Confession and Confiteor
In our present age, perhaps more than ever, it is difficult for us to listen and accept God’s plan. As Catholics and Christians, we often need to re-evaluate our thoughts, words and actions in order to stay true to what God is calling us to do. Just as the Holy Family, Jesus, our Lady and her beloved spouse, St. Joseph taught us by their holy lives, we should fully submit ourselves to the will of the Almighty Father. Even when we fail to understand life and the changes set before us, we must constantly give of ourselves and out of love, have an eagerness to do God’s will.
Sin and selfishness blind us from the Truth and our faith often becomes lukewarm. “The root of sin is in the heart of man, in his free will…but in the heart also resides charity, the source of the good and pure works, which sin wounds.” This statement from the Catechism of the Catholic Church(n.1853) should call us back to lives of holiness, aided most especially by the Sacraments of Confession and the Holy Eucharist. These two Sacraments have similarities in form throughout, most especially found within the penitential rite of Holy Mass.
The new English translation of the Confiteor conveys a renewal of prayer in supplication, restoring a deeper sense of gravity for our sins. This is a good example of how the earlier translations from the 1970s decidedly dropped words that were a continuity of Sacred tradition. Peccavi nimis, translated as I have greatly sinned, will now be restored. Next, we see the syntax is kept in proper order, humbling us to express how we have sinned in thoughts, words, what we have done and failed to do. This is so important for us to comprehend: before we make our act of penitence, we must acknowledge our sinfulness. As discussed previously, it is much a different thing to “call to mind our sins” than it is to confess with full contemplation, knowledge and sincerity, and then truthfully desire to not sin again.
Think about when we go to the Sacrament of Reconciliation. After a thorough examination of conscience and a willful regret of sin through personal contrition, we confess our sin in name and number, receive penance, make our act of contrition, receive the absolution, and carry out our penance. The Confiteor at Mass does not have the same graces and remission of Mortal sin as the Sacrament of Penance, yet our thought process should be similar. We should examine our lives, willfully regret our wrongdoing, resolve to not sin again, and confess to Almighty God our sin. Our act of contrition, the tri-fold mea culpa allows for a sincere repentance of heart. It is not merely unnecessary repetition, instead we participate in liturgical action by striking our breast in humility. We then ask for the prayers of our blessed and ever-virgin Mother, traditionally to St. Michael the Archangel, St. John the Baptist, the holy Apostles Ss. Peter and Paul—ordinarily gathered into the collective prayer of “all the Angels and Saints”—and petition our faithful brothers and sisters for prayers to God. We then receive the absolution of venial sins. Note again the new translation’s proper syntax: “May Almighty God…lead us, with our sins forgiven, to eternal life.”
Although these changes are simple in perusal, it brings a greater sense of fullness to the thoughts and actions of the Liturgy. Let us continue to study these new texts with open minds and joyful hearts, giving praise to Almighty God for sending His Son and giving us the Holy Catholic Church!