Welcome to Grace! Bienvenido a La Gracia!

To Love, Proclaim, and Serve God through

Amar, Proclamar y Servir a Dios a través de

  • life-giving liturgical worship
  • joyful community
  • empowering others

We live our mission through worship, in which lay adults, children and youth participate alongside our clergy.  Traditional, life-giving Eucharistic liturgy and fine music are hallmarks of worship at our parish, and we have weekly services in both English and Spanish.  We create a joyful community with a harvest of fellowship activities and events for all ages.  We empower and serve others through vital ministries, particularly around feeding the hungry.  Please explore our website to get to know us or, better yet, come visit!

For more information or to be added to our mailing list, please contact us at welcome@gracealex.org.

 

 

From the Assistant Rector: The Great Litany

If you’ll bear with me, I’d like to put on my nerdy hat and share a bit of the history of the Great Litany. I love this liturgy deeply, and invite you to reflect on the meaning it has come or might come to hold for you.

On Sunday, we will begin our 7:30 a.m., 10:30 a.m., and 5 p.m. services by praying the Great Litany together. The word “litany” comes from the Greek λιτή (litê) or the Latin litania meaning “prayer” or “supplication.” Litanies have been around since ancient times, but in modern worship, litany typically refers to an intercessory prayer that is said or chanted and includes fixed responses from the congregation.

The Great Litany was first published in 1544 by Archbishop Thomas Cranmer, who drew upon the Sarum rite, the Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom, and Martin Luther’s Latin litany. It is said to be the first original English language rite to be published for use in public worship (that is, it was compiled in English, not translated from another language). Originally called simply The Litany, and it was included in the appendix of the 1549 Prayer Book. Retained through the various revisions in 1552, 1662, 1928, and 1979, our current prayer book renamed it “The Great Litany” in reference both to its length and the scope of prayers covered to distinguish it from a shorter litany for ordinations introduced in 1928. The solemn tone of the Litany makes it particular appropriate for penitential seasons such as Advent and Lent; hence, one of the reasons we use it every year on the first Sunday of Lent.

So… the Great Litany is old, but why should we care about it? What relevance does it have for Grace Episcopal Church today?

  1. The Great Litany invokes jarring language that catches me off-guard every time.
    “From the crafts and assaults of the devil; and from everlasting damnation. Good Lord, deliver us.” “To beat down Satan under our feet, We beseech thee to hear us, good Lord.” Oh my…The Great Litany prays for a broad range of topics from the church to earthquakes and tempests to the President of the USA to women in childbirth to those who are lonely to heresy. It is truly all over the place. And in a way, I need to be shaken every now and then to wake up in my prayer life. I need something to surprise me, to break me out of praying only for the things I’m used to praying for. The Great Litany – when I focus and hear each word – abruptly forces me to think critically about a much wider spectrum of prayers.
  2. The Great Litany holds us within a meditative rhythm of call and response that invites us to pray with our whole selves, not simply with our logical brains. There is something about the cadence of chanting that allows my guard to fall down and my heart to open to God and all the emotions that come up when I let God truly in. Chanting the Great Litany can be just as meaningful when I “zone out” and let the rhythm and sounds wash over me as when I critically think about each petition as mentioned above.
  3. And finally, the Great Litany connects the past and present of our Episcopal tradition. As we recite each petition, we can remember all the people around the world who have prayed it before us or will pray it after us. We are united through our liturgies, and especially through the Great Litany.

These are just a few of my (many) thoughts about the Great Litany, and I would love to hear your thoughts as well. Find me on Sunday to share about your experience of this particular prayer and what meaning it has come to hold for you!

I pray that each of you may feel held and supported by God’s abundant mercy and love this week.

Yours in Christ,
Mother Emma+