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What is a Litany Prayer?

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litany-treeA Litany is a series of brief prayers for help, and/or praise, with a fixed response such as – “Lord Have Mercy on Us”

The name Litany is from the Greek Word ‘litaneia’ which means a series of short prayers.

Throughout the centuries this traditional prayer has been prayed in public and in private for the spiritual needs of a family, parish or country. Litanies are prayed in public processions on rogation or prayer days, to ask for God’s help for the needs of the community.

The Litany prayers of the Saints are prayed at Easter, and those of Mary the Mother of God are prayed at her celebrated Feasts.

Litanies are also prayed in the Daily Liturgy and the Prayer of the Church in many different ways.
We see a similar asking and response pattern in the following examples:

• The response prayer to the Psalms
• The prayers of petition in the “Prayer of the Faithful”
• The “Lord Have Mercy” and “Holy, Holy, Holy”
• “Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world” prayers
• The response of, “forgive us our sins and grant us peace”
• The best known in the Daily Liturgy is the Litany
“Christ have mercy on us, Lord have mercy on us.
Christ have mercy on us, Lord have mercy on us.”


The people gathered to repeat the responses.

The riches of these prayers were evident in a society where the general population had little access to the Bible or were not able to read or write. The Leader proclaimed a Litany of Jesus’ Titles and the faithful responded with “Have Mercy on us.”

Each title signifies a truth and proclaims a promised blessing that is available for all believers, through Christ’s Life, Death and Resurrection.

Many blessings flow from a Litany prayer. Today the Holy Spirit is inspiring many people to pray a particular Litany to receive the Grace for Healing and Deliverance.

Praying a Litany under the guidance of the Holy Spirit introduces us to the Power of God’s Word that will set us free from being captive to sinful ways and restores us to wholeness.

Litanies are precious Prayer Jewels, if we desire to grow in faith and God’s Love. They help us pray for healing even when we do not know how to pray. They are God’s secret weapons of Grace that will rescue you from harm and empower you to become the person God meant you to be.
Do read the Q&A Why Pray a Litany and visit the Prayer Ministry Tab How to pray a Litany. Also visit the Q&A Tab What are Catholic Prayer Devotions.