05 April 2010

It's about time

Have you been to a communal penance service sometime in the last fifteen years or so and wondered, "What was that?" Well, you should no longer have to wonder.

For many years now the Rite of Penance has been out of print and many priests and pastoral leaders took advantage of this to create their own penance services. Some of these have been helpful in leading to a deeper conversion of heart and others have simply been, well, hokey and filled with fluff.

Since it has taken so long for the International Committee on the Liturgy to translate the current typical edition of the Rite of Penance (they have, admittedly, been busy with other things), the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops requested permission to reprint the edition of 1974.

I ordered a copy and it arrived - pointedly enough - on Good Friday. I've only had a chance to flip through it but I can see that it will be very helpful.

There are "sample penitential services" for all sorts of seasons and occasions, even one for children and one for young people.

My favorite feature, however, is the excellent - and thorough - examination of conscience in Appendix III.


  1. It looks like a text for clergy . . . would it benefit the laity, like me? Just curious. I would cough up the money for it . . . esp. for the examination of conscience.

  2. On the topic of the sacrament of Penance, I took a look at the Roman Ritual from 1964 on the sacrament. I found something rather poignant and I wonder if the modern Rite of Penance makes a point of it:

    17. But he must be careful not to discourage anyone by curious or useless questions; let him especially avoid imprudent questioning of young boys or girls (or others) concerning matters with which they are unacquainted, lest they be scandalized and learn thereby to commit certain sins.

  3. Good question; I answered it here: http://dzehnle.blogspot.com/2010/04/responding-to-my-post-on-rite-of.html

  4. I don't believe so, Jeff. I do remember several discussions about this topic in our confession practicum at the seminary.