It’s a Friday in Lent. If you haven’t already, you probably should go back and pray the Great Litany today. Lent is, after all, a season of heightened spiritual discipline, especially in the areas of fasting, alms-giving, and prayer, as we were reminded on Ash Wednesday, and praying the Litany is probably one of the basic-but-important ways we can fulfill the latter discipline.
Besides, in historic prayer books, the Litany was appointed to be said at the end of Morning Prayer on every Sunday, Wednesday, and Friday, regardless of the liturgical season. So the least we can do is pick it up during Lent if we normally neglect it.
An interesting feature of the Great Litany’s structure, which perhaps originated in the 1979 book, is the separating of its ending (the “Supplication”) into an optional section. Classical Prayer Books were much simpler, the Litany was one distinct string of prayers to be used wholesale. The modern distinction of the Supplication in its final section is handy if you want to shorten the Litany a little bit, or evade its particularly “grim” tone toward the end. It also means that we can draw upon the Supplication portion by itself as an extra devotion “in times of trouble or distress” as the rubrics suggest.
But for Fridays in Lent, we probably should just pray the whole thing and not cut any corners.
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