My memories of extra-ordinary liturgies are filled with wonder, and, I hate to admit, boredom. One such memory is a contradiction in itself, and that is the litany of saints prayer. Or even the Eucharistic prayer that lists Cletus, Clement, Sixtus, Chrysogonus, Cosmas and Damian. All the names! Some of them I never hear except during the Liturgy.
Name after name after hard-to-pronounce name, and my brain zoned out while prayer kept going. (Who is this Chrysogonus, who earns a place in the Eucharistic Prayer I? I must find out.)
Can you imagine if there was a litany with all the saints’ names? How long would it take to recite or sing nearly 1,000 names?
Now that I’m “older and wiser”…or just older, I appreciate the litany a bit more. We have names recorded of people who loved God so dearly that we also deem them holy examples for our lives. The names stretch through all the centuries! And while not in the Eucharistic prayer, or even the litanies of special liturgies, now we have saints whose names we know from our own lifetimes.
I’d be willing to bet that a large number of us have personal stories about Saint Pope John Paul II. I’ve seen him in person twice. And Saint Teresa of Calcutta? I cried in disbelief when I heard she died.
There are saints we love and hold dear, like friends.
Many of us name our children for saints. We have our personal litany of those whose intercession we seek.
Our family has had a little litany going for a while, during our nightly prayer times. We include our favorites, and once in a while, a saint unique to the intention (Saint Peregrine, as the patron saint of cancer patients, for example).
With All Saints’ Day approaching, and also as a way to keep our list handy and included in our prayer space, I created a family litany. Who would be on your family’s litany?
Custom litanies are available now in my shop! Plan early for All Saints’ Day, or think ahead to Christmas.
p.s.–Saint Chrysogonus is a martyr from around the 5th century.