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Litany of the Catechumens

This article forms part of the series on the
Divine Liturgy
Liturgy of the Preparation
Liturgical objects
Liturgy of the Word
Great Litany
Little Entrance
Thrice-Holy Hymn
Litany of Fervent Supplication
Litany for the Departed
Litany of the Catechumens
Liturgy of the Eucharist
Cherubic Hymn
Great Entrance
Litany of the Completion
Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed
Lord's Prayer
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The Litany of the Catechumens, recited during the Divine Liturgy, is a litany that traditionally ended the part of the service which the catechumens were permitted to attend, the Liturgy of the Word.

Prayer for and by the catechumens

This litany is composed of petitions for the catechumens as they prepare for baptism. In it, the faithful pray for the catechumens, asking that the Lord may have mercy upon them, illumine them with the Gospel of Truth, and unite them to his Holy Church, granting them "in due time the laver of regeneration, the remission of sins, and the robe of incorruption" in baptism.

There may not be any catechumens present at the service, but the Church prays for all catechumens everywhere.

Dismissal of the catechumens

The litany concludes with a dismissal of the catechumens and the closing of the doors of the temple to all but baptized members in good standing. The catechumens are prayed for and dismissed from the Divine Liturgy since, as not yet baptized, they can not receive the Eucharistic gifts. In the early Church all those under penance for their sins, and all who were not receiving Holy Communion, also left the liturgical gathering at this time.

At present, the dismissal of the catechumens has become only a reminder of the past, since it is not the case that noncommunicants, or even the nonbaptized, depart the gathering of the Eucharistic liturgy.

During the litany of the catechumens, the priest unfolds on the altar table the antimins, a cloth with a depiction of the burial of Christ, in preparation for the Liturgy of the Faithful.