6 July 2007

An Act of Contrition

O my God,
I am sorry for my sins with all my heart;
in choosing to do wrong,
and in failing to do good,
I have sinned against you
whom I should firmly love above all things.
I intend, with the help of your grace,
to do penance, to sin no more,
and to avoid whatever leads me to sin.
For the sake of your Son Jesus Christ,
have mercy on me and forgive me.
Yesterday, I was a meanie. A big, bad meanie. I did not have the right to slaughter this person on a MySpace forum as I did, even if I thought he was in the wrong for being an ethnocentric xenophobe. (I won't go further.) Nevertheless, he didn't deserve that injustice, and another friend didn't deserve the insult I threw at him either. Some were aghast, some found it humourous, and whilst at the moment I thought myself justified, I quickly realized it wasn't the Christian thing to do.

And God said: "Let us make the human in our image..." (Genesis 1.26)

You see, I really feel guilty for what I did. Page 370 of The Book of Common Prayer says "...you blessed us with memory, reason, and skill", and in the catechism, it says, "It [to be made in the image of God] means that we are free to make choices: to love, to create, to reason, and to live in harmony with creation and with God". She or he may be right or wrong, but nevertheless, the divine imprint is still on them, and we should thank God for the freedom to make up our minds, to agree or disagree with each other. Each person's dignity deserves to be respected, no matter how much you may disagree with what they say, because to do so would be to dishonour the image of God, or as my old priest Father David once told me, to murder the image of God.

A Jewish Kabbalist author wrote:
"Every person is a spark of God's life.
Each face is a mirror of his love in the world.
Each one is beautiful...each one is love...
a creative expression...
of God's own image of himself.

So each time you look into another's face...
Each time you encounter another person...
wherever you may be...
Think of God's beauty and love in his whole Creation...
How is he expressed through this face?
Can you see his love looking back at you?"
It hurts me to think that I failed God and my neighbour. I made a covenant with God at my baptism and affirmed it at my confirmation, yet I have failed to honour that covenant. I have always pledged myself to seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving each of them like Christ loved us, and to respect the dignity of every human being; yet I have forgotten these baptismal promises. I have become a hypocrite.

So I confess to Almighty God, to you my brothers and sisters, and to all the saints, that I have sinned through my fault *strikes chest*, through my most grievious fault *strikes chest again, harder*, in thought, word, and in deed; and I ask you, my brothers and sisters, and all the saints, to pray to the Lord our God for me.

In the words of the Ash Wednesday Office (BCP page 268):
For all false jugdments, for uncharitable thoughts towards our neighbours, and for our prejudice and contempt toward those who differ from us,
Accept our repentance, Lord.

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