Friday, February 25, 2011


There was a time that I found litanies of any kind painfully BOARING. The mere thought of a litany coming up was enough to send me into desires of being hit by a brick in the head and sent into a coma.

Things change.

First – what is a litany? It is a prayer, usually rather loooooong, in a sort of call and response fashion such as in, “St. Sebastian . . . R pray for us.” There are all kinds of litanies. There are various litanies for God and His various persons (Holy Spirit, Child Jesus . . .) and of the Eucharist, litanies for the Blessed Virgin Mary, angels and saints, and various needs and petitions such as for a happy death, souls in purgatory, humility, priests, peace, etc. . . There are also litanies recalling various promises of God and the saints and such.

That being said the reason that a litany can seem painful is because it is a prayer of someone head over heels in love. If you are not in love or wanting to be in love, like a high fructose corn syrup – sappy – date night romance movie, it can be very painful to endure. A litany is what lovers do. “What do I love about you? Your beautiful eyes, your sunny personality, the way walk, the way you talk. You are my sunshine, the song in my heart, the beat of my heart blah blah blah . . .” It can also take the beloved and break what is lovely about them into their constituent parts. “What is great about the Parish of Saint Sebastian? Jennifer, Tim, Cathy, Ed, Lynn, Aaron, so forth and so on.” And all the time we are asking them to remember us also. We tell them beloved (God, saints) that we trust them, rely on them, look up to them when we place our trust in the them to take our hearts to God.

The first time litanies started making true sense to me was at my ordination. We were laying prostrate on the floor while the congregation sang the Litany of the Saints. The saints became real and personal to me. It was if they were there. It clicked to me that they really were my family. They might as well have been singing, "Mom, Dad, Mickie, Lori, Don, Aunt O, Uncle Paul . . ."The names of the those whom I knew stuck out and I thought, “I know this guy,” and it was if they were truly there. It was quite exciting.

Now, I still need to be in a mood for a litany. But when I am they are so moving. More recently I have started becoming particular friends with St. Sebastian. I did not pay much attention to him before I came to this parish and my idea of him was really of a comic book fashion. “He’s the guy shot with arrows.” But after studying him and praying with him I’ve grown quite fond of him. Here is a litany of St. Sebastian (they are not all that common.)


Lord, have mercy on us!
Christ, have mercy on us!
Lord, have mercy on us! Christ hear us!
Christ, 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 on us!
Holy Trinity, one God,
Have mercy on us!

Holy Mary, Queen of Martyrs, Pray for us.
Saint Sebastian, Pray for us.
Invincible Martyr, Pray for us.
Knight, noble by birth and fame, Pray for us.
Glorious warrior and martyr of Christ, Pray for us.
Patron and mirror of Christian soldiers, Pray for us.
Despiser of the world, Pray for us.
Conqueror of Satan, Pray for us. Comfort of the dying, Pray for us. Consoler of the afflicted, Pray for us.
Announcer of the word of God, Pray for us.
Protector and Patron of countries and cities, Pray for us.
Saint Sebastian, perfect in virtue and wisdom, Pray for us.
St. Sebastian, lover of God and men, Pray for us.
St. Sebastian, might in word and work, Pray for us.
St. Sebastian, who didst strengthen the Christians in torments and death, Pray for us.
St. Sebastian, who didst fortify those wavering in their faith,
Pray for us.
St. Sebastian, who didst encourage the doubting to persevere to the end, Pray for us.
St. Sebastian, who, in flamed with love of God, didst despise the pains inflicted by the tyrant, Pray for us.
St. Sebastian, surrounded by celestial light, Pray for us.
St. Sebastian, instructed by the holy Angels, Pray for us.
St. Sebastian, giving speech to the dumb, Pray for us.
St. Sebastian, who for defending the truth wast wounded by arrows,
Pray for us.
St. Sebastian, who wast put to death with clubs, Pray for us.
St. Sebastian, who wast crowned with eternal glory, Pray for us.
St. Sebastian, great intercessor for us with God, Pray for us.
St. Sebastian, endowed with power from God to avert pestilence and all contagious diseases, Pray for us.

Lamb of God, Who takest away the sins of the world:
Spare us, O Lord!
Lamb of God, Who takest away the sins of the world:
Graciously hear us, O Lord!
Lamb of God, Who takest away the sins of the world:
Have mercy on us, O Lord!
Christ, hear us!
Christ, graciously hear us!

Let us pray. Mercifully look on our weakness, O almighty God;
since the weight of our own evil deeds bears us down, may the glorious intercession of Thy blessed martyr Sebastian be our protection
Through our Lord Jesus Christ Thy Son, Who with Thee and the Holy Ghost liveth and reigneth, one God, world without end.
R. Amen.


lgreen515 said...

I love litanies. St. Sebastian is special to me too, so thank you for printing his litany here.

Melody said...

Thank you! That makes so much sense and makes me appreciate litanies.

Robert M Kraus Sr said...

I like litanies. The St Sebastian litany which you composed is very good. I printed it and will keep it ,and say it. I marvel at the number of attributes which you included.


Anonymous said...

I also like litanies--I like the repitition, as in the rosary--you can almost get a spiritual high from these recitations--and to acknowledge and call upon our saints to pray for is so Catholic and powerful--with great fondness I remember the 'ora pro nobis' and 'orate pro nobis' responses during Holy Week (and Forty Hours?)at the Church of the Annunciation.
About 8 St. Sebastian music ministers will perform a Litany of Lareto this coming April 10 @ 3pm as part of a Master Singers concert to be given at the gorgeous Shrine Church of St. Stanislaus in Cleveland. Thank you, Father, for bringing up a long-neglected devotional.

Anonymous said...

litanies--oh my lord---our resident composer in master wrote a litany for the choir to sing--the litany was to have its world premier at the gorgeous church,ST. STanislaus in cleveland, ohio--i DISTICTLY remember our first rehearsal (i put distinctly in all caps because these days i remember basically nothing--but thats another story)--back to the story--i was bored to death--goo0d God what was this composer thinking ?????every gruesome rehearsal i wanted to slit my wrists--but i had just converted to Catholisism--so that nixed that--didn't like the consequences--by the grace of our good God the rehearsals finally came to an end, and we found ourselves at the dress rehearsal---we have only one rehearsal when most of the parts of the composition are put together---in this case the totally complete work did not appear until the day of performance---who was missing in the dress rehearsal?-----hint--at st. STanislaus--there are fabulus ARTISTIC representations of many Saints---however, the majority of the renderings line the sides of the CENTER aisle---the piece began---softly, simply--like only a litany can be--with each repetition the piece became more layered--more, voices--more vocal parts, more instrumentaion; organ, bells, a single vocal chanter in balcony,--finally more bells that grew louder and louder, glorious bells along with louder voices, louder organ, louder chanting from the balcony,and finally a cacaphony of sound that drew all performers to a higher place and graced this one lowly singer with seeing the Saints literally moving--no longer stationary in their designated spots---what a wonderous sight to behold--just because of one little old BORING litany----p.s. the church so loved the performance they play a recording of it before the eleven am sunday morning Mass all the time--that performance was several years ago--master singers will return to ST. STAN's this April 10,sun at 3 p.m.--the church has frequently asked the choir to repeat this piece--finally the choir is honoring this request--will the SAINTS move again???p.s.s.the first rehearsal of this piece drew an interesting comment from the sop. section---Oh my God, this is the most BORING piece we've ever done, when i heard this i just smiled and thought to myself--right on track--get ready SAINTS we're a-comin

Fr. V said...


Thanks but I didn't write it. I just found it and published it here because even in my "BIG BOOK OF LITANIES" could not find one for St. Sebastian.

Thanks for saving the confirmation class on Friday night!

God bless