Tuesday, January 6, 2015

The Litany

About a month ago, Grace announced that she wanted to add a litany of saints at the end of bedtime prayers. Well she didn't really say that. She said she wanted to say "St. So-and-So, pray for us." I told her that was called a litany. The children loved the idea and jumped on it. In the past I have had the passing thought of adding a litany to our prayers but had never acted on it.

The first few nights were very fly by the seat of the pants. We had to figure out who to include. It was around St. Nicholas Day so he was a natural. Also Mary, Mother of God, and St. Joseph. Olivia has a St. Rose holy card so she wanted to add her. Grace wanted St. Lucy for the cat. Then they figured out that Marian and Olivia's middle names were covered so that meant everyone's middle name needed added. So at this point we had:

Mary, Mother of God
St. Joseph
St. Nicholas
St. Rose
St. Elizabeth
St. David
St. Lucy

Then Grace wanted to add St. Gabriel. She has always loved St. Gabriel. Loves the Angelus. Really loves the collect for the last Sunday of Advent and has been able to recite it for years. She is not impressed by that. "Of course, everyone knows that prayer." Sure, Grace, if you say so.

But I kept forgetting to add him which means they had an opportunity to jump in. I would begin and then random children would interrupt with whomever they wanted next. The chaos irked me a bit. SSSSHHHH!!!!! I say this part and you say that part! OKAY?!

Sam decided he needed St. Mary. St. Mary as in Mary, Mother of God.

Me: Mary, Mother of God, pray for us
       St. Joseph,
       St. Nicholas,
       St. Rose,

Sam: St. Mary!
Olivia: Sam, we already said that. Mary, Mother of God!
Sam: No! St. Mary!
Olivia: SAM!
Me: It doesn't matter. If Sam wants to say St. Mary, we can say it.
Grace: There's probably another St. Mary anyway.
Sam: No. Jesus's mother!
Olivia: We already said her!

      St Mary, pray for us

Olivia glowers.

Sam: Jesus, pray for us.
Me: Sam, that's not the way it works. You ask Jesus to hear you. Say "Jesus, hear us." I think. I have to look it up.
Grace: I think we should end with "Lord, hear our prayer."
Me: There's actually a right way to do this, but I don't know what it is.
Grace: Well, find out.

I haven't yet. Grace has now decided that she wants to do a "Saint of the Month" where a new saint will be added every month. I'm not clear if the old saint of the month gets rotated out or not. I'm supposed to find out who the most interesting saint in January is and tell them. We can add the person to the litany and maybe find a prayer card.

Here is where we currently stand:

Mary, Mother of God, pray for us
St. Joseph,
St. Nicholas,
St. Rose,
St. Elizabeth,
St. David,
St. Lucy,
St. Mary,
St. Gabriel, 
All ye angels and saints,

This has taken on a life of its own. I am not displeased.


Anonymous said...

Prayer is always a "discussion" with our kids too!

For a long time I've toyed with the idea of a holy card display frame/shrine in which holy cards can be rotated according to the calendar. I haven't found anything like that for sale. If I get a design together, maybe we could make for our St Greg's Pocket gathering?


Melanie Bettinelli said...

This is adorable. I love the chaos and confusion of praying with kids. It's real life messy and so funny. I've been thinking of adding a little litany to our bedtime prayers, but I think it might be too much. When Sophie was a toddler, after she weaned, I had to stay with her and sing until she fell asleep every single night and naptime too. Sometimes I'd sing the litany of saints and throw in every single saint I could think of. And then loop back around and sing it again. And then sing every hymn I could think of. And I'd make up verses of songs.

Right now our nightly kid chaos is twofold: first each kid adds an intention: "For all the people who are sick" is Anthony's standard. Ben always makes up something convoluted on the spot with lots of long pauses while he thinks it up. Last night it was "For all the people who came home and their house was gone." Bella likes to pray for spiritual things like for people who don't know God. Over Christmas we have had a spate of praying for people who don't have Christmas trees and decorations.

The other free form element is saying, "Thank you, God," for something. Anthony always says, "for yummy sky and cookies," which got a laugh the first time and so he must repeat it forever. Lucy has started echoing him. Ben likes to pray thank you for Lucy, Mommy, and Auntie Tree. He almost never thanks God for his big sisters, his little brother, or for Daddy. The most common Thank you, God is for food. Sometimes, though, they can take your breath away at how profound they are.

Jenny said...

That sounds fun.

Jenny said...

Our bedtime prayers used to have a bit more "participation" than they do now. I had to cut it back because, my goodness, I have to go to bed at some point. I had four basic questions I would ask and each child would have a fit if I skipped a question or a child or didn't give said child enough time to answer. The questions are:

What are you saying prayers for? Meaning what are your intentions
What are you sorry for today?
What are you thankful for today?
Who are you saying extra prayers for?

The response "Saying it in my mind" is valid so many nights that is all I would get from any of them. Which basically meant hurry up and do this and leave. But some nights a child would "um, um, um, um, um" and I would try to move on or skip and then tears because "I didn't get a chance." Or Sam, especially, would say "YOU FORGOT SORRY FOR!! YOU FORGOT THANKFUL FOR!!"

So yeah, I've cut it down. My intentions were to try to walk them through the different types of prayer, but that's a lot every night from wound up and tired children. Now I usually only ask one or two questions before saying our standards plus the litany.

Melanie Bettinelli said...

Yes, we have the "saying it in my mind" opt out too, but it doesn't get used all that often any more. Ben used to take it every night and for a long time I despaired at him ever participating in prayers. And oh yes we have the um, um, um or dead silence followed by howling when we dare to try to skip on to the next kid.

I think I tried to do the what are you sorry for a couple of times when we were preparing Bella for first confession. It was too much, though. I like the idea of walking them through different types of prayers, but recognize that we don't have to do all the kids all at the same time.