Ash Wednesday: Litany for Fasting

This litany is based upon references from the Lectionary readings for Ash Wednesday, Year B.

God, it is for the sake of the New Kingdom which Christ began,
For the sake of Heaven,
That we practice the disciplines of faith.
That we fast (1)
That we give charitably (2)
That we pray. (3)

We do these in hopes that our minds will be transformed
Our hearts enlightened (4),
Making us more in sync with your work
And aligned with your mission.

We remember that we are made of dust
And will return to it.
We remember that out of our ashes
You bring beauty.
We remember that out of our mourning,
You begin gladness. (5)

We don’t fast for the sake of human ambition.
We fast for your eyes only, for your goals only (6):
to loose the bonds of injustice,
to undo the thongs of the yoke,
to let the oppressed go free,
to cancel every debt. (7)
For ourselves,
And for all people.

For our hope is in the new paradigm
Which you imagined and set in motion (8):
The beautiful way
The path of peace (9).


1) Matthew 6:16
2) Matthew 6:2
3) Matthew 6:5
4) Ephesians 1:18
5) Isaiah 61:13
6) Matthew 6:1
7) Isaiah 58:6
8) Isaiah 58:11,12
9) Luke 1:79

Litany for Ash Wednesday (Year A)

Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of the season of Lent, in which people of faith set aside time to fast and reflect upon the state of ourselves. It's a time of humility, and of facing the truth that we are imperfect and fall short and need the grace of God to meet us, not shying away from what we must deal with before we can grow. Many of us smear ashes on our heads on this day, as a symbol of our humility and contrition. This litany references several of the day's Lectionary passages.

Oh God, our wrongdoing is ever before us
Our complicity in systems of injustice
Our tendency to validate falsehoods
Our sloth about love
Our willingness to be constantly entertained and never quiet
Our egos, violence, and idolatry.
These things only begin to describe our transgressions.
We are none of us immune to them. (1)
We have done harm
And left good undone.

We devote ourselves in this season
To cleaning up our messes;(2)
Both inward, of our deepest hearts;
And outward, of our societies and relationships.
Show us our own selves,
That we may become transformed
And by repentance and contrition
Re-make the world with you. (3)

We are deep in need of grace.
Have mercy on us, oh God. (4)


Joel 2:12,13
(2) Psalm 51:10
(3) Isaiah 58:6-8
(4) Psalm 51:1


Litany for Ash Wednesday

Tomorrow is Ash Wednesday, which marks the beginning of Lent. Congregants wear a smudge of ash on their foreheads to symbolize repentance and fasting, and commence the season of preparation for Easter.

Oh God, we are reminded this day of the temporality of our lives here on the earth.
We are dust and to dust we will return.
It is by your Spirit and your power that we are given life.
You are the source of all hope and life.

We enter now a season of repentance.
That we may turn from selfishness.
We set aside some comforts
That we may turn our attention to Your holiness.
Cast now our transgressions far from us
As far is the east is from the west.

We mourn the profound disconnection from You that happened at the dawn of humankind.
Bring us back into Your presence.
We rejoice in the perfect work of Christ on earth.
Christ reconciles us to You.

Prepare our hearts, Oh God, for Resurrection life.
You bring beauty from ashes.
Prepare our hearts for the joy of Your coming.
You bring gladness from mourning.
Prepare our hearts for the fullness of Your presence.
You bring forth praise from despair.