Change in the Words of Absolution
My Dear Parishioners,
As we are now in the season of Lent, I want to encourage all parishioners to reflect on their sinfulness, repent of their sins, and go to the Sacrament of Penance. When you do, you might notice a slight change in the words of Absolution used by the priest. In the ongoing efforts to update the translations of the Scriptures and the texts used in the Church’s various liturgies, the Church has recently updated the form for the Sacrament of Penance. The U.S. Bishops have published the following announcement. Since this was published, they have announced that the approved start date for the new form was Ash Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2023.
CDWDS Confirms Order of Penance for the United States
The Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments has confirmed the new English translation of the Order of Penance for liturgical use in the United States (Prot. n. 460/21, April 25, 2022). Having received the confirmed text from the Holy See, the Secretariat of Divine Worship is now working with interested publishers to determine a timetable for implementation, currently estimated for early 2023. A future issue of the Newsletter will carry the promulgation decree of the USCCB President.
While the essential words of the formula of absolution have not been changed, there are two minor modifications to the preliminary part of the prayer. The new translation, with changes underlined, will be as follows:
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 for the forgiveness of sins; through the ministry of the Church may God grant 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. R. Amen.
The members of the Committee on Divine Worship expressed their hope that the publication of a new translation of this ritual could become the occasion for a renewed study of the prænotanda by priests and for an increased use of the rich options available in the text for the celebration of the sacrament.
Two minor U.S. adaptations to the Order of Penance were confirmed by the Holy See. First, the Latin typical edition provides long texts of entire Psalms among the many Biblical readings that can be used during the celebration of the sacrament. A new rubric has been inserted before this collection of Psalms (nos. 133-147) that reads: “In longer Psalms, a selection of stanzas which form a coherent whole may be chosen instead of the entire Psalm.” This language, based on the principle given in no. 143 of the USCCB guidelines on liturgical music, Sing to the Lord: Music in Divine Worship, will allow ministers more latitude, especially when choosing Responsorial Psalms to use in communal penance services.
Second, in addition to the ten options already provided for the penitent’s Act of Contrition, the Holy See confirmed the addition of a traditional version of the prayer, well-known in the United States:
O my God,
I am heartily sorry for having offended you, and I detest all my sins because of your just punishments, but most of all because they offend you, my God, who are all good and deserving of all my love. I firmly resolve, with the help of your grace, to sin no more and to avoid the near occasions of sin. Amen.
Of course, penitents are not limited to the options provided in the Order of Penance, and are free to express their sorrow with other prayers or even in their own words.
May God Bless You,