After what he called a "contentious” week, House Chaplain the Rev. Patrick J. Conroy felt compelled to expel what appeared to be “darker spirits” at play in the chamber with a special prayer Thursday morning.
"This has been a difficult and contentious week in which darker spirits seem to have been at play in the people's house," Conroy, a Jesuit priest, said in a clip of the prayer shared by CSPAN.
That difficulty was reflected in a rift among House members over controversial tweets from President Donald Trump using language identified as a racist trope to tell four freshman congresswomen of color that they should “go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came" and "then come back and show us how it is done" rather than “loudly and viciously telling the people of the United States” how to run the government.
The House voted Tuesday to condemn Trump’s tweet as racist after a bitter and partisan brawl.
Acknowledging that the situation now needed God’s intervention to tackle the work of what he sensed was created by “spirits of darkness” Conroy went on the spiritual attack with a prayer that was reminiscent of a former version of the Catholic rite of exorcism.
"In Your most holy name, I now cast out all spirits of darkness from this chamber, spirits not from You. I cast out the spirit of discouragement which deadens the hope of those who are of goodwill. I cast out the spirit of petty divisiveness, which clouds the sense and desires to be of fruitful productivity in addressing the issues more appropriately before this House,” he prayed with lifted hands.
"I cast out any sadness brought on by the frustration of dealing with matters detrimental to the honorable work each member has been called to engage in," he continued. "Pour out O Lord Your sacred oil as You did upon Aaron of old. Anoint Your servants here in the House with a healing balm to comfort and renew the souls of all in this assembly."
He further prayed that God’s “Spirit of wisdom and patience be sent upon all so that any spirit of darkness might have no place in our midst. Rather, let Your Spirit of comity, of brother and sisterhood, and love of our nation, and of all colleagues in this chamber, empower our better angels to be at play in the common work to be done for the benefit of all of Your people."
In an interview with CNN, Conroy explained that as he observed the political situation this week he got the sense that darker spirits were at work.
"I was on the House floor on Tuesday," Conroy told CNN, "and to me, it felt different than other days. It felt like there was something going on beyond just political.”
He noted that "if you are a person of faith, ultimately everything in our lives, our communities and our culture is a battle between darker spirits and our better angels."