centurionum, primus pilus salutem
This is a historical note on litanies showing that centurions of the Early Church would have used the litany prayer forms, and a reflection on the Centurion's Daily Litany that was prepared by one of our members and published recently.
Litanies existed in the 4th century, or earlier, petitions, that is to say, followed by the Greek words, Kyrie eleison ("Lord have mercy"), and afterwards by other responses also. Before it came to be used as a separate service, this type of Litany was already in the Byzantine rite a prominent part of the Holy Communion Service: it still is so, and indeed what strikes the traveller most about the celebration of the Liturgy in Greece or Russia is the deep-voiced deacon, chanting the litanies on the foot-pace in front of the altar-screen, while the choir and people respond.
If you used our Centurion's Daily Litany for prayer, you'll of course notice the similarities between our form and the ancient form described above:
1. The Centurion's Daily Litany begins with petitions for our daily walk with God, and is actually intended for corporate worship as there are responses and the pronoun "us" is used. I, and others, use it daily and so you can be assured that "us" is proper -- in saying it you will be in the "company" of other saints.
2. The Centurion's Daily Litany moves then to intercessions for specifically named "saints" of the living church, the Church Militant, who are in the Order (I've used saints here in the same way that it was first used and is found in scripture... all those who are in Christ. [Rom 8-27, Eph 16:18] and a general intercession for peace.
3. The Centurion's Daily Litany has the ancient Kyrie eleison "Lord have mercy upon us, Christ have mercy upon us, Lord have mercy upon us.
4. The Centurion's Daily Litany has concluding prayers, for all centurions, and for ourselves as centurions - the Prayer of the Order.
I encourage you to use the Centurion's Daily Litany for the named centurions each week and others centurions, by name, for whom we have requested your prayers. You need not stop there, the litany may be expanded to include others. For instance, I have three friends in Iraq now that I include in my recitation of the daily litany.
You may even wish to make up you own litany. The Centurion's Daily Litany provides a good example, and so does this Litany of Prayers, or a General Supplication adopted for the Order.
Links used in this paper.