Of all the stops on this Lenten journey, this is perhaps the most difficult. It strikes at the heart of identity and shame. It peels back the polite layers and uncovers hidden places in our hearts. It is tempting to not pray in the first person, to pray in generalities. But this temptation is so pervasive in our culture, and so virulent in its power to destroy, that I must take the risk. You will find me here - not everywhere, but somewhere. Perhaps you will also courageously find yourself. And if you do, would you join me at the foot of the cross where confession and forgiveness lead to repentance and newness of life?
Oh God, creator of all we are as persons - desires, hopes, dreams, longings, bodies - all. Forgive me for the many ways I reduce myself and my fellow travelers to objects in my hungry quest for false satisfaction.
Forgive me for the secret fantasies which turn people into property for my satisfaction. Forgive me for the way that, in my quest for love I settle so easily for lust - satisfying a deep thirst with the salty water of ongoing longing. Forgive me the second long look which turns beauty into a collection of parts. Forgive me for the hidden sins of the mind where elaborately constructed fantasy of relationship prevent me from investing fully in the gifts you have given in those around me. Forgive me the continual obsession with unreachable perfection - in myself and in others, a conforming to the world's ways that surely results in the crushing death of collapsing possibilities. Forgive me the deceptions and justifications which allow me to go where I should not go and see what I should not see.
O Lord, please help me to invest in the hard, self-sacrificing choices of love rather than to take the shortcuts of lust which lead me where I don't want to go. Teach me the unspeakable value of myself and my fellow travelers so I am not tempted to regard myself or them as anything less than the image of God. Grant me modesty of thought and the ability to blush without shame at things which ought not be spoken. Give me courage and strength to turn away.
O Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.