions,” the Bishop maintained. “That’s why even the concept today for this Patriotic Rosary is an important reminder to all of us of what truly is at stake.”
At times like these, suggested Bishop Mark, we must turn to Mary.
“It is a very good thing to do especially since the Blessed Virgin Mary was free from sin and full of grace,” he added, reminding that she also experienced many of the same challenges in her life that some of us face today. “If ever there is a person to ask, ‘What can one do?,’ Mary is someone who is uniquely qualified to consider that question with us.”
And, along with the Blessed Mother, her beloved Son.
“Let us pray for our nation. Let us pray for those who have never known Jesus Christ and His redeeming love, for moral forces everywhere, for our national leaders. Let prayer be our passion. Let prayer be our practice.” – General Robert E. Lee, 1863