just an apprentice

the Word became flesh and dwelt among us...

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Litany of Penitence...

Most holy and merciful Father:

I confess to you and to the whole communion of saints in heaven and on earth.
I have not loved you with my whole heart, and mind, and strength.
I have not loved my neighbors as myself.
I have not forgiven others, as I have been forgiven.
Have mercy on me, Lord.

I have been deaf to your call to serve, as Christ served us.
I have not been true to the mind of Christ.
I have grieved your Holy Spirit.
Have mercy on me, Lord.

I confess to you, Lord, all my past unfaithfulness:
the pride, hypocrisy, and impatience of my life,
I confess to you, Lord.

My self-indulgent appetites and ways, and my exploitation of other people,
I confess to you, Lord.

My anger at my own frustration, and my envy of those more fortunate than I,
I confess to you, Lord.

My intemperate love of worldly goods and comforts, and my dishonesty in daily life and work,
I confess to you, Lord.

My negligence in prayer and worship, and my failure to commend the faith that is in me,
I confess to you, Lord.

Accept my repentance, Lord, for the wrongs I have done: for my blindness to human need and suffering, and my indifference to injustice and cruelty,
Accept my repentance, Lord.

For all false judgments, for uncharitable thoughts toward my neighbors, and for my prejudice and contempt toward those who differ from me,
Accept my repentance, Lord.

For my waste and pollution of your creation, and my lack of concern for those who come after us,
Accept my repentance, Lord.

Restore me, good Lord, and let your anger depart from me,
Favorably hear me for your mercy is great.
Accomplish in me and all of your church the work of your salvation,
That I may show forth your glory in the world.
By the cross and passion of your Son our Lord,
Bring me with all your saints to the joy of his resurrection.†


  • At 6:36 PM , Blogger Dwight Longenecker said...

    Thank you for posting this beautiful litany for the beginning of Advent.

    I am interested to notice that the opening lines of the prayer, in which we confess our sins to the "whole communion of saint in heaven and on earth" assumes several theological positions not normally held by Christians of a Reformation tradition.

    The first is that our sins are offenses not only against God, but also against Christ's body, the Church. This is why we confess our sins to the Church.

    The second assumption in this short line is that the saints in heaven may be prayed to.

    The third assumption, based on the second, is that our prayers to saints in heaven will have some efficacy. If we didn't think it did any good, why do we pray to them?

    The fourth assumption based on the third, is that the saints above have an intercessory role in heaven similar to the role of the saints below.

    The fifth assumption is that there is some point in confessing our sins to the 'whole communion of saints.' This assumes that the church has some sort of function in the forgiveness of sins. Else why confess our sins to the whole church?

    If the Church does have some part to play in the forgiveness of sins, does this not lead us toward the Catholic sacrament of confession---in which the penitent confesses his sins to the priest (who has been empowered by the Churc to effect the forgiveness of Christ in our lives?

    As we pray so we believe.

  • At 9:07 PM , Blogger Brian Miller said...

    Thank you for these words unpacking the meaning behind the litany of penitence. You are correct in your observation that the theological positions assumed in this prayer of confession are ones not normally held by Christians of a Reformation tradition.

    Confession is something that is not always practiced by those who would claim the Catholic faith. I have a colleague who is Catholic. He told me one time that he doesn't go to confession because of not wanting to appear hypocritical. I suppose there is something to be said for his desire to have integrity. Yet, I wonder what his spiritual life is missing because of avoiding the sacrament of confession.

    As Mennonites we don't necessarily have a formal sacrament of confession. That is one of the aspect of using a prayer book that has enriched my spiritual journey. In the compline there is a prayer of confession each night. I recognize that this is different from confessing to a priest, but at least I'm called to a level of humility and awareness of my own sinfulness. The Ignatian Examen is another helpful practice to stay attentive to my own need to confess sin.

    Because this idea of offering prayers to saints is not something that is taught within my tradition, I am just in the process of beginning to understand this view of the Church.

    I am amazed at the manifold expressions of God's grace and am desiring to walk in a spirit of openness toward all that Christ has for us--the Body of Christ.

    Your words are a gift. I'm honored by your visit to this blog.

    Grace and peace,

  • At 9:45 PM , Blogger Dwight Longenecker said...

    I believe we are in a specially graced time within the history of the Church. Many Catholics are learning to love the true riches of the Reformation traditions, and many of our 'separated brethren' are learning to understand and love the richness of the Catholic faith.

    Saying Compline is a wonderful habit. I like to light the candles, put on my CD of the monks of Quarr Abbey singing compline, and just resting in the Lord.

    Confession to others in the church is a scriptural practice (James 5.16) Christ's power to forgive sins is also given to the church (Mt 16.19 and John 20.22-23)

    Perhaps you will pray for me. I am to be ordained a Catholic priest next Thursday.

  • At 9:49 PM , Blogger Brian Miller said...

    I will pray for you in your ordination. May God richly bless this day and this new season of ministry in the Church.

    In Christ,

  • At 8:05 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

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