Patton’s Weather Prayer

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“Almighty and most merciful Father, we humbly beseech Thee, of Thy great goodness, to restrain these immoderate rains with which we have had to contend. Grant us fair weather for Battle. Graciously hearken to us as soldiers who call upon Thee that, armed with Thy power, we may advance from victory to victory, and crush the oppression and wickedness of our enemies and establish Thy justice among men and nations.”

The famous “weather prayer” of General Patton was written by a Catholic Chaplain, Colonel James H. O’Neill.  Here is his article on the incident written in 1950.  Go here to view the famous weather prayer sequence from the film Patton.

Patton was an interesting mixture of contradictions in his spiritual life.  Foul mouthed even by the standards of an army known for profanity, and much too fond of war for a Christian, he also read the Bible and prayed each day.  A firm Episcopalian, yet he also firmly believed in reincarnation.    While in command in Sicily he began attending mass, initially largely for political reasons to build a bridge to the Catholic population, but then found that he enjoyed worshipping at mass.

Some may view a prayer for success in a war as blasphemous.  The troops that saw what General Patton saw at Ohrdruf would no doubt respectfully disagree as to the war they fought in.

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  1. Warfare is Spiritual as well as earthly. When we look at WWII especially, the lines are very clear as to what was right and what was wrong. Without spiritual guidance, men lose their consciences, without conscience, atrocities will occur un-abated and un-punished. As a combat veteran of Iraq, even if you disagree with Iraq, one can see the good that can come from that war when they are involved over in Iraq. My chaplain was staunchly opposed to the war in Iraq, and yet he did his job and took care of the people as best he could. He also pointed out that the military is best manned by men and women of faith.

    There is also an old saying that rings true: “There are no atheists in foxholes” and I never met an atheist while I was in the military, not once (the ones that said they were all were agnostics who believed in “some higher power”).

    If prayer for success in war is blasphemous, there are a lot of Old Testament figures, and lots of Saints, who have committed said blasphemy. I find the idea of prayer for success on the battle field as blasphemy to be grounded in nothing Biblical (or Jesus would have told the Centurion who’s servant He healed to quit the Roman Army no matter the consequence).

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