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  History:   #6(a) – Penitential Rite

     The Confiteor ( I confess to Almighty God) said by the priest at the foot of the altar was also said prior to the distribution of the Eucharist. In both instances these were private rather than public prayers. Much discussion took place as to where a penitential rite should take place. It was decided to place a simple penitential rite at the beginning of the celebration. In a way this decision reflects both scripture and tradition. In Matthew 5:23-25 Christ calls for reconciliation with others before offering sacrifice. Moreover, an ancient document known as the Didache states that on the Lord’s day people are to come together to break bread and to give thanks “after first confessing their sins” so that the sacrifice will be pure.

     The rite has a four part-structure. This means there is a variety of choices that can be used. After an invitation requesting the community to recall its sinfulness, there is a period of silent reflection. A common proclamation that all are sinners before God follows. This may be a shorter and more simplified form of the traditional Confiteor or one of two sets of invocations addressed to Christ and incorporated in the Kyrie. The priest concludes with a prayer requesting forgiveness.

General Instruction of the Roman Missal (The Church’s Textbook)

29. … Then the priest invites the congregation to take part in the penitential rite, which is a general confession made by the entire assembly and is concluded by the priest’s absolution.

23. Silence should be observed at designated times as part of the celebration.


 In the penitential rite the whole assembly, proclaiming itself sinful before God, manifests that it is a community ever converting, ever in need of reconciliation with God and others.

Questions for Reflection:

 1.  What is the purpose of the penitential rite?

 2.  How do I bring both my faults, failings, griefs and sorrows to each celebration of the Eucharist?

 3.  Do I pay attention to the need to pray for others when they ask me to do so in the rite?

Scripture:  Matt. 5:23-25

Next week we will look at the changes in the New Translation