The Divine Hours of Lent

Friday is, as we all know, the day of summary in our human week, the day for considering what we have accomplished or failed to accomplish, the day for regretting sometimes and, a lot of times, the day for planning for the week to come.
Historically, the Church has sanctified our human Fridays by urging them upon us as the week-day most suitable for fasting and for special confession of sins. But during Lent, we often feel that our Friday words of confession need to be different from the ordinary ones of personal offenses and minor–or major–infractions. We feel that the confessions of Lent’s Fridays want to be of a more intentional and thoughtful, less idiosyncratic and particularized nature than are the words of ordinary Fridays. During Lent, we understand, as we often do not during the rest of the liturgical year, that the sorrow of the whole Church’s failures is as one with the sorrows of each of us as individual believers and that, when and as we fail in our individual lives, we fail the whole body of Christ, not just our own souls.
For that reason, on the Fridays of Lent, thousands and thousands of Christians move from confession per se, to the deep, deep praying of a Litany of Penitence The one I use is taken from The Book of Common Prayer, and I have re-printed it here in the hope that, if it is unknown to you, you will consider its use today; and in the hope that if it is familiar to you already, you will the more readily perceive in our saying it together the true presence of a communion of saints.
Most holy and merciful Father:
I confess to you and to the whole communion of saints
in heaven and on earth,
that I have sinned by my own fault
in thought, word, and deed;
by what I have done, and by what I have left undone.
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 that 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 for 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.

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