Here is an interesting question for everyone.
I am a seminarian spending the summer doing Army Chaplain training.
One of the debated topics here at the Army Chaplain School is how specifically Christian prayer should be in some public contexts. There are a number of situations in the Army, such as changes of command, that are mandatory attendance for every member of a unit. Usually a chaplain will be asked to say a prayer at these events. Chaplains are often requested not to pray in Christ’s name, which of course also includes Trinitarian formulas that us Catholics usually use.
A chaplain cannot be ordered to not pray in Christ’s name but it might mean that they are no longer asked to pray at these events, or that no chaplains are asked to pray at them, and it might have a negative impact on how some officers, including some other chaplains might view the chaplain in question. The pressure to offer prayers that are not explicitly Christian does not extend to more explicitly religious situations. A Christian chaplain is not going to be asked to lead a Sunday service to a creator God without mentioning Jesus.
Some denominations, like the Missouri Synod Lutherans and some Baptists, have official statements that there chaplains are to only offer explicitly Christian public prayer. I know there is no such official policy for Catholic chaplains.
I personally feel that I could never say a prayer in any situation that was not explicitly Christian. Concluding a prayer with “in your name we pray, Amen” just seems silly to me. It seems to be asking Christian chaplains to occasionally submit to a functional deism or bare-bones monotheism which ignores the revelation of God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
Frankly if Christ does not bring me into a relationship with God the Father through the working of the Holy Spirit than I’m no good to anyone, including any soldiers I am called to serve as a chaplain. It does not seem reasonable to expect me to pray in a manner which does not reflect this. So whats the consensus here? Am I on track or am I being too much of a pain in the butt?
Joliet Diocese Seminarian
"Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever."