Countdown to Christmas: Spiritual Trivia


Can you guess the source of these lines of sacred text?

That it may please thee to make wars to cease in all the world; to give to all nations unity, peace and concord; and to bestow freedom upon all peoples,
That it may please thee to visit the lonely; to strengthen all who suffer in mind, body, and spirit; and to comfort with presence those who are failing and infirm,
That it may please thee to forgive our enemies, persecutors and slanderers, and to turn their hearts,

You could be forgiven for thinking they’re from some kind of meditation on loving kindness in the Upanishads or the Tibetan Book of the Dead.

These lines of deep prayer are actually pulled from a very Christian prayer called The Great Litany that is performed in a communal chant. Just like Buddhists.

Acutely Buddhist in its appeal for universal compassion, The Great Litany was performed in procession by thousands of churches around the world to mark the First Sunday of Advent — the last Sunday of November in 2014 — the official beginning of the Christmas season for all of you chocolate fiends with Advent calendars, and Day One of a new church year.

In the words of the theologian Alan Jones, former Dean of San Francisco’s Grace Cathedral, “the antique character” of The Great Litany embodies the essential message of Advent: No one is disposable.

Tis the season to respect all strangers, even the ones who cut you off in traffic, or beg for food, sell sex, lie to you on a call center in Asia from an evil script written by Comcast Inc. — or again, that driver who cut you off.

Tis the season to rejoice in the mystery.

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4 Responses to “Countdown to Christmas: Spiritual Trivia”

  1. Very interesting. So many people get caught up in the shopping. It’s easy to forget what’s really going on.

  2. It’s really interesting how comforting such traditions can be, isn’t it? I love the way you’ve presented it too. It really resonates with the education I had in grade school at a religiously-oriented institution.

  3. The part about ending wars is particularly salient this year. That’s my new year’s wish: peace in the middle east and the U.S. out of Iraq!


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