Q: Is it proper to pray for the President of the United by name in the General Intercessions or in the collect “For the Head of State”? Each time I have done so on Inauguration Day, someone has strenuously objected that Catholics do not do that. While I come from a Protestant tradition that did so regularly and I recognize that what sounds ordinary to me may not sound that way to others, I suspect the objection may be sour grapes from someone who does not want to be reminded that his or her candidate lost the election. On the other hand, after almost twenty years I am still learning how to be Catholic. On Inauguration Day it seems appropriate to pray for the new president by name instead of using more generic terms. What do you think?
A: Call the president by name. That’s what those prayers are for.
Here in Kansas City, the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art has in its collection a missal from Venice–I think it’s 17th century. In the Roman Canon the priest prayed for the pope, the bishop and the king by name—right within the canon.
It may sound odd to some people, but we should pray for our president by name. I use the Mass For the Head of State on days such as Inauguration Day and Presidents’ Day each year, and I name the president in the collect.