October 18th

After the Sign of the Cross and the liturgical greeting, the priest invites all who are present to call to mind our sins.  Right at the very beginning of the Mass we pause to examine our consciences and then we ask for God’s mercy.

We know from Scripture that nothing impure will ever enter into the Lord’s all-holy presence.  (cf. Revelation 21:27)  We also know that we all fall short of the glory of God.  (cf. Romans 3:23)  We take a moment, at the beginning of every Mass, to call to mind all those times when we have failed to do God’s will— all the times when we have not loved the Lord with all our hearts, and all the times that we have failed in charity towards our neighbor— and we ask for God’s forgiveness and mercy.

This prayer for mercy is known as the penitential rite and there are several options that the priest may choose use.  One of the options is a prayer known as the Confiteor.  The name of this prayer comes from the first word of the prayer in Latin, which literally means: “I confess”.

In the Confiteor, the priest and the people acknowledge their sins and request prayers from the Blessed Mother, the Angels and Saints in Heaven, as well as from one another.  After all have prayed this prayer, the priest asks that God have mercy upon us and bring us to the everlasting life of Heaven.

We then say (or sing) the Kyrie together.  The priest starts and the people respond.  6 times in a row mercy is beseeched of the Lord.  When we pray: “Lord, have mercy, Christ have mercy, Lord have mercy”, we are not just praying for ourselves.  We are praying also for those around us, who have just asked for our prayers.  (cf. the end of the Confiteor: “I ask . . . you my brothers and sisters to pray for me to the Lord our God.)

It should be noted that the penitential rite does not take the place of sacramental confession.  If we have mortal sin upon our souls, we should always go to Confession before receiving Holy Communion.

The other forms of the penitential rite are shorter, but the object of each one of them is the same: to pray for ourselves and for one another, that we may obtain God’s mercy, and that we may more worthily enter into the sacred mysteries.

God bless,

Father White


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