By the Rev. Roy Axel Coats
For thousands of years the Church has been praying the Litany, especially during the Holy Season of Lent. The Blessed Martin Luther wanted to ensure that the Church continue this pious practice and therefore published Latin and German editions of the Great Litany in 1529 and commended to us the use of the these prayers. Due to Luther’s work, we are blessed to have the Litany in our hymnals today. It can be found on page 110 of the Lutheran Hymnal and on page 288 of the Lutheran Service Book. In the Litany we pray for all aspects of human life. Yet in one petition we pray specifically for the most vulnerable in this world: “To grant all women with child, and all mothers with infant children, increasing happiness in their blessings; to defend all orphans and widows and provide for them; We implore You to hear us, good Lord.” We pray for the bonds of family, and for those who have lost that bond, the widows and the orphaned. Here the Church has also always prayed for woman who are pregnant. We pray that they would find increasing happiness in the child that they carry in their womb and see that child for what he or she is, a blessing. The phrase “increasing happiness” recognizes that mothers do face countless struggles that are hard to bear. That is why the Church prays that these women will have increasing happiness, a happiness that grows day after day as they see in their son or daughter the blessing of our Lord. While the Church has prayed in this way for centuries, this prayer becomes especially important for us now. The Holy Season of Lent that begins today, Ash Wednesday. It is in part a time to devout oneself to prayer. Praying the Litany daily is a great blessing. In it one prays for all of life, and the struggles we face. It also helps us recognize the blessings that our Lord daily gives to us. This Lent especially, as we pray the Litany or other prayers, take time to pray for our mothers, that they might have increasing happiness in their children.