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St. Mary Magdalen's
Catholic Church
Willesden Green
London NW10
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Monday, February 26, 2007
First Sunday of Lent 25th February 2007 Year C
Continuing our Questions and Answers on the Mass

Why do we to call to mind our sins at the beginning of Mass?
This part of the Mass is called the Penitential Rite. We acknowledge our sinfulness and pray for forgiveness. This is in order to put ourselves in the proper condition for the celebration of the Mass, where Christ is truly present to us, offering Himself for us, under the outward appearance of bread and wine. “Whoever, therefore, eats the Bread or drinks the Cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of profaning the body and blood of the Lord. Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup”(1Cor11:27-28). As we say sorry for all our sins during the Penitential Rite, we unite as a community to receive Christ in Word and Sacrament.

Why do we recite the “Kyrie”, “Lord have mercy... Christ have mercy”?
Having confessed our sins to God, we ask for His mercy. We trust that God in His infinite love will have mercy on us and grant us forgiveness. “Lord have mercy” is a very old – even pre-Christian – expression and even when Mass was celebrated exclusively in Latin (as it was in the West from the eighth to the twentieth century), the Kyrie was still said in Greek, “Kyrie Eleison, Christe Eleison”, which was the original language of Christian worship. This is testimony to its ancient origins. We usually use the Greek form at our 12 noon Mass.

Does this Rite take away the need for sacramental confession?
At the end of this Rite the priest says “May Almighty God have mercy on us, forgive us our sins, and bring us to everlasting life.” Participation in this Rite, in the context of Holy Mass, does forgive small (‘venial’) sins. Mentioning them in confession is still a very fruitful practice. Should we be in the state of what is called “Mortal Sin”, that is where we have deliberately done something seriously wrong (as described in the Catechism), knowing it was wrong, we still can and should take part in Mass, but should mention these sins in confession before receiving Holy Communion.

NEXT WEEK: What if I’m not sure what ‘state’ I’m in? What if through “no fault of my own” I still seem to be barred from Holy Communion?

posted by Sinead Reekie at 9:42 am