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A Lenten Examination of Conscience: The Southwell Litany

The Southwell Litany was composed by George Ridding, first bishop of Southwell, England (Church of England). As Lent is a time of prayer and repentance, this litany is most helpful for self-reflection and examination as one enters their prayer time.

From moral weakness, from hesitation, from fear of men and dread of responsibility; strengthen us with courage to speak the truth in love and self-control; and alike from the weakness of hasty violence and from the weakness of moral cowardice: Save us and help us, O Lord.

From weakness of judgment, from the indecision that can make no choice and from the irresolution that carries no choice into action; Strengthen our eyes to see and our wills to choose the right; And from losing opportunities to serve you, and from perplexing ourselves and others with uncertainties: Save us and help us, O Lord.

From infirmity of purpose, from want or earnest care and interest, from sluggish indolence and slack indifference, and from all spiritual deadness of heart: Save us and help us, O Lord.

From dullness of conscience, from feeble sense of duty from thoughtless disregard of consequences to others, from a low idea of the obligations of our calling, and from half-heartedness in our service:   Save us and help us, O Lord.

From weariness in continuing struggles, from dependency on ourselves in failure and disappointments, from overburdened sense of unworthiness, from morbid fancies of imaginary backsliding.  Raise us to a lively hope in mercy and in the power of faith; And from all exaggerated fears and vexations: Save us and help us, O Lord.

From self-conceit, vanity, and boasting, from delight in supposed success and superiority; Raise us to the modesty and humility of true sense and taste and reality; And from all the harms and hindrances of offensive manners and self-assertion: Save us and help us, O Lord.

From affectation and untruth, conscious or unconscious, from pretence and hypocrisy, from impulsive self-adaptation to the moment to please persons or make circumstances easy; Strengthen us to true simplicity; and from all false appearances: Save us and help us, O Lord.

From love of flattery, from over-ready belief in praise, from dislike of criticism, and from the comfort of self-deception in persuading ourselves that others think better of us than we are: Save us and help us, O Lord.

From all love of display and sacrifice to popularity, from thinking of ourselves and forgetting you in our worship: Hold our minds in spiritual reverence; and from self-glorification in all our words and works: Save us and help us, O Lord.

From pride and self-will, from the desire to have our way in all things, from overweening love of our own ideas, and blindness to the value of others, from resentment against opposition and contempt for the claims of others: Enlarge the generosity of our hearts and enlighten the fairness of our judgments; and from all selfish arbitrariness of tempter: Save us and help us, O Lord.

From jealousy, whether of equals or superiors, from grudging others success, from impatience of submission and eagerness for authority:  Give us the spirit of common fellowship to share loyally with fellow-workers in all true proportion; and from all insubordination to just law and proper authority: Save us and help us, O Lord.

From all hasty utterances of impatience, from the retort of irritation and the taunt of sarcasm, from all infirmity of temper in provoking or being provoked; and from all idle words that may do hurt: Save us and help us, O Lord.

In all times of temptation to follow pleasure, to leave duty for amusement, to indulge in distraction, dissipation, dishonesty, or debt, or to degrade our high calling and forget our solemn vows; And in all times of frailty in our flesh: Save us and help us, O Lord.

In all times of ignorance and perplexity as to what is right and best to do; Direct us with wisdom to judge aright, and order our ways, and overrule our circumstances by your good Providence, and in all our mistakes and misunderstandings: Save us and help us, O Lord.

From strife, partisanship, and division, from magnifying our certainties to condemn all differences, from building systems to exclude all challenges, and from all arrogance in our dealings with others: Save us and help us, O Lord.

Give us knowledge of ourselves: our power and weaknesses, our spirit, our sympathy, and imagination, our knowledge, our truth; Teach us by the standard of your Word, by the judgments of others, by examination of ourselves; Give us an earnest desire to strengthen ourselves continually by study, diligence, prayer, and meditation; And from all fancies, delusions, and prejudices of habit, or temper, or society: Save us and help us, O Lord.

Give us true knowledge of others, in their differences from us and in their likenesses to us, that we may deal with their real selves not measuring their feelings by our own and patiently considering their varied lives and thoughts and circumstances; And in all our dealings with them, from false judgments of our own, from misplaced trust and distrust, from misplaced giving and refusing, from misplaced praise and blame: Save us and help us, O Lord.

Chiefly we pray that we may know you and see you in all your works, always feel your presence near, hear you and know your call: Let your Spirit be our will, your Word, our word; and in all our shortcomings and infirmities, may we have sure faith in your mercy: Save us and help us, O Lord.

Finally, we pray, blot out our past transgressions, heal the evils of our past negligence and ignorance, and help us to amend our past mistakes and misunderstandings; Uplift our hearts to new love, new energy, new devotion, that we may be unburdened from the grief and shame of past unfaithfulness; and go forth in your strength to persevere, through success and failure, through good report and evil report, even to the end; And in all time of our tribulation and in all time of our prosperity: Save us and help us, O Lord.