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Capitol Building at dusk, Fourth of July 2014; National Shrine awaiting Mass with Pope Francis and the Canonization of Junipero Serra , September 2015.

The Federal City, Washington, DC, has two great domes: the dome of the Capitol Building (Thomas Ustick Walter’s a one-third scale representation of St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome) and the dome of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception (Charles D. Maginnis and Eugene F. Kennedy Jr.).

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Talking with families while waiting to see Pope Francis at the Capitol Building, September 2015.

On this election day 2016 the world turns to see which political powers will fill the halls of the Capitol Building and the White House over the next four years.

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Approaching the Capitol Building from the West during the annual March for Life.

It is a difficult time for our whole nation, and so as Catholics we must tend to the matters of our nation at the dome downtown, but also we should not forget our nation at the Shrine of Our Lady over in Northeast.  We must pray for our country and contribute to her good, and asking for Mary’s intercession is part of that.  For, what Guadalupe is to Mexicans, and Częstochowa is to Poles, so too should the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception be for Catholic Americans.  We too can be patriotic and Marian!  We need to be patriotic and Marian!

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While everything looks the same from outside, major work is actually going on inside “Mary’s House”, our National Shrine in Washington, DC.  The last major installation of art is about to begin: the Trinity Dome mosaic under the central dome.  Surrounding the Blessed Trinity will be a ring of 18 saints,  both of earlier times and of our most recent era.  Slow and arduous work will be taking place high above the crossing so as to complete the last stage of the National Shrine.

Like the saints to be depicted in the dome, may we too live heroic lives full of faith, hope and charity so as to be lights in our world and instruments of peace in our country.