Monday, October 3, 2011

The Great Litany- series on the Divine Liturgy

We continue with thoughts on the Divine Liturgy of St John Chrysostom with the Great Litany, the beginning of the Liturgy where the priest is in dialog with the people:

Priest or Deacon: Blessed is the kingdom of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, now and always and forever and ever.
Choir (all people are encouraged to sing 'choir' parts): Amen.
P: In peace let us pray to the Lord.
C: Lord, have mercy.
P: For peace from on high and for the salvation of our souls, let us pray to the Lord.
C: Lord, have mercy.
P: For the peace of the whole world, for the welfare of all the holy churches of God, and for the union of all, let us pray to the Lord.
C: Lord, have mercy.
P: For this holy house and for those who with faith and reverence and in the fear of God enter it. let us pray to the Lord.
C: Lord, have mercy.
P: For our Most Blessed Father Pope Benedict, for our Beatitude and Archbishop (N.) for our God-loving Bishop (N.) for the honored priesthood, the diaconate in Christ and for all the clergy and the people, let us pray to the Lord.
C: Lord, have mercy.
P. For this country, its president and government and for the armed forces and all who are in authority, let us pray to the Lord.
C: Lord, have mercy.
P. For this city, for all the cities and villages, and for all who in faith dwell therein, let us pray to the Lord.
C: Lord, have mercy.
P: For good weather, an abundance of the fruits of the earth, and for peaceful times, let us pray to the Lord.
C: Lord, have mercy.
P: For those who travel, for those who are sick, for those who suffer and those in prison and for their salvation, let us pray to the Lord.
C: Lord, have mercy.
P: That we may be delivered from all distress, wrath, tribulation and want- Preserve, help and have mercy on us, O God, by Your grace.
C: Lord, have mercy.
P. Commemorating our most holy, pure, blessed and glorious Lady, the Mother of God and ever Virgin Mary, (C; Most holy Mother of God, save us) together with all the Saints, let us commend ourselves and each other and our entire lives to Christ, our God.
C: To you, O Lord.
Priest: For to you is due all glory, honor, and adoration, to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, now and always and forever and ever.
C: Amen.

You can see that the 'default' response of the people is "Lord, have mercy." We are asking for God's love and mercy on the petition. All bases are covered- from the obvious of praying for our hierarchy to the surprise of praying for those in prison. We pray for everyone, but especially for those who need it, either because they have no one to pray for them or they are in positions of authority. We pray for the President and the armed forces not because we are enamored of them. We pray for them because they have massive responsibilities over others. 

Much like the 'Jesus Prayer,' the litanies in the Divine Liturgy can be considered a meditation with the 'Lord Have Mercy' being a time to breathe out. For some, the repetition of a liturgical form can be dry and boring- but if one really reflects on the words, it can be very meaningful and one can still be learning at an old age. 

"That we may be delivered from all distress, wrath, tribulation and want- Preserve, help and have mercy on us, O God, by Your grace" is a line that resonates with me. Distress, wrath, tribulation and want will always be with us to some extent here on earth, but we pray that God will preserve us from the day to day realities of a sinful world. God desires us to be free of distress and anxiety- hence the name of my little blog- Fear not, little flock.

For a theological reflection of this portion of the Liturgy, click here for a perspective from a Ruthenian Byzantine Catholic priest. Here is another reflection. This page is very interesting, linking all the words of the Liturgy with the Bible. It is from an Orthodox perspective as many evangelicals have been converting to the Orthodox faith.

3 comments:

  1. My little 2 1/2 year old can be heard often these days singing 'Lord have mercy' while playing or riding in the car. I wish I could type out the way she says it - it is just too adorable and obviously melts my heart. I like to think God is smiling down as well.

    I love this part of liturgy and do not find it dry or boring in the least. It is a beautiful prayer sung in 'measured melody' to God. It is so good that we pray for everyone like this especially since I so often fail to remember all in my daily personal prayers :/

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  2. This is my FAVORITE part of the liturgy. (Ours is almost 100% identical to yours. ) I love how it brings everyone together; the rhythm and repetition is rather "centering," and like you said, meditational.

    I love how you wrote this: "All bases are covered- from the obvious of praying for our hierarchy to the surprise of praying for those in prison. We pray for everyone, but especially for those who need it, either because they have no one to pray for them or they are in positions of authority. We pray for the President and the armed forces not because we are enamored of them. We pray for them because they have massive responsibilities over others."
    That's exactly how I feel.

    And like Kayleen wrote about her little one, the kids in our church chant along. I think they like it because it's easy to remember (kids love repetition!) and they feel as if they are partaking in liturgy (I started typing "mass!") just as the adults do.

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  3. I never get tired of the repetition. (and I'm Latin rite!) God bless the Byzantines!! -F

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