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For over 20 years now, the Church has been gradually revising vernacular language translations of liturgical texts to reflect more accurately the Latin originals, as required by the 2001 Vatican document Liturgiam Authenticam. The most visible product of this process was of course the Roman Missal which began to be used in Advent, 2011. The Order of Celebrating Matrimony, the Order of Christian Marriage, the Order of Confirmation, the Order of Baptism of Children, and a few other lesser-used texts have been completed. The most recent update is in the Order of Penance. The changes here are minor, providing more options for readings and other texts for Penance services, various forms of an act of contrition, and updated Scriptural translations. But the change most will notice is in the formula of absolution prayed by the confessor, and the changes here are minimal. The formula will now read:

God, the Father of mercies, through the Death and Resurrection of his Son, has reconciled the world to himself and poured out the Holy Spirit (previously: sent the Holy Spirit among us) for the forgiveness of sins; through the ministry of the Church, may God grant (previously: 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.

This new formula may be used beginning with Ash Wednesday this year, and becomes mandatory on the Second Sunday of Easter, or Divine Mercy Sunday (April 16). Rest assured that if the confessor happens to use the older formula – after having prayed it thousands of times over the years! – this does not in any way affect the validity of the sacrament. The core essential sacramental words - “I absolve you from your sins” – do not change. Again, the changes are minor but more closely align with the Latin originals and parallel usages in the liturgy that speak of the lavish “outpouring” of the Spirit and God “granting” grace, underscoring the freely bestowed mercy of God.

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