- The Washington Times - Friday, September 27, 2013

With a government shutdown looming and all sides digging in, the men of the cloth are weighing in, with the Senate chaplain delivering a stinging rebuke Friday morning of the shutdown showdown playing out in Congress.

“Lord, deliver us from governing by crisis, empowering us to be responsible stewards of your bounty, using judicious compromise for the mutual progress of all,” Chaplain Barry C. Black prayed as he opened the Senate session Friday morning, hours ahead of several key votes that will determine whether the chamber can pass a spending bill to keep the government open beyond next Monday.

Meanwhile, over in the House, Chaplain Patrick J. Conroy, a Jesuit priest, sat in on a key committee meeting Thursday night, prompting Rules Committee Chairman Pete Sessions to say he hoped they would benefit from the “divine” aid.


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House Republicans and Senate Democrats are at odds over how to fund the government in fiscal year 2014, which begins Tuesday. If Congress doesn’t pass a bill, much of the government’s basic operations will have to shut down.

Republicans have insisted that they must attach conditions to any funding bill — and in particularly hope to halt all or part of President Obama’s health care law. But Democrats have insisted on what they call a “clean” funding bill that doesn’t contain any conditions.

With no middle ground to be found, a shutdown is increasingly likely.


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Mr. Black, a former Navy rear admiral who has been Senate chaplain for a decade, occasionally tailors his prayers to the issues of the day.

Friday’s prayer was particularly timely, calling on God to “keep us from shackling ourselves with the chains of dysfunction.”

“Use our senators today to serve your purposes for this generation, making them ever-mindful of their accountability to you,” he prayed.

Father Conroy, opening the House session, was less pointed but still seemed to be cognizant of the weighty decisions hanging over Congress.

He prayed that lawmakers “show respect for those with whom they disagree.”

“May their actions in these coming days prove to be of heroic importance and benefit to our nation and its people,” he concluded.

Chaplain Barry C. Black’s whole prayer:

Let us pray.

Holy God, you created us for freedom, so keep us from shackling ourselves with the chains of dysfunction. Use our senators today to serve your purposes for this generation, making them ever-mindful of their accountability to you.

Lord, deliver us from governing by crisis, empowering us to be responsible stewards of your bounty, using judicious compromise for the mutual progress of all. Provide this land we love with your gracious protection, and may we never cease to be grateful for the numberless blessings we receive each day from your hands.

We pray, in your merciful name, Amen.

Chaplain Patrick J. Conroy’s whole prayer:

Let us pray.

Eternal God we give you thanks for giving us another day. We pause in your presence and ask guidance for the men and woman of the people’s house. Enable them, oh God, to act on what they believe to be right and true and just, and to do so in ways that show respect for those with whom they disagree. May their actions in these coming days prove to be of heroic importance and benefit to our nation and its people.

Bless us this day and every day, and may all that is done be for your greater honor and glory, Amen.