Thursday, March 09, 2006

The Litany of Penitence

Pray aloud the italicized words, pausing only to reflect on the brief comments in between offered up by Scot McKnight:

Most holy and merciful Father:

The Litany leads us to confess both general & specific sins. It also leads us to request the mercy of God. As we follow along, we have found our own story in the recital.

We confess to you and to one another,
and to the whole communion of saints
in heaven and on earth,
that we have sinned by our own fault
in thought, word, and deed;
by what we have done, and by what we have left undone.

We now move into a deeper probing of low-intensity sins, such as a lack of love and lack of forgiveness.

We have not loved you with our whole heart, and mind, and
strength. We have not loved our neighbors as ourselves. We
have not forgiven others, as we have been forgiven.
Have mercy on us, Lord.
We have been deaf to your call to serve, as Christ served us.
We have not been true to the mind of Christ. We have grieved
your Holy Spirit.
Have mercy on us, Lord.

Now we need to pause for each sin mentioned and let our minds be lead to our own sins.

We confess to you, Lord, all our past unfaithfulness: the
pride, hypocrisy, and impatience of our lives,
We confess to you, Lord.
Our self-indulgent appetites and ways, and our exploitation
of other people,
We confess to you, Lord.
Our anger at our own frustration, and our envy of those
more fortunate than ourselves,
We confess to you, Lord.
Our intemperate love of worldly goods and comforts, and
our dishonesty in daily life and work,
We confess to you, Lord.
Our negligence in prayer and worship, and our failure to
commend the faith that is in us,
We confess to you, Lord.

Now we cry out to God to accept our confession and repentance. God's love for us means that He accepts our prayers of confession and heartfelt repentance.

Accept our repentance, Lord, for the wrongs we have done:
for our blindness to human need and suffering, and our
indifference to injustice and cruelty,
Accept our repentance, Lord.
For all false judgments, for uncharitable thoughts toward our
neighbors, and for our prejudice and contempt toward those
who differ from us,
Accept our repentance, Lord.
For our waste and pollution of your creation, and our lack of
concern for those who come after us,
Accept our repentance, Lord.

To finish, the litany anchors our forgiveness in the unfailing promises of God and leads us to pledge holiness to Him. As we tell the truth to God we can feel his warmth towards us, restoring us to peace and new life.

Restore us, good Lord, and let your anger depart from us;
Favorably hear us, for your mercy is great.
Accomplish in us the work of your salvation,
That we may show forth your glory in the world.

By the cross and passion of your Son our Lord,
Bring us with all your saints to the joy of his resurrection.

The pastor offers us the following promise, and we can say it ourselves:

Almighty God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who
desires not the death of sinners, but rather that they may turn
from their wickedness and live, has given power and
commandment to his ministers to declare and pronounce to
his people, being penitent, the absolution and remission of
their sins. He pardons and absolves all those who truly
repent, and with sincere hearts believe his holy Gospel.

Therefore we beseech him to grant us true repentance and his
Holy Spirit, that those things may please him which we do on
this day, and that the rest of our life hereafter may be pure
and holy, so that at the last we may come to his eternal joy;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.



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