Re-petition in the Roman Missal:  Repetitio Mater Memoriae


Repetition is an important part of being Catholic.  The Most Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, the Divine Offices, and prayer in general are replete with repetition.  Repetition is necessary, and why should we want to ever cease praising God, in company with His Angels and Saints?   Meditation through the intercession of the Saints should be our daily guide, especially through the assistance of Our Blessed Mother.  Mary, as said by St. Thomas Aquinas, holds an “infinite dignity from the infinite good which is God.”  Repetition is the mother of memory, why should not our devotion to Jesus through His Mother be perpetual and eternal?  Reflection and meditation upon the Sacred Mysteries by use of Divinely-inspired texts is an important truth of our lives as Catholics. 


This subject of repetition in prayer is an important one in the new translation of the Roman Missal.  The penitential act has been translated with some seemingly small changes, although it characterizes the intent of remaining more consistent with the Latin.  It simplifies the text to include only one written option for the priest’s introduction:  “Brethren(brothers and sisters),let us acknowledge our sins,that we may prepare ourselves to celebrate the sacred mysteries.”  In addition, we see the reintroduction of the tri-fold “mea culpa” in the Confiteor:  “through my fault, through my fault,through my most grievous fault…,” placing a greater focus on this act of repentance, as well as remaining true to the syntactical pattern. 


The Gloria contains similar repetitions worthy of our memory and meditation.  While “peace to His people on earth” certainly gives glory to God in a simple way, “and on earth peace to people of good will” includes a more complete explanation of man’s volition, and our acceptance of peace in accordance with the state of our soul.  A truly inspirational idea, this phrase reminds us of the importance of our actions, not only in the eternal reward of Heaven or Hell, but also in the call for us to live lives worthy of God’s gift of peace in this life.  God will grant peace to all who open their hearts to the Prince of peace.


There is great meaning behind the order of the “litany” of praising which follows the Latin.  To “give God thanks for His great glory,” we should first give God praise, blessing, adoration and glorification.  This is a beautiful metaphor for the structure of the Holy Mass: praise of God in the Gloria; blessing by the Sacred Word; adoration at the Canon in which the most respectful response is awe-inspired silence; glorification in the Consecration; and the great thanksgiving in reception of the Most Holy Body and Blood in the Eucharist. 



The final paragraph of the Gloria mostly remains the same, although it continues to clarify and retain the integrity of the Latin.  The “Only Begotten Son” who is seated at the right hand of the Father, is the eternal judge, therefore we repeat the invocation for mercy.  Mercy, prayer, and mercy again constitutes a formula not unlike that of the Sacrament of Reconciliation. 


May this desire to pray the texts of the Mass with greater meditation draw us closer to Jesus each day.