St. Anthony Parish, Knoxville:
Most people of good will are offering up their own version of prayers that our new president will be able to guide our country well.
Various Internet sites even advise about how to pray for President Obama, just in case you couldn’t get started on your own.
As a novice Benedictine inquirer from St. Mary’s Monastery in Rock Island, Ill., I study the Rule of St. Benedict daily.
By coincidence, the recent readings from the Rule have been on “Qualities of the Abbot or Prioress” and “Summoning the Community for Counsel.” For 1,500 years this Rule has guided all sorts of leaders, religious or not.
What might Benedict have to say to Barack?
The prioress or abbot is to avoid all favoritism … (bipartisan cooperation?)
The prioress or abbot should always observe the apostle’s recommendation, “Use argument, appeal, reproof.” (2 Tim. 4:2) (Not bomb first, talk later?)
They should not gloss over the sins of those who err, but cut them out while they can, as soon as they begin to sprout. (Be vigilant and act as necessary.)
As often as anything important is to be done … the prioress or abbot shall call the whole community together and explain what the business is. (Communicate with the people?)
And after hearing the advice of the members, let them ponder it and follow what they judge the wiser course. (Act responsibly, but not alone?)
Our president is not the same as an abbot or prioress, but the Benedictine Rule and its followers are given much credit for saving Western Europe in the dark days of the past. Our president is not and should not be a religious leader.
But a wise person and nation learn from the past.
Machiavelli’s The Prince led to one style of leadership.
Benedict’s Rule offers another.
Let us pray for President Obama.
President Obama, as you start the new year as our nation’s 44th president, please don’t lose sight of all the people who have lived long and worked hard to see your election become a reality. Help those people, and the people who didn’t vote for you, come to realize their hopes and prayers for better days ahead. Through your vision and guidance help us all work together to unite this country as we strive to become a better nation.
As we unite, remind us of the individual gifts we have to share with all people regardless of religious or political differences. Help us live out these gifts through social teachings regarding the poor and marginalized among us. As you work to stabilize the economy, pay special attention to the poor by promoting social justice and equality.
Lead us to a better life by the way you govern and reach out to ordinary citizens who have placed their hopes in you. Help those in leadership positions to use their power and talents to see the worth of all citizens and challenge us to share and work together for the good of all. May the hope for change be the beginning of something special that all can share.
My prayer for you is that through your vision and guidance we may come to realize our gifts and share them with our friends and neighbors. May God guide you as we share in the goodness that comes with hope that is realized in the works of social justice with equality for all.