First Sunday of Lent

REVISED PRAYER OF ABSOLUTION. For over a decade, English translations of all liturgical rites have been revised to be more actual, rather than
literal versions of the original texts which are in Latin, which is still the Church’s ‘official’ language. In 2011, one of many revisions of the holy Mass changed “And also with you. back to “And with your spirit.” So far, these are the ritual books for what we now call the Order of rather than ‘Rite’ of Sacraments that have been revised; the year of their mandatory use follows each Sacrament: Confirmation and Matrimony [2016]; Baptism [2020]; Ordination of Deacons, Priests and Bishops [2021]; Penance [2023] and in 2022, the USA’s Bishops approved the revision of the Anointing of the Sick, which is awaiting approval or ‘recognitio from the Vatican. Here is the slightly altered Prayer of Absolution from the revised Order of Penance:

The Revised Prayer of Absolution
“God, the Father of mercies,
through the Death and Resurrection of his Son
has reconciled the world to himself
and poured out [currently, sent] the Holy Spirit
for the forgiveness of sins;
through the ministry of the Church may God

grant [currently, 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.”
The only changes are: “poured out” will replace

“sent,” and “grant” will replace “give.”

Why the change? While the basic answer is: the revised translations are closer to the original Latin texts, the purpose of this process is found in the 2001 Instruction ‘Liturgiam Authenticam’ which set the norms for translating Latin texts into local languages. In the past, a very ‘relaxed’ or ‘casual’ approach was taken to interpret the Latin into English. Some criticized the texts used from 1968 until the recent revisions as awkward, ‘dumbed down,’ or erroneous. As I have often said, in the former translations I felt as if I was “telling God what to do!”

I was glad to see phrases in Eucharistic Prayer III like “we ask you to make them holy by the power of your Spirit …” changed to “we humbly implore you, O Lord, through the same Spirit graciously make them holy …” and Welcome into your kingdom our departed brothers and sisters and all who have left this world in your friendship …” is now “To our departed brothers and sisters and to all who were pleasing to you at their passing from this life give kind admittance to your kingdom.” The words, and the revised Prayer of Absolution are, to me, much more humble, majestic, respectful, soothing, and prayerful.

To say God SENT the Holy Spirit made the Third Person of the Blessed Trinity seem ‘lesser’ than the First Person, the Father. Only a stronger person, or one who outranks another, can ‘send’ others. Since all Three Persons are in their “unity in substance, and equality in majesty,” [Preface for the Most Holy Trinity] equal Persons, the revised prayer says God POURED OUT the Holy Spirit …To ‘pour out’ is a much more lavish, expressive, overflowing term than to ‘send.’ Through the properly received *Prayer of Absolution, we are bathed in God’s gracious forgiveness and mercy!

There is also a subtle but important difference between ‘to give’ and ‘to grant, which is why I added an * above. Confession is not a ‘magic eraser’ that simply ‘makes sins disappear’ without some action on our part. Besides being truly contrite, and sincerely avoiding future sins, being ‘granted’ pardon and peace suggests that much more is required. A ‘grant’ requires the receiver to use what is ‘granted’ in specific ways.

Jesus concluded one parable about our need to forgive as we are forgiven by saying, “So will my heavenly Father do to you, unless each of you forgives his brother from his heart. [Matthew 18:35] What will God do to those who do not grant to others what is granted to them? “’You wicked servant! I forgave you your entire debt because you begged me to. Should you not have had pity on your fellow servant, as I had pity on you?’ Then in anger his master handed him over to the torturers until he should pay back the whole debt. [18:32b-34] This Lent, may we confess our sins – and forgive as we are forgiven!

With God’s love and my prayers,

Very Rev. Michael J. Kreder, VF, KCHS