Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Lousy with litanies

Just got my order from TAN Books, who is in some financial difficulty and is asking that if you've had the urge to order a book or two, now's the time.

I ordered:

- The Three Conversions in the Spiritual Life, by Fr. Garrigou-LaGrange, O.P.
- Trustful Surrender to Divine Providence, by St. Claude De La Colombiere, S.J. and Fr. Jean Pierre de Caussade, S.J.
- A Prayerbook of Favorite Litanies, by Fr. Albert Hebert, S.M.

(The bindings aren't very supple, and the margins are narrow, making the books smaller than normal paperbacks, but you cannot beat the price or the subject matter. And they shipped really fast.)

The Litany book has 116 litanies! I'm looking forward to learning a few more litanies for meditative prayer. For our non-Catholic readers, a litany is a prayer form that at first glance looks like a list. It IS a list, of the particular attributes of God we are pondering. Litanies can also be prayers (NOT worship, everyone calm down) to a particular Saint, or to the Blessed Mother. The list always has two parts, a "call and response" in a way. The response can be said by a second pray-er or a congregation, if the litany is led by an individual.

At Pope John Paul II's funeral, the Litany of the Saints was sung, calling on dozens of saints by name to pray for the soul of the Pope and all of us. "St. Peter, pray for him. St. John the Baptist, pray for him. All you holy saints and martyrs, pray for him....." I was home sick watching the Pope's funeral and surfing around the media coverage, and the lovely repeated "ora pro eum" stopped commentators in their chatter to exclaim over the haunting melody and the concept of a Church confident of unity in prayer between Heaven and earth.

We just celebrated Trinity Sunday, and here's an abridged version of the Litany of the Most Holy Trinity for you:

Antiphon: Blessed be the holy Trinity and undivided Unity: we will give glory to Him, because He hath shown His mercy to us.

V. O Lord our Lord, how wonderful is Thy Name in all the earth!
R. O the depth of the riches of the wisdom and of the knowledge of God!

Lord, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.
Blessed Trinity, hear us.
Adorable Unity, graciously hear us.

God, the Father of heaven, Have mercy on us.
God, the Son, Redeemer of the world, Have mercy on us.
God, the Holy Ghost,Have mercy.... (keep repeating this)
Holy Trinity, one God
Father, from Whom are all things
Son, through Whom are all things
Holy Ghost, in Whom are all things
Holy and undivided Trinity
Father everlasting
Only-begotten Son of the Father
Spirit Who proceedeth from the Father and the Son
Co-eternal Majesty of Three Divine Persons
Father, the Creator
Son, the Redeemer
Holy Ghost, the Comforter
Power infinite
Wisdom incomprehensible
Love unspeakable, Have mercy on us.

Be merciful.
Spare us, O Holy Trinity
Be merciful, O Holy Trinity
Graciously hear us, O Holy Trinity
From all evil, Deliver us, O Holy Trinity.
From all sin, Deliver us, O Holy Trinity.
From all pride, Deliver us....
From all love of riches
From all uncleanness
From all sloth
From all inordinate affection
From all envy and malice
From all anger and impatience, Deliver us, O Holy Trinity
We sinners beseech Thee, hear us.
That we may ever serve Thee alone, We beseech Thee, hear us.
That we may worship Thee in spirit and in truth, We beseech Thee...
That we may love Thee with all our heart, with all our soul, and with all our strength
That, for Thy sake, we may love our neighbor as ourselves
That we may faithfully keep Thy holy commandments
That we may never defile our bodies and souls with sin
That we may go from grace to grace, and from virtue to virtue
That we may finally enjoy the sight of Thee in glory
That Thou wouldst vouchsafe to hear us, We beseech Thee, hear us.
O blessed Trinity, We beseech Thee, deliver us.
O blessed Trinity, We beseech Thee, save us.
O blessed Trinity, Have mercy on us.
Lord, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy. Our Father (silently). Hail, Mary (silently).

V. Blessed art Thou, O Lord, in the firmament of heaven.
R. And worthy to be praised, and glorious, and highly exalted forever.

Let us pray. Almighty and everlasting God, Who hast granted Thy servants in the confession of the true faith, to acknowledge the glory of an Eternal Trinity, and in the power of Thy majesty to adore a Unity: we beseech Thee that by the strength of this faith we may be defended from all adversity. Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Does that seem really long? I chopped some parts out, too. But the point of an organized list like this is that we are nudged away from the "buddy Jesus" mentality. Jesus is LORD, God of all Creation, infinite in power and mercy and justice. We are also nudged to run through how we use or ignore the Grace He gives us. Each repeated response is a separate "You are God!" or "I'm sorry!" with its own tone and meaning.

All the bases are covered in a prayer like this. I'll put others up as the feasts for those saints or aspects of Christ's life come by.


Russell D. James said...

I have always been a lover of litanies and have written a few myself.

Is there a Litany to St. Philip Neri in that book? Tomorrow is his feast day. If so, is it the one by Cardinal Newman?

One of my favorites is still the Litany of Loretto, which takes into effect many of the aspects of Mary that most Catholics love.

I love your blog, by the way.

Russell D. James,M.A.,K.C.
Milton, Florida, USA

Therese Z said...

YES, there is one for St. Philip Neri. No author listed for it, though. The book opened right to it when I was looking at it over lunch, in fact.

I was aware of his feast, but I didn't post it because I thought I'd start slow with one to the Holy Trinity. We have some non-Catholic Christian readers, and saints' litanies have to be examined in light of the glory they give to God. I don't know much about St. Philip Neri, so I didn't feel up to explaining why we litanize saints and this one in particular.

Some of the beautiful titles in the Litany, looking at it now:

Martyr of charity
Heart of fire
Discerner of spirits
Choicest of priests
Mirror of the divine life
Pattern of humility, pray for us.

I stopped at humility because I am a really big fan of the Litany of Humility. Nothing can make me feel so small and wormy so fast. I used it as a Lenten spiritual exercise last year, and I probably should keep it closer to my hand and ego and heart.

That was a great suggestion. And thanks for the love!

justin said...

I just started taking Holy Communion to people unable to attend Mass, and my Dad recommended having a book with the daily Mass readings for anyone who might want that as well. Can you recommend any little book in particular for that?



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