When tasked with giving the invocation at President Joe Biden’s inauguration, the Rev. Leo J. O’Donovan — the former president of Georgetown University and a longtime Biden friend — opened his prayer with an admission that the United States was in a time of need, praying:
…we come before you in need – indeed on our knees. But we come still more with hope, and with our eyes raised anew to the vision of a “more perfect union” in our land, a union of all our citizens to “promote the general welfare and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity.”
O’Donovan’s prayer acknowledged that the United States is a diverse country made up of people of many races, creeds and cultural backgrounds. The prayer included a line of repentance for the times when the country failed to live up to its founding principles for all of those backgrounds.
Today, we confess our past failures to live according to our vision of equality, inclusion and freedom for all. Yet we resolutely commit still now to renewing the vision, to caring for one other in word and deed, especially the least fortunate among us, and so becoming light for the world.
As he ended the prayer, the priest asked God to give the new President wisdom.
For our new president, we beg of you the wisdom Solomon sought when he knelt before you and prayed for “an understanding heart so that I can govern your people and know the difference between right and wrong.” We trust in the counsel of the Letter of James: “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.”
Read the entire prayer here.