Thursday, December 17, 2015


When the traditional order of the Mass was changed in its revision, a misunderstanding of what the Kyrie is meant to be came about.

Technically, the EF's Prayers at the Foot of the Altar are a prelude to the Mass, not integral. Technically these are private devotional prayers of the priests and ministers. The revision of the Traditional Mass sought to cleanse from it any and all devotional prayers of the  priest and minister as though these were somehow harmful to the communal aspect of the Mass. What a stupid mentality!

Thus the PATFOTA became the Penitential Act for everyone.Unfortunately more options were given that then destroyed what the Kyrie is meant to be as it was in the Traditional Mass.

If the Penitential Rite has simply been Form A or B, it would have been just fine and the Kyrie's true place and meaning would have been preserved. Form A is the Confiteor with the absolution and then the Kyrie. Form B is "Have mercy on us O Lord; For we have sinned against you. Show us, O Lord, your mercy; and grant us your salvation" followed by the Kyrie.

Not leaving good enough alone, Form C destroys the traditional place of the Kyrie and turns it into the Penitential Act which traditionally it is not. For C has a variety of options in and of itself, most found in the Appendix of the Missal. In this form there is a statement followed by part of the Kyrie:
"You were sent...Lord have Mercy; You came to call sinners...Christ have mercy; You are seated at the right hand...Lord have mercy" which is then followed by the absolution which destroys the integrity of the traditional place of the Kyrie which always follows the penitential act but is not a part of it.

For example, the Kyrie follows the PATFOTA in the Traditional Mass and is prayed at the altar itself but after the Introit. Thus the PATFOTA with their many absolutions are seen as seperate from the Mass's beginning. Not so in the untraditional revision of the Mass.

In fact, when Form C was first implemented in the 1970 Missal, it was allowed for priests and worship committees to make up their own versions which became like an examination of conscience. So sins were added to the tropes. One example is:  Lord Jesus, we have committed extortion, Lord have mercy. Lord Jesus we have committed adultery, Christ have mercy. Lord Jesus we fail the poor. Lord have mercy." I hope this doesn't occur anywhere today.

To confuse things even more as it concerns the Kyrie, when the Rite of Blessing and Sprinkling Holy Waters is used, it replaces the Penitential act altogether and also the freestanding Kyrie. Wrong! Wrong! Wrong! Very nontraditional.

Masses at the Vatican with the Pope have rectified this. When the Rite of Blessing and Sprinkling Holy Water is chosen, following its unique absolution (truly a new nontraditional concoction) the free standing Kyrie is nonetheless employed as it should be. This is traditional.

And now with the revision of the Roman Missal's vernacular the Nuptial Mass no longer has a Penitential Act. After the Sign of the Cross and Greeting, there will be a new introductory statement concerning Holy Matrimony and then the Gloria is sung (which was not prescribed in the older versions of the nontraditional Mass). The Gloria was sung the Nuptial Mass of the Traditional Mass but the vows were prior to the beginning of the Mass. After the vows, the Nuptial Mass began with the PATFOTA and then the priest ascended to the altar for the Introit, Kyrie, Gloria, Greeting and Collect. 

We have implemented the new requirement that the Penitential Act be omitted from the Nuptial Mass in its nontraditional Order.  We now chant the Gloria. However, since the Kyrie is not a penitential act when chanted or said in its freestanding form, it is sung or said immediately after the introductory words of the  priest. The Kyrie is immediately followed by the Gloria and Collect.

Keep in mind, the Kyrie in its freestanding form is never omitted from any Mass even though the Penitential Act might be eliminated.

And as it concerns the Nuptial Mass, the Rite of Blessing and Sprinkling Holy Water can still be employed as an option followed by the Kyrie, Gloria and Collect even in the nontraditional Order of Mass which is the Ordinary Form.


Anonymous said...

Father you need to go to Rome and have a long meeting with Cardinal Sarah and present your impressions and opinions. I don't agree with you and your endless justifications for the scandal that is Francis but you clearly love the Church and her liturgy and I respect that. Francis could care less about the liturgy but Cardinal Sarah does and probably anything he proposes will be rubber stamped by Francis if presented correctly. Something drastic needs to be done about the liturgical abuses. Why don't you write and request a meeting?

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

I don't understand what you are saying. Is there a difference in meaning/purpose between the Kyrie and Penitential Act? Aren't they dedicated to the same goal - acknowledgement of our sinful unworthiness and our need for God's redemptive grace?

GIRM 52 says the Kyrie is "...a chant by which the faithful acclaim the Lord and implore his mercy..."

Isn't that what we are doing with the Penitential Act as well.

If, then, the two are combined, the same goal or purpose seems to me to be retained.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Former PI:
Is the Kyrie part of the Penitential Rite?
published 24 February 2014 by Jeff Ostrowski

MANY PRIESTS BELIEVE the Kyrie Eleison (“Lord, have mercy”) to be part of the Penitential Rite, but that’s incorrect. The only time the Kyrie is part of the Penitential Rite is when the priest chooses Option C 1 — the one that begins:

“You were sent to heal the contrite of heart: Lord, have mercy … etc.”

The first proof is GIRM #46. Notice how the Kyrie is distinguished from the Penitential Act:

The rites that precede the Liturgy of the Word, namely, the Entrance, the Greeting, the Penitential Act, the Kyrie, the Gloria in excelsis (Glory to God in the highest) and Collect, have the character of a beginning, an introduction, and a preparation.

The second proof is GIRM #52. Obviously something that comes after the Penitential Rite is not part of that Rite:

After the Penitential Act, the Kyrie, eleison (Lord, have mercy), is always begun, unless it has already been part of the Penitential Act.

The third proof is the Ceremonial of Bishops #255, which says on Ash Wednesday:

The introductory rites of the Mass and, as circumstances suggest, also the Kyrie are omitted, and the bishop immediately says the opening prayer.

The fourth proof is GIRM #125. The Kyrie is once again distinguished from the Penitential Act:

The Penitential Act follows. After this, the Kyrie is sung or said, in accordance with the rubrics (cf. no. 52).

The fifth proof is the Roman Missal, Third Edition, which says for Ash Wednesday (Stational) and Palm Sunday:

Omitting the Introductory Rites and, if appropriate, the Kyrie, he says the Collect of the Mass, and then continues the Mass in the usual way.

WHY, THEN, is the Kyrie so often wrongly omitted? Especially at Weddings (Nuptial Mass) the Kyrie is wrongly omitted. I don’t know the answer, but my guess is that most priests believe the Kyrie is part of the Penitential Act.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Exploring the Relationship between the Penitential Act and Kyrie at Mass

by USCCB Committee on Divine Worship

The relationshp at Mass between the Penitential Act and the chant Kyrie eleison is somewhat unique, requiring careful discernment to determine when either or both of these parts are included or omitted. The General Instruction of the Roman Missal [GIRM], nos.46, 51-52, 125 and 258, treats the Kyrie as separate from the Penitential Act proper in no. 52:

After the Penitential Act, the Kyrie eleison (Lord, have mercy), is always begun, unless it has already been part of the Penitential Act. Since it is a chant by which the faithful acclaim the Lord and implore his mercy, it is usually executed by everyone, that is to say, with the people abd the choir or cantor taking part in it.
II. Omitting the Penitential Act but Keeping the Kyrie as an Option

There are six examples of omitting the Penitential Act but still allowing the Kyrie to be used. Two come from the Ceremonial of Bishops [CB], the "Reception of the Bishop in his Cathedral Church" (no. 1143) and the " Investiture with the Pallium" (no. 1155). The remaining four examples are in the Roman Missal, namely, Ash Wednesday (including any statonal procession furing Lent), Palm Sunday, the extended form of the Vigil Mass for Pentecost, and the combining of Mass with Morning Prayer or Evening Prayer. In all these examples, the rubrics say more or less the same thing, that the Penitential Act is omitted, "and, if appropriate, the Kyrie …"

Slightly different are the first two examples from the Missal. Both Ash Wednesday and Palm Sunday foresee, where possible, a solemn procession from a separate place to the church of celebration. The Ash Wednesday (and Lenten) procession calls for a Litany of the Saints to be chanted, which normally includes a Kyrie chant. While the Palm Sunday procession does not require the same Litany, it does prescribe "suitable chants in honor of Christ the King." It seems, then, that the Kyrie becomes optionally in these circumstances because of a solemn procession that would normally include a Kyrie or related chant. The papal Mass for the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord in 2014 supports this reasoning. The rubrics for the feast day do not explicitly state that the Penitential Act is omitted, but otherwise imply that it is, following the logic mentioned above that when something additional takes place at the beginning of Mass, the Penitential Act is omitted. Neither do the rubrics mention anything about the Kyrie, but the papal Mass, having omitted the Penitential Act, included a Kyrie (again, following the logic that a solemn procession may be concluded with a Kyrie).

The example of the Pentecost Vigil Mass has the same rubrics given for the combination of Mass with Morning or Evening Prayer: "After the Psalmody, omitting the Penitential Act, and if appropriate, the Kyrie …" (Pentecost Vigil Mass, no.2; cf. General Instruction of the Liturgy of the Hours, nos. 94-95). The Psalms have traditionally been understood in a spritual sense to prefigure the suffering Christ and thus they fittingly take the place of the Penitential Act. In this case, the Kyrie serves, optionally, as a fitting conclusion to the Psalmody, similar to how the "Christ, hear us" chant sometimes concludes the Litany of the Saints in a Christological key.

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

Do I have this right? The Penitential Act and the Kyrie are two, separate elements of the mass that, while different elements, have the same purpose/goal?

And, if they are, at times, combined, "The only time the Kyrie is part of the Penitential Rite is when the priest chooses Option C 1 — the one that begins: 'You were sent to heal the contrite of heart: Lord, have mercy … etc.'" what's your complaint?

As to the number of choices available for the Penitential Act, I have found that Appendix VI, Sample Invocations for the Penitential Act, II, is especially appropriate for the Advent season: Lord Jesus you are mighty God and Prince of Peace... Lord Jesus, you are Son of God and Son of Mary...Lord Jesus, you are Word made flesh and splendor of the Father.

Speaking of repentance, I hope that the person at the USCCB who was responsible for writing, "The relationship at Mass between the Penitential Act and the chant Kyrie eleison is somewhat unique..." has been to confession for attempting to modify "unique."


John Nolan said...

These invocations are faint echoes of the tropes which were commonly inserted into the nine-fold Kyrie from the 8th century onwards. They were Latin texts which 'fleshed out' the melismas on the Greek syllables. Mass I is still known as Lux et Origo since the opening trope was 'Lux et origo lucis, summe Deus, eleison'.

Unlike the modern version there are nine tropes, not merely three, and only the middle three are specifically addressed to the Son, which makes sense since we are praying Christe eleison at this point. All tropes were removed by the Council of Trent.

Louis Bouyer is critical of the Penitential Act in the new Mass, and also the Offertory: 'But what can I say, at a time when the talk was of simplifying the liturgy and of bringing it back to primitive models, about this actus poenitentialis inspired by Father Jungmann (an excellent historian of the Roman Missal - but who, in his entire life, had never celebrated a Solemn Mass!)? The worst of it was an impossible offertory, in a Catholic Action, sentimental "workerist" style, the handiwork of Father Cellier, who with tailor-made arguments manipulated the despicable Bugnini in such a way that his production went through despite nearly unanimous opposition.' (Memoirs, pp220-221)

Rood Screen said...

The goal of the Kyrie is petition and intercession, not repentance, although one may intercede for mercy in the form of forgiveness. "Kyrie eleison" is also a possible response during the Bidding Prayers, thus highlighting the ancient origins of this invocation.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Thank you JBS your description is the most concise one thus far and the one I was taught in the 1970's seminary which understood even then that when using the Kyrie with tropes, one was not to use it as an examination of conscience or a sign of repentance which priests were freewheeling along with the almighty liturgy committees of parishes in concocting silly additions to the Mass.

The worst offences went something like this:

Lord Jesus we failed to feed the poor. Lord have mercy.
Lord Jesus we have adulterous hearts. Christ have mercy.
Lord Jesus, we have used your name in vain. Lord have mercy.

Rather, and the Roman Missal's text have it right, it should be:

Lord Jesus you are mighty God and Prince of Peace. Lord have mercy.
Lord Jesus you are Son of God and Son of Mary. Christ have mercy.
Lord Jesus you are Word made Flesh and splendor of the Father. Lord have mercy.

The only problem with this for of the Kyrie is that the absolution comes after the Kyrie and not before. The Kyrie should be a response even to the absolution. Thus the nontraditional Mass has its flaws and needs revision.