Penitential Rite

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Confiteor said by the priest at a Solemn Mass

In Roman Catholicism and Lutheranism, the Penitential Rite, also known as Confession and Absolution, is a form of general confession that takes place at the start of each Divine Service or Mass.

Usage in Roman Catholicism[edit]

Formulas of general confession in the Ordinary Form[edit]

All: I confess to almighty God,
and to you, my brothers and sisters,
that I have greatly sinned
in my thoughts and in my words,
in what I have done,
and in what I have failed to do;
through my fault
through my fault
through my most grievous fault
Therefore, I ask blessed Mary, ever virgin,
all the angels and saints,
and you, my brothers and sisters,
to pray for me to the Lord our God.

Priest: May almighty God have mercy on us, forgive us our sins, and bring us to everlasting life. Amen.

  • Formula B:

Priest: Have mercy on us, Lord.
Congregation: For we have sinned against you.
Priest: Show us, O Lord, your mercy.
Congregation: And grant us your salvation.

  • Formula C (said or sung by the deacon or priest, or sung by a cantor):

Minister: You were sent to heal the contrite (or a similar invocation): Lord, have mercy.
Congregation: Lord, have mercy.
Minister: You came to call sinners (or a similar invocation): Christ, have mercy.
Congregation: Christ, have mercy.
Minister: You plead for us at the right hand of the Father (or a similar invocation): Lord, have mercy.
Congregation: Lord, have mercy.

In all cases, the formula of absolution that follows is:

Priest: May almighty God have mercy on us, forgive us our sins, and bring us to everlasting life.
Congregation: Amen.

The Penitential Acts follows the entrance of the priest (ideally to the sound of the entrance antiphon or a hymn), and his greeting of the altar (which he kisses) and of the people (with a formula such as "The Lord be with you").[1] In turn it is followed by the Kyrie eleison (unless the third of the three formulas, which incorporates the Kyrie, has been chosen as the Penitential Act), the Gloria (if used), and the Collect, which concludes the Introductory Rites.[2]

When certain celebrations are combined with Mass the Penitential Act, as well as other parts of the Introductory Rites, is omitted or performed in a different way.[3] An example is the Mass of Ash Wednesday, in which the blessing and imposition of ashes, after the homily, replaces the Penitential Act at the beginning.

"On Sundays, especially in the Season of Easter, in place of the customary Penitential Act, from time to time the Blessing and Sprinkling of Water to recall Baptism may take place."[4]

Pre-1970 Roman Missal[edit]

In the Tridentine Mass the Confiteor prayer, part of the Prayers at the Foot of the Altar, is spoken first by the priest:

Confíteor Deo omnipoténti, beátæ Maríæ semper Vírgini, beáto Michaéli Archángelo, beáto Ioánni Baptístæ, sanctis Apóstolis Petro et Páulo, ómnibus Sanctis, et vobis, fratres: quia peccávi nimis cogitatióne, verbo, et ópere: (beats his breast thrice) mea culpa, mea culpa, mea máxima culpa. Ideo precor beátam Maríam semper Virginem, beátum Michaélem Archángelum, beátum Ioánnem Baptístam, sanctos Apóstolos Petrum et Páulum, omnes Sanctos, et vos, fratres, oráre pro me ad Dóminum Deum nostrum.

Deacon and subdeacon at a solemn Mass, server(s) at a low Mass, or server(s) and people at a dialogue Mass respond:

Misereátur tui omnípotens Deus, et dimíssis peccátis tuis, perdúcat te ad vitam ætérnam.

The priest answers: "Amen".

The others then, on their part, recite the Confiteor, replacing "vobis fratres" and "vos fratres" with "tibi pater" and "te pater" respectively. The Misereatur is spoken by the priest replacing "tui", "tuis" and "te" with "vestri", "vestris" and "vos" respectively.

The rite ends with the Indulgentiam absolutionem prayer:

Indulgéntiam, + absolutiónem, et remissiónem peccatórum nostrórum, tríbuat nobis omnípotens et miséricors Dóminus.

Usage in Lutheranism[edit]


Sometimes known as "general confession", the Lutheran Penitential Rite[5] is done at the start of each Mass. The pastor and congregation say the Confiteor and the pastor says the Declaration of Grace. The Declaration of Grace is not an absolution. In Lutheran practice, the sacramental rite of confession is its own separate service, and private confession is expected before partaking of the Eucharist.[6]


Pastor: If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.

People: But if we confess our sins, God who is faithful and just will forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Pastor: Let us then confess our sins to God our Father.

People: Most merciful God, we confess that we are by nature sinful and unclean. We have sinned against you in thought, word, and deed, by what we have done and by what we have left undone. We have not loved You with our whole heart; we have not loved our neighbors as ourselves. We justly deserve Your present and eternal punishment. For the sake of Your Son, Jesus Christ, have mercy on us. Forgive us, renew us, and lead us, so that we may delight in Your will and walk in Your ways to the glory of your Holy Name. Amen.

Pastor: In the mercy of almighty God, Jesus Christ was given to die for us, and for His sake God forgives us all our sins. To those who believe in Jesus Christ He gives the power to become the children of God and bestows on them the Holy Spirit. May the Lord, who has begun this good work in us, bring it to completion in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.[7]


External links[edit]