Second Sunday of Lent

REVISED ORDER OF PENANCE. This is Part 2 of my miniseries on the
‘Order of Penance.’ This first revision of the English translation of the 1973 Latin edition, once called the Rite of Penance, affects its translation, not its structure. We will still ‘go to Confession’ as we have been doing for decades. This revised Order of Penance, optional since Ash Wednesday, is mandatory as of the 2nd Sunday of Easter or Divine Mercy Sunday, April 16, 2023. It prompts us to review and get reacquainted with this great Sacrament of Healing. Why a new translation?

First, many do not realize that the Church’s official language is still Latin; all her documents and rituals are first promulgated in Latin, which is then translated into every language on Earth! After each country or region’s Conference of Bishops drafts a local edition, Rome must approve it. Since the English spoken in the USA and its territories is quite different from the English spoken in British areas, there are two substantially different English translations of all Church publications! And the process of translation is far more daunting than most people realize; and it takes years – or decades!

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.”

As I explained in last week’s bulletin article, the ‘main change’ most people will [may?] notice is in
the ‘Prayer of Absolution’ offered by the Priest. The few words that have been altered express more accurately the original Latin intent of this oration. [I said ‘may’ notice because some still pray their ‘Act of Contrition’ AS the Priest is praying the ‘Prayer of Absolution!’ Priest and Penitent should be paying attention TO each other, not SPEAKING OVER each other! For BOTH prayers are quite beautiful and deserve special attention. This also maintains what is important in every Sacrament: it is a DIALOGUE taking place between God, who speaks and acts through the Ordained Priest, and God’s People, who seek a dose of God’s grace. 

of Penance’ and all other Catholic rituals, the revised ‘Order of Penance’ begins by explaining the ongoing development of our Sacraments and Rites, noting that – while the manner, way or form the Church has used for almost 2,000 years has, indeed, evolved through many adaptations and alterations – the essential elements – given to her by her Lord and Master, Jesus Christ, have, never, nor ever will, change! The revised ‘Order’ offers this brief history of Penance

Through His Passion, Death and Resurrection, Christ conquered sin and death. While His main ‘battle cry’ was: “Repent, and believe in the Gospel.” [Mark 1:15], this simply amplified the call of every Prophet before Him, up to John the Baptist. However, only Jesus, the Son of God, could also reconcile us to the Father! To enable this ministry to continue until His return in glory, Jesus instituted the Sacrifice of the New Covenant in His Blood, which is renewed and made present to us and for us at every holy Mass.

Before ascending into heaven, Christ sent the Holy Spirit upon Saint Peter and the other Apostles so that, in His Name, they would have the power to forgive or retain sins. [Cf: John 20:19-23] They, in turn, entrusted the authority and ability to forgive sins and to declare loose on earth and loosed in heaven [Cf: Matthew 16:19] to their successors, and to Ordained Priests or Presbyters – but not Deacons or any others. So, for two millennia, the Church has never ceased seeking stray sheep, calling sinners to conversion, and welcoming back prodigal sons and daughters. Next week: the sacramental gifts the Church uses to reconcile us.

With God’s love and my prayers,

Very Rev. Michael J. Kreder, VF, KCHS