Source and Summit #4 – Penitential act
My dear listeners, we continue our series of catechesis about the Eucharist. The next part of the Holy Mass is an invitation to the penitential act.
The penitential act has an important role and meaning. We are standing in front of God. If we are aware of that, we also know that we are unworthy, we are wicked, we are sinners. We remember the history of Moses. In the Book of Exodus he heard the voice saying: Moses, take off your shoes, for the place on which you stand is holy ground. We stand in front of God aware of his holiness and our unworthiness. Ordinary man admits to sin, that he or she is wicked. It is good to admit to being a sinner. Pope Francis said: If you do not commit sins you are not fully human. A sin is like a part of humanity. At the beginning of the Mass we make an eloquent gesture: we strike our breast. Everyone of us does it. As humans we very often point out mistakes, saying: He is a sinner, she is an evil man! During Holy Mass every one of us admits: I’m a sinner, striking our breast we say: this is the place which has to be crushed. We read in a Psalm: A humbled, contrite heart you will not spurn. It is very important to let God crush our hearts. The Roman Missal gives us four forms of the penitential act. The first one is very well known as general confession: 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. The second one sounds as follow: Have mercy on us, O Lord; For we have sinned against you. The third one is when we ask: You were sent to heal the contrite of heart, and the people respond: Lord, have mercy. And at last a form used in many parishes every Sunday – sprinkling the blessed water. A priest sprinkles the blessed water on every person. This is also a penitential act. After the penitential act we worship God singing: Lord, have mercy; Christ, have mercy; Lord, have mercy. In Sunday’s Mass or in Feast Day Masses we sing a solemn hymn. We are invited to praise God: Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to people of good will. As we read in The General Instruction of the Roman Missal it is an ancient and noble chant. There were many versions of this hymn but we use this one as the most popular. After this praising hymn we say the Collect prayer. The priest prays it in our name. It collects all our prayers. Its name comes exactly from this collection by the priest of our own intentions. There is a very important call at the beginning of this prayer: Let us pray. We stay in silence for a moment to think what do I bring to this Mass? What is my intention? What is in my heart? What does Jesus want to tell me today? What do I want to give him? It is good when the priest gives us this moment of silence to say what we have to say. In the Collect prayer a priest refers to the day, to the feast, or to the liturgical period. This is one of the tasks for this prayer – to refer to what we are celebrating. We answer this prayer by saying: Amen. We agree with this prayer, we accept it, we want God to accept it. Let it be done. Amen.