Include prayers for president and prime minister in Mass

We will continue to chant, “Bharat Mata ki jai”


By Fr. Mathew Kizhackechira

New Delhi: The recent letter of Archbishop Anil Couto of Delhi urging his people pray for the nation triggered an avalanche of criticisms from media and politicians.

The May 8 letter notes that the current turbulent situations in India seem to threaten the country’s Constitution. Many looked at the letter with suspicion and asked one vital question, why such a letter for the nation was issued when the general election is near.

I felt deeply affected as the criticisms questioned the loyalty of the entire Christian community in India to our nation. Critics seem to doubt our call to prayer as indirect support to a particular political party.

Hence I searched hard for an answer and solution. I asked myself: Are we to pray for our nation only before an election? Why can’t we always pray for our nation? The reflection prompted me to put forward a suggestion — add some words to our Mass prayers. Even other countries could adopt this.

Mass is the most important prayer for Catholics. The whole Christian life is centred on it. We do pray for the nation in every Mass. Why can’t we go a little further and insert in the intercessory prayers the names of our president and prime minister along with the names of the Pope and local bishops?

Is it not on par with the Jesus’s stance regarding obedience and allegiance to the authority? Jesus said, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s; and to God the things that are God’s” (Matthew 22:21). These words imply that as a believer a person has a duty towards his religion and as citizen towards his nation.

St. Paul also speaks likewise in Romans 13:1 “Let every person be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God and those which exist are established by God.”

The Bible thus reminds us of our duty towards the nation. If so, is not praying for them also be a sign of our loyalty towards our nation, although we need not provide evidence to anyone for our loyalty to this nation?

But still, to shut some mouths that speak always lies against us, I think this inclusion of our leaders’ names in Mass will help not only our nation but prove that we are not affiliated to any party in the country. It will also show that we accept our president and prime ministers as our own.

It will also prove that the Church does not meddle with politics or interfere with citizens’ freedom to vote for whomever they want. If this suggestion is taken seriously, our intercessory prayer would read like;

“… We pray for Francis our Pope, Anil (/name of local bishop) our Bishop, Ram Nath Kovind, the President of our nation, and Narendra Modi, Our Prime Minister…”

Some may ask why we can’t include the name of chief minister and other local authorities. Our loyalty is not to a state or province but to the nation. Praying for the head of the nation is praying for the entire country.

Fr Mathew Kizhakechira
This proposal does not come out of a compulsion to prove Christians’ loyalty to the nation. It is to stress the need to increase our prayers for the nation whatever be its atmosphere, turbulent or peaceful.

Is anyone excluded from the list of people that Christians can pray for? None. So, it is our duty and responsibility as citizens to pray for our rulers.

We are the citizens of this great nation and we too make the Indian flag fly even in the Vatican City. Lies repeated a thousand times questioning our Indian-ness will not dent our loyalty to the nation. We will continue to shout with pride: “Bharat Mata ki jai.”

(Father Mathew Abraham Kizhakechira is the current parish priest of Holy Family Church, Pushpa Vihar, New Delhi, a parish under the Faridabad Syro-Malabar diocese. He has served as the Public Relations Office of the diocese and secretary to Archbishop Kuriakose Bharanikulangara.)

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1 thought on “Include prayers for president and prime minister in Mass

  1. Dear brs+srs,
    I find prayers for our leaders and nation, sometimes specific Organizations and Institutions, included as part of the “Prayer of the faithful” especially during Sunday Mass, when most families are able to attend the Holy Eucharist in large numbers, Na? So also, several priests who make the weekly/regular/daily Holy Eucharist truly involving for the faithful do include intentions relevant to a particular social/political/environmental situation either during the introduction or even post Consecration prayer, is it not? ThankU God! 🙂

    We are also familiar with family prayer or prayer meetings proceedings, where-in it is ‘normal’ for leaders/organizers to initiate a flow of intentions, covering those relevant to the people gathered, so that the objective of such a prayer gathering is fulfilled, as in, MUCH PRAYERS ARE OFFERED FOR ALL AS PER COMMON NEEDS etc… Now, IF some Bishops/Church Leaders make it a point to make similar ‘shepherding notes’ known a bit more wider / public, then maybe, it kind of also lifts up specifics of where such prayers are ABSENT (unfortunately!)… The awesomeness of what we share may then be pushed back some place or under the carpet, while the lack / differences may be magnified or forced ahead even to the point of making the whole prayer seem incomplete or unworthy, which it is NOT anyways…

    To imagine a Holy Eucharist, WITHOUT involving the people and leaders of our nation, community, homes and families, will also mean that we are NOT ENABLING very well, the channels of divine graces to touch every corner of our nation and people, when we offer the most invaluable prayer – The Holy Eucharist… Is this true? Honest? NO!

    Must we encourage confusion to enter into our prayers? 🙂 On the other hand, let us continue to ensure what is already prime and visible in our worship – LOVE for God and for one another, flowing out full and generous, each time we stand before God in prayer…

    Much prayers continue for everyone,
    With love in Christ Jesus,
    Pari

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