Recently at a Monday morning Word and Communion Service I was very drawn to the words of The Confiteor (Latin for “I confess”) and I wondered how many of us really pay attention to what we ask as we pray it. You know the prayer as part of the Penitential Rite: 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 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.
In this very simple two-sentence prayer we confess that we are sinners and that the sin we engage in is our own fault. It speaks not only of the sins we commit by our actions, which would also include our words, but also by what we
fail to do. How could that be? How can one sin if no action is taken?
Think about that for a moment. How often are we called to stand up for another, or speak out against a wrong, or support something we know to be right and good? Perhaps we choose rather, not to get involved. Could that be the sin we commit by what we fail to do?
Think of the example of the pro-choice movement that is common in our world today. Surely you have heard that many people feel it is a woman’s right to choose whether or not to give birth to her unborn child. Many have argued that it’s her body and her choice. Yet, we as Catholics know we are called to uphold the sanctity and dignity of human life from the very moment of conception to natural death. What if I say I’d rather not get involved or I would rather not make a statement against what someone else wants to do. What if I simply stay silent and do nothing. To do nothing in this case might well be a grievous sin! So we can sin by what we fail to do.
I love that we pray this prayer together, with other sinners, our brothers and sisters in faith who desire to draw closer to Jesus; to admit that we fail and to ask for support in the form of prayer. In the Confiteor we call upon the Blessed Mother, all the angels and saints, and our brothers and sisters to pray to God for us. We are calling on all who have faith, both past and present. This prayer may seem personal, yet when prayed in union with others it speaks for the whole of a community; the Body of Christ. Isn’t it wise that as the Catholic Church designed the order of the Mass it included the Penitential Rite at the very beginning of the liturgy? In that way, the first thing we do is admit our sinfulness and then as one body we sing praise in the Gloria, listen to Scripture and teaching, and ultimately receive the most precious gift in the Eucharist. Let us be mindful of what we ask each time we pray the Confiteor.
In shared faith, Deb Rudolph
October 17, 2020
A July Faith Formation Series – Part IV – APOSTOLIC