40 Lenten Lessons on the Mass.

Lesson 9: Penitential Rite (II) — First mention of Mary at Mass

After we take a few moments to privately “acknowledge our sins” it is time to express our contrition and call out to God for help. What follows is a magnificent, powerful, and beautiful prayer: the ‘Confiteor’ — so called because that’s the first word in Latin, “I Confess.”

By saying “I” confess, we take ownership of our actions and we ‘reclaim’ our freedom by stating that our ‘words, deeds, thoughts, actions, and omissions’ were done by our own choice. And then we call upon the Angels and Saints, especially the Blessed Mother, and all of our brothers and sisters to pray for us.

You will notice that the recent (2010) new translation of the Confiteor includes the triple repetition of the famous “mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa” (through my fault, through my fault, through my most grievous fault.) Previously the English translation omitted the triple repetition because some thought, well, that it was too repetitious. But that’s exactly the point: important statements need to be repeated otherwise the lesson does not sink in.

No mother says “stop” just once as her child heads into danger. She says, “stop, Stop, STOP!!”, each time louder in order to make the point.

When we say “my fault” three times and strike our chest for emphasis, we are actually growing in freedom, which sets us up for a deeper encounter with Christ.

Here is the prayer. It’s one of my favorites.

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.

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