Did you pray for President Donald J. Trump today?

I ask this because everywhere I go, people seem to be constantly talking about the new president. People are outraged, people are stunned, people are excited, people are hopeful. Sometimes we are talking in the sacristies or backs of churches. Meanwhile, how many of us are praying?

In fact, in the “Faithful Citizenship,” the document giving guidelines for voting and political participating, the U.S. Catholic bishops specifically call for fasting and prayer. Great idea. And yet, how many of us did that with some dedication, even radically so, during this past election cycle, which most of us found distressing at one point or another?

We have, to say the very least, an unconventional president in office. That’s clearly why his name is on the tip of tongues in conversation. A businessman, he’s also a reality television star. We’re used to being entertained by him. (That’s part of the story of how he got elected.) Now president of the United States, we owe our country more than that. We owe him, too, more than this.

On the day after he took the presidential oath, I was struck by some of the protest signs people had with them — most of them handmade — on Fifth Avenue in New York City for the so-called March for Women. “Love trumps hate.” “Stop the violence.” “Stop the greed.” (It was actually more often another four-letter word that rhymes with yuck.) One 5-or-so-year-old little girl wore a T-shirt that said “Girls are people, too.” It was at that point that I looked up at the steps outside the side door off Madison Avenue at St. Patrick’s Cathedral and saw Sister Mercy from the Sisters of Life. Mercy!, indeed.

The Sisters of Life had planned an afternoon of prayer inside the cathedral for reparation and healing for the 44th anniversary of the Supreme Court’s Roe vs. Wade decision. It so happened that the protests would pass right by the cathedral. Countless men and women, with “pussy hats” and signs imploring support for Planned Parenthood and keeping laws off uteruses, passed by, often meeting a smile from one of the sisters outside, welcoming people in. (The police had the front, on the avenue, where the march was happening, barricaded, but the side doors were open and an obvious gathering place for those who wanted peace.)

And peace is what the scene outside cried out for. And not only as some declared Trump “Putin’s pet,” for one of the family-friendly versions of the same message. The sheer diversity of signs suggested that if you woke up in New York City that morning and were unhappy — with your life, with the world and certainly with the fact of the inauguration of President Trump, you made yourself a sign and joined a movement. “#Resist” became a haphazard community that Saturday morning. And it seemed to be calling out for something better, and not just a different president. (Impeach signs were scattered throughout, 24 hours after the inauguration.)

The Church just wrapped up a jubilee year of mercy, just as we seem to need it now more than ever. “We need witnesses to hope and true joy if we are to dispel the illusions that promise quick and easy happiness through artificial paradises,” Pope Francis wrote. We had that in New York City with the Sisters of Life holding roses, offering them as people entered the doors of the cathedral.

They were meant to be left at an image of Our Lady of Guadalupe, just a few feet away whichever open door you walked through. Many women in pink hats walked away with them; others did, in fact, leave one for the Blessed Mother. (The sisters would later hand evening Mass-goers a rose to take with them as a reminder of their beauty and dignity, made in the image and likeness of God, and as a reminder to pray for the protection of human life and healing for people hurt by our culture of death.)

Pope Francis continued, in Misericordia Et Misera: “The profound sense of emptiness felt by so many people can be overcome by the hope we bear in our hearts and by the joy that it gives. We need to acknowledge the joy that rises up in a heart touched by mercy.”

He also wrote something that seemed to describe the scene in multiple city streets that January Saturday: “In a culture often dominated by technology, sadness and loneliness appear to be on the rise, not least among young people. The future seems prey to an uncertainty that does not make for stability. This often gives rise to depression, sadness and boredom, which can gradually lead to despair.”

It seemed that the one thing that was keeping some young people from despair that inaugural weekend was this new sense of belonging. You were not alone in despair, but part of a movement, with the new president of the United States as a focal point for your unhappiness.

The invitation — including for many of us who may not have voted for either Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump, or whose conscience guided a choice you weren’t overjoyed to make — seems both to take the work of prayer seriously but to be devoted to showing the world an alternative to everything they are not happy with. The Sisters of Life stood on the steps of the cathedral that day so counterculturally, but also with hands extended, as a bridge. Women and men walked into that cathedral after protesting. There was peace inside that cathedral and a demonstration to those praying inside of the renewed mission we are called to rededicate ourselves to.

The weekend before, I had been at the Chicago Walk for Life, where Gianna Jensen, who survived a saline abortion attempt, leaving her with “the gift of cerebral palsy,” talked about Jesus Christ. Self-aware, she said, people wish she didn’t talk about Jesus so much, but she couldn’t live without him and she doesn’t want anyone not to have the opportunity to know him.

She shares the best she has. But even before I heard her say his name that morning, I noticed her joy and her love and her gratitude. She knows what life is worth — hers, mine, the woman yelling across the street with a vulgar sign — and doesn’t take it for granted. She knows that we’re made for more than we settle for and she dedicates her time to helping people see.

I met her at a fundraiser kicking off the pro-life rally and march benefitting Aid for Women, which supports pregnant women and new mothers with residential programs. A young woman named Tanya held her newborn son in her arms at the rally, giving thanks that she was able to choose to let him be born, her Thanksgiving week gift. Love alone is credible.

And when people see the Catholic Church as having that credibility, as informing public discussions from a position of service, joy-filled service, this will make for better politics, it will lead to help and healing, a recognition that hospitality draws us out of our #Sad state, as one sign put it. The kind healing that happens when we’re not just opposing, but offering. The kind of healing that happens when there’s a warm smile, an open door and a priest waiting to listen in a confessional. Miracles like that happened, the grace-filled stories that didn’t make headlines on that protest day.

As a new presidential administration and the 44th anniversary of the Supreme Court’s abortion decision and clashes on health care and immigration and so much else on the horizon, it’s time for reflection on what more each one of us can do in terms of works of mercy, corporal and spiritual. And remember that fasting and prayer is essential to keeping God’s grace flowing in our lives and the lives of those we love, and those who we welcome, seeing God’s reflection in them.

John Carroll, the first bishop in the U.S., wrote a prayer for our government in 1791. It includes:

“We pray O God of might, wisdom and justice, through whom authority is rightly administered, laws are enacted, and judgment decreed, assist with your Holy Spirit of counsel and fortitude the president of these United States, that his administration may be conducted in righteousness and be eminently useful to your people over whom he presides; by encouraging due respect for virtue and religion; by a faithful execution of the laws in justice and mercy; and by restraining vice and immorality.”

It’s much longer than that — we should all consider Googling it and praying it. Every time you have an opinion about what the president does — whether you worry, applaud, fear, support or otherwise — pray for him and everyone in government. This is part of our call as Christian citizens. This is the work for a future of hope and grace and a journey out of #sad into something greater, in the arms of the actual Savior, Jesus Christ.