Tuesday, January 24, 2023



The new liturgical book for the Sacrament of Penance is coming out soon.

 Its first use date is Ash Wednesday, February 22, 2023. Its mandatory use date is the Second Sunday of Easter or Divine Mercy Sunday, April 16, 2023, after this date no other English translation may be used.

There are no bombshells, but the one that came out in the 1970’s was horrible and no one used what was printed for private confession (individual) and most stayed with the pre-Vatican II format.

The status quo is basically the same, but the full words of absolution have been somewhat revised.

Here’s the new and glorious English translation of the Absolution: 

God, the Father of mercies, through the Death and Resurrection of his Son has reconciled the world to himself and poured out the Holy Spirit for the forgiveness of sins; through the ministry of the Church may God grant you pardon and peace. AND I ABSOLVE YOU FROM YOUR SINS, IN THE NAME OF THE FATHER, AND OF THE SON, + AND OF THE HOLY SPIRIT. Amen.

Here’s the old and inglorious English translation of the Absolution:

God the Father of mercies, through the death and resurrection of his Son has reconciled the world to himself and sent the Holy Spirit among us for the forgiveness of sins; through the ministry of the Church may God give you pardon and peace, and I absolve you from your sins in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

There are still a variety of Acts of Contrition that the penitent can pray but a version of the traditional Act of Contrition is now included which was omitted in the 1970’s liturgical book. This prayer, even in Vatican II times, had a variety of improvisations and the penitent can still use those along with the archaic “Thee and art”. 

O my God, I am heartily sorry for having offended you, and I detest all my sins because of your just punishments, but most of all because they offend you, my God, who are all good and deserving of all my love. I firmly resolve, with the help of your grace, to sin no more and to avoid the near occasions of sin. Amen.

Of course, penitents are not limited to the options provided in the Order of Penance, and are free to express their sorrow with other prayers or even in their own words.

In terms of the liturgical celebration of the Sacrament of Penance, usually celebrated during Lent and Advent, the order is simplified and only one reading need to be read rather than the full panoply of readings you would have at a Sunday Mass. 

The basic structure of each Order is presented here, in parallel columns for the sake of comparison:

  Order for Reconciling Individual Penitents

I. Reception of the Penitent

II. Reading of the Word of God (optional)

III. Confession of Sins and Acceptance of Satisfaction

IV. Prayer of the Penitent (Act of Contrition)  and Absolution 

V. Proclamation of Praise of God and Dismissal of the Penitent

Order for Reconciling Several Penitents with Individual Confession and Absolution

I. The Introductory Rites • Liturgical Song • Greeting

• Prayer

II. The Celebration of the Word of God • Reading(s)

• Homily

• Examination of Conscience

III. The Rite of Reconciliation

• General Confession of Sins

• Individual Confession and Absolution

• Proclamation of Praise for God’s Mercy • Concluding Prayer of Thanksgiving

IV. The Concluding Rites

• Blessing and Dismissal



Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

I think I have heard eleventy-three hundred "versions" of the act of contrition in my 37 years of hearing confeseions.

ByzRus said...

Fr. MJK, I think I could add one to your list....late 70's vintage. Only one I can remember readily.

Mike Lutz said...

Act of Contrition circa 1955 as taught to us by the good sisters:

Oh My God, I am heartily sorry for having offended Thee.
And I detest all my sins, because I dread the loss of Heaven and the pains of Hell.
But most of all, because I have offended thee, my God, who art all good and deserving of all my love,
I firmly resolve, with Thy help of Thy grace, to confess my sins, to do penance, and to amend my life.

TJM said...

Bishops and priests who vote for the Party of Moloch should be denied absolution. They mock God

From Fr. Khouri said...

Father, I'm not sure how "poured out" and "grant" make the text more glorious.
It seems to me that this is rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic. Yes, "lex orandi lex credendi" but what difference do these word changes make to better express orthodox faith?

Mary said...

I say the Act of Contrition that I was taught in Grade 1 - 1956. I also say - Bless me Father for I have sinned. It’s been ?? Since my last confession and these are my sins. Too old to start changing things up now.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Mary, the 1970 version of the revision of individual confession did not work and was not implemented by most priests and penitents although I know I tried and many other priests tried. It simply did not work.

Most penitents today go to private confession as you do. “Bless me father for I have sinned. Most older Catholics and many younger Catholics say the traditional act of Contrition as Mike Lutz describes it and so do I. But even in pre-Vatican II times there were variations on it as the new rite now has.

The only charge I see happening is that the priest, if he remembers, has to change one word in the longer from of absolution, “poured out” instead of “grant.” No big deal. “Pour out” conjures up a different image in my imagination than “grant” which is more juridical sounding to me, where as pour out, reminds me of our baptismal washing. Not sure what the Latin word is from which we find an equivalent English in either forms.

Fr. Dismas Sayre, O.P. said...

It would be even *more* glorious if they returned to capitalize the "H" in "his/him" for God.

TJM said...

I have fond memories of the priest giving the absolution in Latin!