Given the reality of Coronavirus, many of us can't safely gather to mark Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent. For those who would like to mark the day with prayer and reflection, I offer this at-home form of Ash Wednesday prayers. Gather with your household (pets included). Create holy space, perhaps at your dinner table or in a quiet corner of your home. Light a candle. Sit in silence for a few moments. Enter the silence and solemnness of Lent. You may also use the service in the Book of Common Prayer beginning on page 264.
We are invited, in the name of the Church, to the observance of a holy Lent, by self-examination and repentance; by prayer, fasting, and self-denial; and by reading and meditating on God's holy Word. And, to make a right beginning of repentance, and as a mark of our mortal nature, let us keep silence before the Lord, our maker and redeemer.
After a period of silence, pray the Litany of Penance. If you are with a group, you may replace “I” with “we.”
On this day, Almighty God, I remember that I am dust, and to dust I shall return.
I have had uncharitable thoughts about others. I have expressed prejudice and contempt toward other children of God, especially those who differ from me. I have not loved those I consider my enemy.
I have sinned against God, my neighbor, and myself by thought, word, and deed and in what I have done, and in what I have left undone.
For these sins, for these shortcomings, and for my lack of love, grace, and faith, I confess to you. Merciful God, and ask your restoration and forgiveness.
After a time of silence, offer the following prayer:
Have mercy on me, O God, according to your loving kindness; in your great compassion blot out my offenses. Wash me through and through from my wickedness, and cleanse me from my sin For I know my transgressions only too well, and my sin is ever before me. Holy God, Holy and Mighty, Holy Immortal One, have mercy upon us.
Almighty God, you manifest your servants the signs of your presence: Send forth upon all your servants the Spirit of your love, that in companionship with one another, your abounding grace, faith, and forgiveness may increase among us, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
The Solemn Prayer and Dismissal
Grant, most merciful Lord, to all your faithful people pardon and peace, that we may be cleansed from all our sins, and serve you with a quiet mind and faithful heart; through Christ our Lord. Amen.