Many blessings to you all on this Lenten season. For some thoughts of why I bother with Lent, you can check out a post that I wrote for my friend Aideen’s blog.
During the first week of Great Lent, the Orthodox Church prays Great Compline together. This beautiful and haunting service includes the Prayer of Manasseh, the King of Judea who repented and turned the nation back to God. I include his prayer here for all of us to carry on our Lenten journey. May God open unto all the doors of repentance.
O Lord Almighty, the God of our fathers, of Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and of their righteous seed; Who hast made heaven and the earth with all their majesty; Who hast bound the sea by the word of Thy commandment; Who hast closed the abyss, and sealed it by Thy terrible and glorious name; of Whom all things are afraid, and tremble from the presence of Thy might; for no one can endure the majesty of Thy glory, and unbearable is the wrath of Thy threatening toward sinners, but immeasurable and unsearchable is the mercifulness of Thy promise; for Thou art the Lord most High, compassionate, long-suffering, and plenteous in mercy, and repentest of the evils of men: Thou, O Lord, according to the multitude of Thy goodness, hast promised penitence and forgiveness to them that have sinned against Thee, and in the multitude of Thy compassions hast decreed repentance for the salvation of sinners.
Thou, therefore, O Lord God of hosts, hast not appointed repentance for the righteous, for Abraham and Isaac and Jacob, who have not sinned against Thee, but hast laid repentance upon me a sinner, for I have sinned more than the number of the sands of the sea. Mine iniquities are multiplied, and I am not worthy to look upon and to see the height of heaven for the multitude of mine iniquities. For I am bowed down with many iron bands so that I cannot lift up my head, and there is no release for me, because I have provoked Thine anger, and done evil before Thee, neither having done Thy will, nor having kept Thy commandments; and now I bow the knees of my heart, beseeching of Thee clemency.
I have sinned, O Lord, I have sinned, and I know mine iniquities; but imploring I pray Thee: Loose me, O Lord, loose me, and destroy me not with mine iniquities. Neither in enmity forever keep mine evils, neither condemn me to the nethermost parts of the earth.
For Thou, O God, art the God of them that repent, and upon me Thou wilt show all Thy goodness; for Thou shalt save me who am unworthy, according to the plenitude of Thy mercy, and I will praise Thee continually throughout the days of my life: for all the heavenly hosts hymn Thee, and Thine is the glory unto the ages of ages. Amen.