Overwhelmed with the Darkness of the World? Try this Prayer

The Litany of Light is prayer that makes us missionaries to the dark places of the world, even if we can't leave home.

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By Carrie Gress

Last Summer, I wrote a prayer that came to me one night. I explained where the idea came from at the National Catholic Register:

It has become something of a nightly routine for one of my children to wake me up between 2-4 a.m. I can often get back to sleep quickly, but on one of those nights I found it difficult. I started thinking about all of the things that need prayer and charity in this world. “If only I could bring some light to these places,” I thought, feeling limited by my humanity and vocation to the four tiny souls entrusted to my care. 

Over this last year, I have been studying beauty and the role of light in medieval thought. Through the likes of St. Hildegard of Bingen, Bishop Robert Grosseteste, St. Bonaventure, St. Thomas Aquinas and others, I have come to appreciate anew the role that Christ’s light plays here on Earth. Christ as the light of the world is a major theme of medieval thought. We have lost a sense of light’s importance in our own day largely because we can easily chase the dark away with the flip of a switch. This is, however, a relatively new development, even if most of us never experienced life any other way. But the medievals were fascinated by light, by the gift of it and by its transforming power physically, morally and spiritually. They spent copious amounts of precious ink trying to articulate the profound relationship between light and God, and what we can learn about the latter from the former.

 Inside of The Litany of Light Pamphlet

Inside of The Litany of Light Pamphlet

So there in the darkness in the wee hours of the night, the thought hit me that even if I can’t go to these places and help, I could ask the Source of all light to go to them. I realized that I could send Christ to illuminate the very dark corners of the earth. The Litany of Light is the fruit of these meager prayers. The saints included were all champions of sorts of Christ’s light. And the places of great darkness will be familiar to us all, in one form or another.

As our world seems to descend into greater darkness, we can be confident that our Advocate and Savior is with us and that He is “the light that shines in darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it” (John 1:5). 

Bishop Liam Cary, of the Baker Diocese in Oregon, issued an imprimatur for my prayer (which can be seen at NCR). Shortly after blogging about the Litany of Light, Marian Press reached out to me to print the litany and share it with others in print form.

The folks at Marian and I have worked together to improve the litany with changes here and there and a new imprimatur was issued. So this little prayer, that came to me in the darkness almost a year ago, is now seeing the true light of day. The Litany of Light truly is prayer that makes us missionaries to the dark places of the world, even if we can't leave home.

Copies of The Litany of Light are available at Marian Press.

Carrie Gress