RP 54: General Confession

mary-the-penitent.jpgLet’s ride the Rite of Penance to the finish line, shall we? Over the weekend, I’ll conclude our examination of the instructions and rubrics connected to the sacrament that causes the most handwringing in Catholicism.

Form II (or III) has a four-part Rite of Reconciliation. I don’t always find that clergy or liturgists follow the rubrics on this, even the ones that are explicit. Often, some items are dropped, including the items the rite insists be done. I’m not sure that priests and liturgists read these rubrics very often, if they ever have. I think most folks just run their communal reconciliations on momentum from the last one they celebrated.

I suspect that many conservative “do the red, say the black” types are as guilty as either their pragmatic brethren who want to get it done in an hour or less, or the much-maligned progressives and their “creativity.”

The next four posts will allow us to look at and discuss these four parts in detail. Following that, we’ll look at General Absolution (RP 60-66) in one gulp.

The reconciliation rite begins with a GENERAL CONFESSION OF SINS led by the deacon (if you have one). The priest ends this general confession with a brief collect.

54. The deacon or another minister invites all to kneel or bow, and to join in saying a general formula for confession (for example, I confess to almighty God). Then they stand and say a litany or sing an appropriate song. The Lord’s Prayer is always added at the end. (emphasis mine)

FIRST EXAMPLE

Deacon or Minister:

My brothers and sisters, confess your sins and pray for each other, that you may be healed.

All say:

I confess to almighty God, and to you, my brothers and sisters, that I have sinned through my own fault (They strike their breast.) 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.

Kneeling is common. The general confession is the Confiteor, a good choice in my opinion. (Note the ritual includes the gesture of striking the breast.) But the rite permits other forms. The rubrics indicate that a litany or song follow immediately. The Lord’s Prayer concludes the general confession.

As for the litany, the rite again gives two examples. Here’s the second choice:

Deacon or minister:

Christ our Savior is our advocate with the Father: with humble hearts let us ask him to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from every stain.

You were sent with good news for the poor and healing for the contrite.

R. Lord, be merciful to me, a sinner. Or: Lord, have mercy.

You came to call sinners, not the just.

R. Lord, be merciful to me, a sinner. Or: Lord, have mercy.

You forgave the many sins of the woman who showed you great love.

R. Lord, be merciful to me, a sinner. Or: Lord, have mercy.

You did not shun the company of outcasts and sin­ners.

R. Lord, be merciful to me, a sinner. Or: Lord, have mercy.

You carried back to the fold the sheep that had ­strayed.

R. Lord, be merciful to me, a sinner. Or: Lord, have mercy.

You did not condemn the woman taken in adultery, but sent her away in peace.

R. Lord, be merciful to me, a sinner. Or: Lord, have mercy.

You called Zacchaeus to repentance and a new life.

R. Lord, be merciful to me, a sinner. Or: Lord, have mercy.

You promised Paradise to the repentant thief.

R. Lord, be merciful to me, a sinner. Or: Lord, have mercy.

You are always interceding for us at the right hand of the Father.

R. Lord, be merciful to me, a sinner. Or: Lord, have mercy.

A song seems a lesser of two choices here, but a nice musical setting for this litany would provide a center for this “general confession.” No composer I know has bothered to set these. Perhaps a reader is aware of one.

Deacon or minister:

Now, in obedience to Christ himself, let us join in prayer to the Father, asking him to forgive us as we forgive others.

 

All say together:

Our Father . . .

The priest concludes:

Father, our source of life, you know our weakness. May we reach out with joy to grasp your hand and walk more readily in your ways. We ask this through Christ our Lord.

R. Amen.

For other texts see numbers 202-205.

How does your parish size up? How much of this is omitted? I’ve seen the Lord’s Prayer removed to the concluding rites more often than used where the rubrics instruct. Is it a big point? Or just liturgical fussbudgetry?

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About catholicsensibility

Todd and his family live in Ames, Iowa. He serves a Catholic parish of both Iowa State students and town residents.
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