During Lent Christians are called to reflect on their lives for God. Many of us use the Litany of Penitence to help us reflect on how we are not living into the full potential of the life and love we have been made for. That litany names nearly every way we can sin and separate ourselves from God and hurt people.
Praying the litany is not a test. It is not a check up to see if we are doing better than last year. That litany prays us and it prays this world reminding us of our original separation from God.
The truth is we will never succeed or get an A+ at life. The best we can do is be a people who return again and again to God’s Presence of love in us and for the world.
I heard someone tell this story about Father Thomas Keating who has made his life’s work of love teaching Centering Prayer to anyone wanting a deeper life in God. This prayer method is silent, it is about stilling the mind and body so that the person can best allow God’s indwelling Presence minister to them.
As the story goes, a woman came up to Father Keating and said, “I am an utter failure at this prayer, in 20 minutes I had 10, 000 thoughts.” Without missing a beat and with a twinkle in his eye Father Keating responded, “How lovely, 10,000 opportunities to return to God.”
What if instead of trying to succeed at being a perfect person instead we practiced returning to God without judgment or shame? When we fail we would simply regard it as a lovely opportunity to return.
Would it not make us a more gentle and loving person! We would be so clear that God is with us, for us, and in us. We would be less likely to shame others when they fail because we ourselves would be on the journey of 10, 000 returns.
Litany of Penitence: http://www.allsaintsanglican.ca/images/File/Litany%20of%20Penitence.pdf