Invocation by Archbishop Patrick O’Boyle for 1963 March on Washington

Archbishop O'Boyle gives the invocation at the 1963 March on Washington

(The following is the text of the invocation given by Washington Archbishop Patrick O’Boyle at the Lincoln Memorial on Aug. 28, 1963 for the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.)

Our Father, Who art in heaven, we who are assembled here in a spirit of peace and in good faith dedicate ourselves and our hopes to You. We ask the fullness of your blessing upon those who have gathered with us today, and upon all men and women of good will to whom the cause of justice and equality is sacred. We ask this blessing because we are convinced that in honoring all Your children, we show forth in our lives the love that You have given us.

Bless this nation and all its people. May the warmth of Your love replace the coldness that springs from prejudice and bitterness. Send in our midst the Holy Spirit to open the eyes of all to the great truth that all men are equal in Your sight. Let us understand that simple justice demands that the rights of all be honored by every man.

Crowd at the 1963 March on WashingtonGive strength and wisdom to our President and Vice President. Enlighten and guide the Congress of these United States. May our judges in every court  be heralds of justice and equity. Let just laws be administered without discrimination. See to it, we implore, that no man be so powerful as to be above the law, or so weak as to be deprived of its full protection.

We ask special blessings for those men and women  who in sincerity and honesty have been leaders in the struggle for justice and harmony among races. As Moses of old, they have gone before their people to a land of promise. Let that promise quickly become a reality, so that the ideals of freedom, blessed alike by our religious faith and our heritage of democracy, will prevail in our land.

Finally, we ask that You consecrate to Your service all who in this crusade are dedicated to the principles of the Constitution of these United States. May we be sensitive to our duties toward others as we demand from them our rights. May we move forward without bitterness, even when confronted with prejudice and discrimination. May we shun violence, knowing that the meek shall inherit the earth. But may this meekness of manner be joined with courage and strength so that with Your help, O heavenly Father, and following the teachings of Christ, Your Son, we shall now and in the days to come live together as brothers in dignity, justice, charity and peace.

Lincoln Memorial during the March on WashingtonPhotos courtesy of the Catholic Standard