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Praying for the Nation

Our group with Mr. Joe Cella and his daughter.

Six of us set out early on a misty, foggy D.C. morning, tickets in hand, to attend the National Prayer Service for the 58th Presidential Inauguration. We were honored to receive an invitation to this event by Mr. Joseph Cella, founder of the National Catholic Prayer Breakfast and chief liaison for Catholic Affairs to the Trump campaign.

Concerned that we might run into roadblocks due to yesterday’s ceremonies or today’s March on Washington, we left at 6:30 a.m. for the 10:00 a.m. service and then arrived so early that we took the police by surprise and were mistaken for choir members as we drove through the back entrance that our GPS directed us to.

We took our places at the head of the security line and quickly met up with Mr. and Mrs. Steve Green, president of Hobby Lobby (like us the Greens have been represented by the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty.) For those not familiar with Washington, the National Cathedral is the cathedral of the Episcopal diocese of Washington, and aspires to serve as “a house of prayer for all people and a spiritual home for the nation” (https://cathedral.org).

Our long wait for the service to begin was well spent as we met and conversed with many interesting and dynamic people, including some of the nominees for President Trump’s Cabinet, representatives of various religious faiths and Greta Van Susteren, formerly of Fox News and now of MSNBC.

Although we never got more than a glimpse of the back of our new President’s head, this did nothing to diminish our appreciation of the beautiful and inspiring hymns performed by various choirs and talented soloists, intercessory prayers, readings from a wide variety of spiritual sources and the sheer beauty of the Cathedral. The most moving moment was the singing of How Great Thou Art by Marlana Van Hoose, a young blind, disabled woman from Kentucky. At the conclusion of her performance our new First Lady was the first to rise and give Ms. Van Hoose a standing ovation. The media later reported that Melania Trump was moved to tears by the performance (view here)!

The congregation’s rousing singing of America the Beautiful was also quite moving. The prayer service concluded with the traditional hymn, Great Is Thy Faithfulness, which reminded us that the future of our Nation is in God’s faithful, provident hands. We were deeply touched by our experience and, at the same time, so pleased to have been given the honor of joining in this historic moment of prayer for our Nation as Donald J. Trump begins his presidency.

The prayer service can be viewed in its entirety here or here.