PRAYERS & DEVOTIONS TO ST. JOHN THE BAPTIST

By Fr Christopher Cook

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THE COLLECT FOR THE NATIVITY OF ST JOHN THE BAPTIST

Almighty God, by whose providence thy servant John Baptist was wonderfully born, and sent to prepare the way of thy Son our Saviour, by preaching of repentance; Make us so to follow his doctrine and holy life, that we may truly repent according to his preaching; and after his example constantly speak the truth, boldly rebuke vice, and patiently suffer for the truth’s sake, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

 THE COLLECT FOR THE BEHEADING OF ST JOHN THE BAPTIST

Almighty God, who didst call thy servant John the Baptist to be in birth and death the forerunner of the blessed Son: strengthen us by thy grace that, as he suffered for the truth, so may we boldly withstand corruption and vice, and receive with him the unfading crown of glory; through the same Christ thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, world without end. Amen.

WHY WE PRAY TO THE SAINTS

 

Asking the Saints to pray for us is scriptural and has always been part of mainstream Christianity. In 1 Timothy 2:1-4, Paul says: “First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all men, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life, godly and respectful in every way. This is good, and pleasing to God our Saviour, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” Clearly, then, intercessory prayers offered by Christians on behalf of others is something “good and pleasing to God.” 

If we think of the lives of all the great saints, we can say that one of the most striking characteristics is that they are men and women (and sometimes children) of prayer. To pray is part of the very essence of what it means to be human. How then can the Saints cease to pray when they reach heaven? The scriptures make it clear that not only do those in heaven pray with us, they also pray for us. In the book of Revelation, we read: “[An] angel came and stood at the altar [in heaven] with a golden censer; and he was given much incense to mingle with the prayers of all the saints upon the golden altar before the throne; and the smoke of the incense rose with the prayers of the saints from the hand of the angel before God.” (Rev. 8:3-4)

And those in heaven who offer to God our prayers are not just angels, but humans as well. John sees that “the twenty-four elders [the leaders of the people of God in heaven] fell down before the Lamb, each holding a harp, and with golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints” (Rev. 5:8). The simple fact is, as this passage shows, that the saints in heaven offer to God the prayers of the saints on earth.

St John the Baptist is one of the foremost of all the Saints. As the last of the Prophets, as one who while still in his mother’s womb greeted and adored the unborn Christ in the womb of Mary, and as the one who identified Christ as the Lamb of God on the banks of the River Jordan, he is especially close to Christ and beloved of God. We are lucky to have such a patron, and we can therefore with confidence ask him to pray for us and to present our petitions and requests at the foot of the throne of Almighty God.

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LITANY OF ST JOHN THE BAPTIST

This beautiful Litany of St John recalls many incidents in his life and aspects of his ministry. It is a wonderful way of meditating on his message and his relevance for us today. The prayer is centred on Christ, for the importance of John was not in himself but in his role in pointing us towards him who is the Lamb of God. The litany is best said slowly and meditatively.

 

Lord, have mercy on us. Christ, have mercy on us.

Christ, hear us. Christ, graciously hear us.

God the Father of Heaven, Have mercy on us.

God the Son, Redeemer of the world, Have mercy on us.

God the Holy Spirit, Have mercy on us.

Holy Trinity, One God, Have mercy on us.

 

Holy Mary, pray for us.
Queen of Prophets, pray for us.
Queen of Martyrs, pray for us.


Saint John the Baptist, pray for us.
St. John the Baptist, precursor of Christ, pray for us.
St. John the Baptist, glorious forerunner of the Sun of Justice, pray for us.
St. John the Baptist, minister of baptism to Jesus, pray for us.
St. John the Baptist, burning and shining lamp of the world, pray for us.
St. John the Baptist, angel of purity before thy birth, pray for us.
St. John the Baptist, special friend and favourite of Christ, pray for us.
St. John the Baptist, heavenly contemplative, whose element was prayer, pray for us.
St. John the Baptist, intrepid preacher of truth, pray for us.
St. John the Baptist, voice crying in the wilderness, pray for us.
St. John the Baptist, miracle of mortification and penance, pray for us.
St. John the Baptist, example of profound humility, pray for us.
St. John the Baptist, glorious martyr of zeal for God’s holy law, pray for us.
St. John the Baptist, gloriously fulfilling thy mission, pray for us.

 

Lamb of God, Who takest away the sins of the world, Spare us, O Lord.

Lamb of God, Who takest away the sins of the world, Hear us, O Lord.

Lamb of God, Who takest away the sins of the world, Have mercy on us.

Christ, hear us. Christ, graciously hear us.

V. Pray for us, O glorious St. John the Baptist,
R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

Let us Pray:


O God, Who hast honoured this world by the birth of Saint John the Baptist, grant that Thy faithful people may rejoice in the way of eternal salvation, through Jesus Christ Our Lord.


R. Amen.

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  TWO NOVENAS TO ST JOHN

 

The word “novena” comes from the Latin for the numeral nine. It simply means a planned scheme of prayer for a particular intention, spread over nine days. This is a thoroughly scriptural practice, and goes back to earliest times. In the Acts of the Apostles we are told that for the nine days after Our Lord’s Ascension into heaven, until the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, the disciples were all together with Mary praying in the Upper Room. They were praying and spiritually preparing themselves for the Descent of the Holy Spirit. Ever since then Christians have followed this practice of nine days of prayer for a particular intention. The following are two versions of the Novena to St John, though similar in many ways.

FIRST NOVENA

In this Novena the following petitions and prayers are repeated every day.

 

O glorious St. John the Baptist,

Greatest prophet among those born of woman,* although thou wast sanctified in thy mother’s womb * and didst live a most innocent life, * nevertheless it was thy will to retire into the wilderness, * there to devote thyself to the practice of austerity and penance; * obtain for us of thy Lord the grace to be wholly detached, * at least in our hearts, * from earthly goods, * and to practice Christian mortification with interior recollection * and with the spirit of holy prayer.

 

St. John the Baptist, precursor of Christ, Pray for us. 

St. John the Baptist, shining lamp of the world, Pray for us. 

St. John the Baptist, angel of purity before thy birth, Pray for us.

 

O most zealous Apostle,

 

Who, without working any miracle on others, * but solely by the example of thy life of penance * and the power of thy word, * didst draw after thee the multitudes, * in order to dispose them to receive the Messiah worthily * and to listen to His heavenly doctrine; * grant that it may be given unto us, * by means of the example of a holy life * and the exercise of every good work, * to bring many souls to God, * but above all * those souls that are enveloped in the darkness of error and ignorance * and that are led astray by vice.

 

St. John the Baptist, intrepid preacher of truth, Pray for us.

St. John the Baptist, voice crying in the wilderness, Pray for us.

St. John the Baptist, miracle of mortification and penance, Pray for us.

 

O Martyr invincible,

Who, for the honour of God and the salvation of souls, * didst with firmness and constancy * withstand the impiety of Herod * even at the cost of thine own life, * and didst rebuke him openly * for his wicked and dissolute life; * by thy prayers obtain for us a heart, * brave and generous, * in order that we may overcome all human respect * and openly profess our faith * in loyal obedience to the teachings of Jesus  Christ, * our divine Master.

 

St. John the Baptist, example of profound humility, Pray for us.

St. John the Baptist, great defender of holy matrimony, Pray for us. 

St. John the Baptist, glorious martyr of zeal for God’s holy law, Pray for us.

 

O God, we rejoice at the apostolate of Saint John the Baptist, though whom we came to know our Redeemer and King. Through his intercession we implore... (Name Your Request)

We offer this prayer to Thee God the Father, through Christ Our Lord, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, one God forever and ever.

 

Amen.

 

Conclude with an Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be.

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SECOND NOVENA

 

In this second Novena each of the nine day commences with the Litany of St. John the Baptist, which is followed  by a set of prayers, which differ according to the day of the Novena.

 

Litany of St John the Baptist

Lord, have mercy on us. 

Christ, have mercy on us. 

Lord, have mercy on us. 

 

Christ hear us. Christ graciously hear us. 

God the Father of Heaven, have mercy on us. 

God the Son, Redeemer of the world, have mercy on us. 

God the Holy Ghost, have mercy on us. 

Holy Trinity, One God, have mercy on us. 

Holy Mary, pray for us. 

Queen of Prophets, pray for us. 

Queen of Martyrs, pray for us. 

 

St. John the Baptist, pray for us. 

St. John the Baptist, precursor of Christ, pray for us. 

St. John the Baptist, glorious forerunner of the Sun of Justice, pray for us. 

St. John the Baptist, minister of Baptism to Jesus, pray for us. 

St. John the Baptist, burning and shining lamp of the world, pray for us. 

St. John the Baptist, angel of purity before thy birth, pray for us. 

St. John the Baptist, special friend and favourite of Christ, pray for us. 

St. John the Baptist, heavenly contemplative whose element was prayer, pray for us. 

St. John the Baptist, intrepid preacher of truth, pray for us. 

St. John the Baptist, voice crying in the wilderness, pray for us. 

St. John the Baptist, miracle of mortification and penance, pray for us. 

St. John the Baptist, example of profound humility, pray for us. 

St. John the Baptist, glorious martyr of zeal for God’s holy law, pray for us. 

St. John the Baptist, gloriously fulfilling thy mission, pray for us. 

 

Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world, Spare us O Lord.

Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world, Graciously hear us O Lord. 

Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world, Have mercy on us. Christ hear us. Christ graciously hear us. 

Pray for us, O Glorious St. John the Baptist, 

That we may be made worth of the promises of Christ. 

 

LET US PRAY: 

O God, Who hast honoured this world by the birth of Saint John the Baptist, grant that Thy faithful people may rejoice in the way of eternal salvation, through Jesus Christ Our Lord. Amen 

 

The Novena Prayers to be said after the Litany of St John:

 

DAYS 1, 4 & 7 

O GLORIOUS, ST. JOHN THE BAPTIST, * greatest prophet among those born of woman, * although thou was sanctified in thy mother’s womb * and didst lead a most innocent life, * nevertheless it was thy will to retire into the wilderness, * there to devote thyself to the practice of austerity and penance; * obtain for us of thy Lord * the grace to be wholly detached, * at least in our hearts, * from earthly goods, * and to practice Christian mortification * with interior recollection * and with the spirit of holy prayer. * Amen. 

 

DAYS 2, 5 & 8 

O MOST ZEALOUS APOSTLE, * who, without working any miracle on others, * but solely by the example of thy life of penance * and the power of thy word, * didst draw after thee the multitudes, * in order to dispose them to receive the Messiah worthily * and to listen to His heavenly doctrine; * grant that it may be given unto us, * by means of the example of a holy life * and the exercise of every good work, * to bring many souls to God, * but above all those souls * that are enveloped in the darkness of error and ignorance * and are led astray by vice. * Amen. 

 

DAYS 3, 6 & 9 

O MARTYR INVINCIBLE, * who, for the honour of God and the salvation of souls, * didst with firmness and constancy withstand the impiety of Herod * even at the cost of thine own life, * and didst rebuke him openly for his wicked and dissolute life; * by thy prayers obtain for us a heart, * brave and generous, * in order that we may overcome all human respect * and openly profess our faith in loyal obedience * to the teachings of Jesus Christ, * our divine Master. * Amen. 

Conclusion of the Novena, to be said each day:

 

Here mention your petitions and special intention.

 

O glorious St. John the Baptist, through the love thou does bear to Jesus Christ, and for the glory of His Name,

Hear our prayers and obtain our petitions. 

 

Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be... 

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A PRAYER FOR MISSION

 

O most zealous Apostle,
who, without working any miracle on others,
but solely by the example of thy life of penance and the power of thy word,
didst draw after thee the multitudes,
in order to dispose them to receive the Messiah worthily
and to listen to His heavenly doctrine;

Grant that it may be given unto us,
by means of thy example of a holy life
and the exercise of every good work,
to bring many souls to God,
but above all those souls that are enveloped
in the darkness of error and ignorance and are led astray by vice.     

 

Amen.

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A PRAYER FOR DETACHMENT

O glorious Saint John the Baptist,

Greatest prophet among those born of woman,
although thou wast sanctified in thy mother's womb
and didst lead a most innocent life,
nevertheless it was thy will to retire into the wilderness,
there to devote thyself to the practice of austerity and penance;

Obtain for us of thy Lord the grace to be wholly detached,
at least in our hearts, from earthly goods,
and to practice Christian mortification
with interior recollection and with the spirit of holy prayer.

Amen.

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TWO PRAYERS FOR A STRONG AND COURAGEOUS FAITH

O Martyr invincible,

Who, for the honour of God and the salvation of souls
didst with firmness and constancy withstand the impiety of Herod
even at the cost of thine own life,
and didst rebuke him openly for his wicked and dissolute life;

by thy prayers obtain for us a heart, brave and generous,
in order that we may overcome all the contrary worldly pressures
and openly profess our faith in loyal obedience
to the teachings of Jesus Christ, our divine Master.

 

Amen.

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O God,  You raised up St. John the Baptist to prepare a perfect people for Christ.

Fill Your people with the joy of possessing His grace, and direct the minds of all the faithful in the way of peace and salvation.

Grant that as St. John was martyred for truth and justice,
so we may energetically profess our Faith in You,
and lead others to the Way, the Truth, and Eternal Life. 

Amen.

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PRAY FOR US, HOLY SAINT JOHN THE BAPTIST,

THAT WE MAY BE MADE WORTHY OF THE PROMISES OF CHRIST.