Get to Know God Through the Litanies

I love the Easter Vigil Mass. From the lighting of the Easter candle outside of the church, to the thrill of watching as new members are baptized and welcomed into the Church, the vigil is a beautiful experience that celebrates the profound truth of Salvation history, ending in our Lord’s Resurrection. When the lights come up during the singing of the Gloria, which we haven’t heard since the beginning of Lent, it gives me chills, every time. At one point, the cantor chants the Litany of the Saints, and we respond with pray for us. Other than that, I haven’t had much to do with litanies.

A litany is a series of petitions.  This can simply be names, or it can be a name followed by further description.  Mary, conceived without sin,….   We follow the petition with one of several responses. If the litany is to Mary or the Saints, we say pray for us. If it’s to Jesus, we often say have mercy on us.  Sometimes the series can be, um, boring. At least that’s how I used to look at it.

Then I began a devotion to the Holy Face of Jesus.

Six days a week, I pray certain prayers, and on the seventh, the Lord’s Day, I include the Litany to the Holy Face of Jesus. I’ll admit that my initial response on seeing a long list of reflections on the life of Jesus , each one followed by have mercy on us, was a tortured sigh. It was a long list.

The first time I prayed it, I was more concerned with making it through, but the second time, I forced myself to slow down and reflect, really reflect on what I was saying.

O adorable Face, which was bathed in tears in Thy holy infancy… 

O adorable Face, scorched with the heat of the sun and bathed with sweat in Thy journeys…

 O adorable Face which wept and was troubled at the tomb of Lazarus… 

 O adorable Face, which was all resplendent with glory and beauty on the day of the Resurrection…

I began to see the tears on the face of the baby Jesus. It seems odd that I never thought about how, as an infant, He would have cried, pooped and gurgled. That as an adult, He had to walk on His journeys, and he would have gotten sweaty, tired, and sunburned.  That He loved His friend Lazarus and would have experienced that same pain of loss that I have when a loved one has died. That the glory of the Resurrection would have been reflected through Him. That He probably smiled a lot.

By meditating not the Litany, Human Jesus becomes more real to me. The images from the Stations of the Cross come to life, and I am more awed than ever by the sacrifices that Divine Jesus made when he became one of us.

I’ve been doing the same thing with a litany to our Blessed Mother, contemplating the meaning behind each of her titles and how it related to her role as the Mother of our Savior.

At first glance, litanies can seem boring, but as with any prayer, if you delve into them with the intention of growing closer to God, you will find an unexpected depth that is worth mining.

© Jacqueline Vick, 2016

Jacqueline Vick

Jacqueline Vick

Jacqueline Vick is a devout Catholic, wife to a wonderful guy, pet parent to a troubled mutt, and mystery writer. Her website is

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