SAU CFDD
Jan 062010
 

Father Hai Dinh recites the Penitential Act during a Mass at St. Paul the Apostle Church in Davenport Jan. 5. (Photo by Anne Marie Amacher)

By Deacon Frank Agnoli

After the greeting of the Mass (covered in the last article), we enter into the Penitential Act. Just as we have now, the new Roman Missal will contain three options, which follow the priest’s introduction. (See comparison of current and new texts at the end of this article.)

Form A is the Confiteor, or “I confess.” The first change that we’ll notice is that the word “greatly” has returned to its place before “sinned,” better reflecting the scriptural origins of this text (1 Chronicles 21:8). The second important change is that we are more accurately translating the three-fold repetition of “fault.” In the English translations that we are currently using, more complex Latin constructs were simplified (for example, adjectives dropped) and shortened (for example, phrases combined or eliminated).  As a result, we lost some of their poetic quality. In the case of this prayer, a triple repetition is a way of referring to something in the superlative — like adding “very” in front of or “-est” to the end of a word. The triple repetition is a way of unambiguously acknowledging personal responsibility when it comes to our sins.

Form B is not often used; the new translation helps us see that this option is intended to be a dialogue, or exchange, between the priest and the people. The current translation did not make that characteristic very clear. In addition, one can more easily see its origins in Baruch 3:2 (first exchange) and Psalm 85:8 (v. 7 in some translations; second exchange).

We are probably most familiar with form C — the three invocations, followed in turn with “Lord, have mercy / Christ, have mercy / Lord, have mercy.” The new Missal will give us a new translation as an example, but will also continue to allow for the use of other invocations (as long as the model is followed).  The U.S. adaptation to the Order of Mass (not yet approved) adds the seven additional formulas that we now have to choose from.

The so-called “absolution” follows all three forms of the penitential act.  The new translation makes it clear that this is not sacramental absolution (as in the sacrament of penance and reconciliation); we are not praying that God forgive our sins at this moment but that, having celebrated Eucharist, God will lead us with our sins forgiven to life everlasting.

Because forms A and B do not include the three-fold “Lord, have mercy,” this response follows those versions of the Act of Penitence. The English or the original Greek — Kyrie eleison, Christe eleison, Kyrie eleison — may be used.

(Deacon Agnoli is director of liturgy for the Diocese of Davenport.)

The Penitential Act

Present Text

PRIEST:

My brothers and sisters, to prepare ourselves to celebrate the sacred mysteries, let us call to mind our sins.

FORM A

I confess to almighty God, and to you, my brothers and sisters, that I have sinned through my own fault, in my thoughts and in my words, in what I have done,and in what I have failed to do; and I ask blessed Mary, ever virgin, all the angels and saints, and you, my brothers and sisters, to pray for me to the Lord, our God.

FORM B

Priest: Lord, we have sinned against you: Lord, have mercy.

People: Lord, have mercy.

Priest: Lord, show us your mercy and love.

People: And grant us your salvation. 

FORM C

You were sent to heal the contrite:

Lord, have mercy.

You came to call sinners:

Christ, have mercy.

You plead for us at the right hand of the Father: Lord, have mercy.

PRIEST:

May almighty God have mercy on us, forgive us our sins, and bring us to everlasting life.

New Text

PRIEST:

Brethren (brothers and sisters), let us acknowledge our sins, that we may prepare ourselves to celebrate the sacred mysteries. 

FORM A

I confess to almighty God and to you, my brothers and sisters, that I have greatly sinned in my thoughts and in my words, in what I have done and in what I have failed to do, through my fault, through my fault, through my most grievous fault; therefore I ask blessed Mary ever-Virgin, all the Angels and Saints, and you, my brothers and sisters, to pray for me to the Lord our God.

FORM B

Priest: Have mercy on us, O Lord.

People: For we have sinned against you.

Priest: Show us, O Lord, your mercy.

People: And grant us your salvation.

FORM C

You were sent to heal the contrite of heart:

 Lord, have mercy.

You came to call sinners:

Christ, have mercy.

You are seated at the right hand of the Father to intercede for us:

Lord, have mercy.

PRIEST:

May almighty God have mercy on us and lead us, with our sins forgiven, into eternal life.

If form A or B is used, the Kyrie follows:

PRIEST:

Lord, have mercy.

PEOPLE:

Lord, have mercy.

PRIEST:

Christ, have mercy.

PEOPLE:

Christ, have mercy.

PRIEST:

Lord, have mercy.

PEOPLE:

Lord, have mercy.

Previous columns in this series:

New translation will follow Latin words and syntax http://www.catholicmessenger.org/articles/2009/11/11/news/doc4afb09a800f40193913489.txt

History of liturgical languages and how the new Missal is being translated http://www.catholicmessenger.org/articles/2009/11/18/diocesan_news/doc4b044ad83cc5a503246261.txt

Examining objections to the new Missal http://www.catholicmessenger.org/articles/2009/11/24/news/doc4b0c3fb823bf0107190851.txt

New missal keeps us on path set by Vatican II http://www.catholicmessenger.org/articles/2009/12/02/diocesan_news/doc4b16b7c10dd90485736636.txt

New missal translation is theologically richer http://www.catholicmessenger.org/articles/2009/12/09/diocesan_news/doc4b1fe01341251735833669.txt

Changes to the opening prayer under new missal http://www.catholicmessenger.org/articles/2009/12/16/diocesan_news/doc4b28fdf967524438274059.txt

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