QUAERITUR: removal of 2nd Confiteor harmful to the faithful?

From a reader:

I am a lay Catholic and over the month past month I have felt truly
home since going to the Mass of the Ages.

Please forgive my ignorance but the missal of blessed John XXIII has
omitted the prayers at the foot of the altar at certain occasions and
the 2nd confiteor before reception of the Eucharist of the faithful.
Are these changes though indiscernible harmful to the faith or
necessary and part of the organic growth of the Mass?

The 1962 Missale Romanum (the Missal of John XXIII) did not omit the prayers at the foot of the altar, except in the normal circumstances (e.g., Good Friday).  And there is a curtailed form in the Requiem Mass.

However, the 1962MR does not have the 2nd Confiteor before Holy Communion.  In many places, I would guess most places, it is done anyway regardless.

I don’t think it is harmful to the faithful to omit the 2nd Confiteor.   It is not harmful to the faithful to be without the prayers at the foot of the altar.

At the same time, consider that these two elements of the older, traditional form of Mass were omitted in the Novus Ordo even though the Second Vatican Council’s document on liturgy Sacrosanctum Concilium said that no changes should be made unless it should be for the true good of the faithful.

I cannot quite make out how the faithful benefit from the removal of those things.  They might not necessarily be harmed, but… how do they benefit?

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53 Responses to QUAERITUR: removal of 2nd Confiteor harmful to the faithful?

  1. Hieronymus says:

    Surely you jest, Father.

    I don’t think there was any intention to change only what the good of souls demanded. This becomes blatantly obvious when you begin to itemize the changes and ask, “how were these so harmful that it was necessary to remove them?”
    - the dates (and celebration) of most feast days
    - the elimination of ember days
    - the greatest majority of the texts of the Mass
    - the elimination of minor orders and their roles in the liturgy
    - the prayers at the foot of the altar

    And this list could go on for quite a long time. Remember folks, Bugnini was largely responsible for the document Sacrosanctum Concilium itself, and he knew what the bishops needed to read to get signatures — and he knew how far his ambiguous document could be stretched.

  2. gloriainexcelsis says:

    Re: the second Confiteor
    A very good priest explained in a class on liturgy a couple of years ago (FSSP), that the second Confiteor was really for the congregation to confess one more time in humility, hoping for the forgiveness of our sins to prepare for Holy Communion. He stressed that we should be saying the Confiteor to ourselves with the altar servers, who are speaking in our name before the “Domine non sum dignus” for the congregation. There is nothing more beautiful, moreover, than the Deacon and Sub-Deacon at a Solemn High Mass, going to either side of the altar, bowing low as the Deacon chants the Confiteor. It is such a beautiful chant. I often find myself chanting it when I’m driving in the car – a little odd maybe – but we can’t confess enough, can we?

  3. Supertradmum says:

    At our Latin Masses, no matter which one of the four priests come to say the EF, (not a parish, but assigned priests), all four say the second Confiteor. These priests went to St. John Cantius to learn the EF several years ago. Is this ok? As they all do it, I assumed that is what they were taught to do.

  4. Supertradmum says:

    comes not come-sorry

  5. It would be helpful to know WHY there was a second Confiteor in the first place.

    Until Pius X encouraged more frequent Communion just over a century ago, Communion of the Faithful was less common. When it was done, it would often occur after Mass. This ritual would begin with the recitation of the Confiteor by the server, followed by the priest holding up the Host for the “Ecce Agnus Dei …” much as would be done in the pre-1962 form of the Traditional Mass. It was not considered part of the Mass proper. In fact, you will not find the Communion of the Faithful in the priest’s missal at the altar, even in the 1962 version. And in most comprehensive hand missals until the late 1950s (Dom Gaspar’s Saint Andrew Missal, etc), it is listed as a separate event in an appendix, in addition to its location in the Mass.

    And so, once the Sacrament was more commonly received, the entire ritual was simply inserted after the Communion of the Priest as the norm. Thus the appearance of the “second Confiteor.”

    The “second Confiteor” is not in the 1962 Missal, but its continued use is indulged by the Holy See. That it is not officially included, cannot be definitively attributed to any one person, other than perhaps the Holy Father himself, who ultimately approved the change. In all likelihood, it was removed simply because it no longer served its original purpose. On the other hand, a tradition often retains its value after its purpose has faded away. The case could be made either way, without the usual conspiracy theories.

    At the parish where I am MC, we do not use it, but its use is brought to the attention of servers in training, and they are told what to do and when, in the event that their experience takes them elsewhere.

    Me, I could go either way with it.

  6. joecct77 says:

    I’m curious about our other readers — how many recite the 2nd Confetior quietly to themselves when it is not recited publically??

    I must confess that I also say it before receiving Comminion in the Ordinary Form.

  7. West of the Potomac says:

    At my parish’s EF Masses the servers do not say the 2nd confiteor. I do, however, say the confiteor to myself (followed by a few “SHJ, have mercy…”) as I am in line at the communion rail.

    I find that it is a great way to bring clarity to the situation.

  8. ssoldie says:

    I have said it from the time I was Confirmed (1951) along with the alter boys, if the Pope wanted it there I see no right reason to eliminate it.

  9. diazt says:

    Being a humble theology student still grappling with the complexities of the pre-novus ordo form(s) of the Mass, I may be about to put my foot in my mouth.

    I would probably guess the second confiteor was originally the equivalent (along with the other prayers around it of the Eastern Communion Prayer said in the Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom. This prayer is a confession of our sins, our unworthiness to receive, and a beseeching of God to heal us.

    One could say that in the western rite, it has now been lessened to “O Lord, I am not worthy to receive you, but only say the word and I shall be healed.”

    With these thoughts in mind, I wouldn’t say that the loss of the second confiteor is harmful in that it does not diminish the action of the sacrifice and we strive to retain it’s sense with “O Lord, I am not worthy…”. I would say, however, that its loss does not maximize the experience of mercy and gift that should accompany reception of the Eucharist. Acknowledging one’s sinfulness in a dramatic way (like the Eastern Communion Prayer) is a sure way to instill in a person the need for examination of conscience and the reminder that receiving unworthily could lead to judgment or condemnation makes one understand the gravity of the sacrament.

    Hearing it in a Ruthenian Rite scared the crud out of my mother, born and raised Roman Catholic.

    So I don’t think it’s loss is harmful. However, I think its addition, or a prayer akin to it (Eastern Communion Prayer), can do great good.

  10. Joshua08 says:

    Fr., I believe the questioner had in mind the various omissions of the prayers at the Foot that were indeed novel ommissions. You say normal, but what is that?

    It was not omitted on Palm Sunday, Candlemas, etc until the reform in the 1950′s

    Anyhow the 2nd or 3rd Confiteor makes perfect sense to me in light of the historical fact that the confiteor at the beginning is not about the people. The priest confesses, then the other sacred ministers confess. These confessions, like the rest of the prayers at the foot, evolved as prayers said to fill in the time of the introit. Only in a roundabout way, via low Mass, is the idea instilled that it is somehow a confession of the congregation. The original purpose was a confession before entering “in sanctum sanctorum”

    Now especially at a sung or Solemn Mass, the 2nd Confiteor is very significant. The people do not hear the earlier ones and, in fact, can be singing the Introit. But this confiteor is explicitly for them. That it was imported a long time go (before Pius X, before Trent in fact) into the Mass from communion given outside of Mass is also true of the Ecce Agnus Dei (which mimics the Agnus Dei) and the Domine non sum dignus following that (mimicking the priest)

    The Dominican Rite prior to 1958 did not even have the Ecce Agnus Dei. Very simply the priest receives communion, and has his own Domine non sum dignus, and then proceeds to distribute.

    So that it was imported in does not mean that its purpose does not make sense, any more than with the Ecce Agnus Dei

  11. Fr. Basil says:

    \\I am a lay Catholic and over the month past month I have felt truly
    home since going to the Mass of the Ages.\\

    And just what are the Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom and other Eastern Liturgies, to say nothing about the other authorized Western rites, such as the Mozarabic, Bragan, and even Novus Ordo?

    Chopped liver?

    There was a time that NONE of these liturgies, including the Tridentine Rite, existed, therefore NONE of them can justly be called “the Mass of the Ages”–unless ALL of them (including the Pauline Mass) are.

    What Manwithblackhat said about the second (or possibly third) Confiteor is historically true.

    As far as frequently repeating this prayer on the grounds that “one can never confess enough,” it can be a symptom of spiritual OCD, otherwise known as scrupulosity.

    Sooner or later we have to get our eyes off ourselves and onto God’s forgiveness.

  12. HighMass says:

    One does wonder how Bugnini got away with all he did, and over and over one asks why Paul VI signed off on the N.O.????

    Since the N.O. is the primary Mass I attend accept for a E.F. Mass once a month, an act of Contrition is the prayer one tries to use prior to receiving Our Lord. but food for thought will now start on my own and quietly saying the confiteor to myself.

  13. KevinSymonds says:

    I can think of a reason why it should be omitted: accusations of disobedience.

    For years the 1962 Missal was fought to be “freed” (as popular parlance spoke of the matter). Now that it is “freed” people are not even following its rubrics.

    For the sake of consistency of argument, the 2nd confiteor ought not be said.
    -KJS

  14. wolfeken says:

    gloriainexcelisdeo — You reminded me of something I’ve been meaning to ask. Does anyone who is familiar with the FSSP’s custom of having the deacon and subdeacon chant the last (2nd/3rd depending on how you count it) Confiteor before communion at High Mass know how that started? The only time it should be chanted (according to my books) is at a pontifical High Mass.

  15. greasemonkey says:

    I think it’s noteworthy that Psalm 42 and not the “prayers at the foot of the altar” is what is really in question. This psalm was really a part of the celebrants preparation for Mass and was inserted into the public prayer of the church in the Missal of Trent. The historic liturgies of religious orders (Dominican & Carmelite) do not have this psalm. It was simply the In nomine… Confiteor…kyrie. The Introit is out of place in all of the rites as it ended up right smack in the middle of penitential stuff?! I think “they” tried to fix this. Many orthodox liturgists saw the fault in this. The confiteor before communion is simply out of place too. All the penetential stuff was done at the beginning then we abruptly go back to the confiteor?! All that being said, I wouldn’t say that these things were harmful for anyone.

  16. quovadis7 says:

    @Fr. Basil,

    “Sooner or later we have to get our eyes off ourselves and onto God’s forgiveness.”

    I agree with you, Fr. Basil, that scrupulosity is certainly spiritually unhealthy. But, so is an excessive emphasis upon God’s Mercy & forgiveness. The traditional missal lists “presumption of God’s Mercy” as one of the 6 sins against the Holy Ghost (I’m not insinuating that you are advocating that Fr. Basil)….

    IMHO, it’s not an “either/or” matter – either focusing upon ourselves, or focusing upon God.

    Instead, it is the Catholic “both/and” – looking at all things realistically – the reality of how sinful we truly are AND how much they truly do offend God infinitely, no matter how “small” they might be – as well as realizing that if we express heartfelt contrition for our sins & aim to make amendment in our lives, God will always extend to us His Mercy and forgiveness.

    I agree with Fr. Z – taking out the 2nd Confiteor was NOT clearly beneficial for the laity.

    Pax et benedictiones tibi, per Christum Dominum nostrum,

    Steve B
    Plano, TX

  17. Jayna says:

    That’s always been my question with the way the new Mass is celebrated (not necessarily how it appears in the missal itself). There are so many things that are optional that “liturgists” choose not to do it simply because they don’t see the point. There is no consideration for any theological reasons other than it’s optional, so why do it at all? Instead, they just add in things or omit what is not optional, thus making it harmful.

  18. dans0622 says:

    I am surprised that others have experienced FSSP priests incorporating this confiteor–at the parish I attended for about two years, I never saw it done. As far as how we benefit from the removal of this confiteor: I don’t know what the benefit necessarily is one way or the other. But, now that it is removed, there is a benefit in simply, obediently doing what’s in the book.

  19. Fr_Sotelo says:

    Fr. Z: Doing something “for the true good of the faithful” is one reason changes could be made to the liturgy, but I don’t believe it is the only reason. Sacrosanctum Concilium cited other reasons, such as securing the full and active participation of the people (#14), or if something is shown to be an intrusion which does not harmonize with the inner nature of the liturgy (#21), impedes the faithful from understanding the rites with ease (#21), or is not part of an organic growth when the liturgy is seen historically (#23). In addition, in the revision of the rites, SC calls for a careful investigation into structure and meaning of each part of the liturgy, as well as what is learned from experience of the indults of the Holy See.

    If we were to simply go by what is for the “true good of the faithful” almost anything could be inserted into the liturgy. As a rite that communicates grace from outward signs, and signs which must be clear and simple, the liturgy must not present signs which are not merely emotionally fulfilling. What does this part of the Mass do, or accomplish? Is the rite doing this, or have other goals and desires crept in to this part? Is the introductory rite of the Tridentine Mass also the priest’s preparation, and also his contrition of sin, and also the contrition of the ministers, and also the Kyrie, and also the adoration of the Gloria, plus an entrance antiphon (Introit) stuck in between, plus other prayers of humility while kissing the altar, plus, plus, plus ???? So exactly what is this first part of the Mass supposed to accomplish? And if some of these parts were inserted in the 4th, 5th, or 6th centuries, for what reason, and was it true organic growth.

    The comment I hear from people in these blogs is “but I feel good when the 2nd confiteor is done. They should never have changed it.” That may sound like a defense of tradition, but it could also be very much a parroting of the liberals’ mindset that we keep things in the liturgy because they feel good. And if that’s the case let’s just ignore the fact that the Missal has dropped the 2nd confiteor, because we don’t have to go along with any change that we don’t agree with. For instance, “The English translation should not be changed, because I feel better with the present translation.”

  20. Fr_Sotelo says:

    The second paragraph above should state: “If we were to simply go by what is for the “true good of the faithful” almost anything could be inserted into the liturgy, or allowed to remain there unchanged. As a rite that communicates grace from outward signs, and signs which must be clear and simple, the liturgy must not present signs which are merely emotionally fulfilling.”

  21. asophist says:

    I was trained as an altar server in 1956. At that time, I was told that the server’s Confiteor at the foot of the altar was the server’s confession and that the server’s Confiteor before communion was done as the people’s representative and that it was important to keep this in mind. Therefore, when the Confiteor before communion was eliminated, I was scandalized and lost much sleep over it. Was I no longer fulfilling my mission of representing the people? Now, perhaps what I was taught was the personal theology of the nun who instructed me and had no basis in fact. I didn’t now that then and I don’t know it now. All I know is that without the pre-communion Confiteor, something doesn’t seem right and no matter how much theologising I hear against it, that doesn’t change my feelings. That said, of course, this should not be all about my feelings, and I agree. I’m just saying it was all very hard on a 14-year-old boy who loved the Mass.

  22. Rachel Pineda says:

    “As far as frequently repeating this prayer on the grounds that “one can never confess enough,” it can be a symptom of spiritual OCD, otherwise known as scrupulosity.

    Sooner or later we have to get our eyes off ourselves and onto God’s forgiveness.”

    There is nothing scrupulous about not being able to confess enough and knowing this. There is everything scrupulous about not really believing it. That is the peculiar pride of the scrupulous conscience. After all, it is precisly the realization of not being able to accuse ourselves enough, I’m speaking about a true realization rooted in humilty, that propels us forward in the hope of God’s Mercy. Without this it is nothing but presumption.

  23. dad29 says:

    A Legitimate Liturgist priest-scholar (who gave a conference on Chant at which I met the most wonderful Fr. Z) holds that the ‘third Confiteor’ is a vestige–as Mr. Man With Black Hat notes above.

    But there’s a bit more than his explanation.

    Years ago, in a tradition going back many MORE years, a number of the Faithful would arrive at the early weekday Mass just in time for Communion. They were called “daily Communicants.” (Yes, I’m old enough to remember them, including being able to name several from my home parish..) Don’t ask me how that started, or why. I don’t know.

    Anyhoo, that ‘third Confiteor’ was there for them, too.

    Now, few (if any) people are “daily communicants” in that way; most are able to attend the entire Mass.

    As to B-16 “indulging” the practice: I’d be very interested in seeing documentation of that claim.

    Finally, it is supremely ironic that a certain Order of priests (based offshore) demands–and I mean DEMANDS–obedience from the laity on issues large and small–yet flagrantly and knowingly DIS-obeys the 1962 Rubrics on this matter.

    Some things never change.

  24. wolfeken says:

    Fr. Sotelo wrote: “The comment I hear from people in these blogs is ‘but I feel good when the 2nd confiteor is done. They should never have changed it.’”

    That is not what I am seeing from people above. I am reading many comments about the liturgical point of the 3rd/final Confiteor: that is, it is the one for the people receiving communion. Not for the priest (1st Confiteor) and not for the server (2nd Confiteor). So if there is a congregation to receive communion, the final Confiteor is said with the final absolution. If not, then no. Archbishop Bugnini did not give a reason when he hacked off that prayer — he did so without sufficient explanation, so now we have the mess to clean up.

    As an aside I find it interesting that most traditional Latin Masses that have a priest who will not allow the 3rd/final Confiteor still recite the Prayers After Low Mass. If you’re going to do one, do both — they were each deleted in the same Bugnini package. The latter, however, features the congregation making vocal responses, my guess as to why more liberally-minded TLM priests are apt to keep them while scrapping the final Confiteor.

  25. Alice says:

    When my family attended the Indult Mass in my youth, the priest followed the rubrics for the 1962 missal so there was no 3rd Confiteor. If the Confiteor before Communion was for the people (as some have stated), it makes sense that it would be omitted at some point during the liturgical renewal of the 20th century. No matter how the Confiteor became part of the prayers at the foot of the altar, by the 1960′s, hand missals and textbooks and the example of the Dialogue Mass had taught the laity that the altar boy’s Confiteor was their Confiteor too. If Rome has given permission for the insertion of the 3rd Confiteor in the 1962 Missal, great. If not, please don’t do it because some of us don’t like illicit practices, even in the name of tradition.

  26. asophist says:

    //…some of us don’t like illicit practices…//
    Alice: From my reading of Fr. Z’s comments and the comments of other contributors, it seems that the situation is not one of illicitness but of allowing something that is not explicitly forbidden. If the final Confiteor was explicitly forbidden, then it would be illicit – but it doesn’t sound to me like it’s explicitly forbidden. It may merely be regarded as irregular, but acceptable. For example, if I intentionally start a fire in a restaurant I would violate the law. But, there are many other things I could do in a restaurant that would not be illegal but would also not be acceptable. Just as there are things that are not explicitly allowed by the law that are, nonetheless, perfectly acceptable. Perhaps Fr. Z will clarify.

  27. dad29 says:

    Not for the priest (1st Confiteor) and not for the server (2nd Confiteor).

    The altar servers, like the choir, are representatives of the faithful. The confiteor that they say during the Prayers at the foot of the altar are said on behalf of the people AND for themselves.

  28. dad29 says:

    is not one of illicitness but of allowing something that is not explicitly forbidden

    Say the black, do the red.

    What Jesuit school trained you?

  29. eastsilica says:

    The latest fashion from our NO pastor is to leave out the first Confiteor….

  30. Fr_Sotelo says:

    wolfeken: There is in the sacred liturgy a communal prayer led by the priest, acting in the person of Christ but also acting on behalf of the members of the Church, which is directed to the praise and glory of the Father in the power of the Holy Spirit. During certain parts of the Mass, the Church asks the people to actively join in, and at other parts to allow the priest alone to speak on behalf of the people through Christ, with Him, and in Him.

    In Sacrosanctum Concilium, the Church asks that all the prayers recited by the priest be seen as prayers on behalf of the people, not “his prayers, the servers’ prayers, the servers’ or priest’s prayers on behalf of the people.” The liturgy is not meant to be chopped up into compartments which certain people posses as their special property. So technically, we only need one confiteor, and one of everything else.

    As far as the Low Mass prayers, those are not part of the liturgy and are not relevant to a discussion of rubrics, per se. In the 1962 Missal, it is not required to follow Low Mass with the Leonine prayers, but since Mass is finished at that point, the priest and people are free to engage in any devotional actions they may wish without violating any Mass rubric. The Church encourages, outside of Mass, any and all devotional prayers, including the reciting of the Leonine prayers. On the other hand, the pre-Communion Confiteor is part of rubrics within the Mass, and the insistence on including it is a violation of the rubric. I don’t know why we must dispense ourselves from “Say the black, do the red” at this part of the liturgy but not others. It is very simple. The priest and servers at Mass should not be doing what is not prescribed.

  31. MJ says:

    Father Z wrote, “However, the 1962MR does not have the 2nd Confiteor before Holy Communion. In many places, I would guess most places, it is done anyway regardless.”

    I do believe this is the case, as I attend the EF at a FSSP parish and the Confiteor is always there before Holy Communion. At every FSSP Mass I’ve ever been to, in fact, this has been the case.

    To Father Basil, with all due respect, I believe you may be reading too deeply into some of the comments posted — particularly with regards to the commenter who wrote, “I am a lay Catholic and over the month past month I have felt truly home since going to the Mass of the Ages”. This commenter was merely stating that they have found that they really love the EF; the commenter did not say anything about other Western Liturgies or about the Eastern Liturgies. Certainly other approved liturgies are worthy of our attention, but isn’t it okay to prefer one Rite over another? Especially if the preferred Rite is a commonly accepted Rite of the region where one lives, and more importantly, if the preferred Rite is celebrated in the parish or diocese where one lives? Additionally, the title “the Mass of the Ages” has, for quite some time, been understood to refer to the EF form of the Mass.

  32. Pretty good discussion here.

  33. Chris Garton-Zavesky says:

    As a member of a Schola, I find myself grateful every week for the Confiteor before Holy Communion. Why? During the 1st confiteor, I’m busy singing either an Introit or a Kyrie, so the extra recollection is very helpful.

    Chris

  34. Joshua08 says:

    Several things,

    1. I do not know what the current status of the prayers after low Mass are, but in 1962 they were no optional. They could, however, be omitted in certain cases (when the Mass is followed by Benediction or a procession, when a sermon is given, when the Mass is celebrated with more solemnity-e.g. a nuptial Mass, etc). This at least is what the most recent edition of Fortescue-O’Connell-Reid states, as well as the Ceremonies of the Mass by O’Connell

    2. The FSSP follows a very simply rule in general here. Where it was retained as custom, the 2nd/3rd confiteor is said in their Masses. Where it was not so retained they do not re-introduce it. Hence the different experiences of different people

    3. Wolfeken- assuming the 3rd Confietor is still allowed in 1962, it is certainly permissible to chant it. The rubrics do not direct this, but custom sanctions it. We make a mistake when we read rubrics as if they were American laws. For instance, according to the rubrics a processional cross is used only in Pontifical Masses and a few Masses a year (e.g. Palm Sunday). Yet in English speaking countries the use of such a cross is common place. Or again, according to the rubrics the bell at Mass is rung a) at the sanctus, b) sometime shortly before the consecration c) either once continually, or three times for each elevation. d) Shortly before communion to single to the faithful who may wish to receive to come up. The exact manner (e.g. at the Hanc Igitur) is not determined, and custom admits a variety of other rings.

    To all- In the Ceremonies of the Roman Rite, Canon O’Connell has an excellent chapter on rubrics and custom. Read it before you start accusing priests of disobedience. Or else get equally worked up about a processional cross being used, the omission of the Sanctus candle, or the use of more than one server at low Mass of a priest (actually that last one was reprobated several times by the SRC, who allowed the use of more than one only when there was a just cause)

    4. As a point of fact, it is not disobedience to have the 3rd Confiteor. I wrote the Society of St. John Cantius about this (and have talked to various priests, e.g. Fr. Berg, FSSP). Fr. Scott Haynes, SJC gave me this response

    #1

    “In pre-1962 Missals, in the “Ritus servandus in celebratione Missae, X, 6,” this Confiteor is stipulated. In the same section in the 1962 Missal it is not mentioned, but nowhere in the rubrics is it forbidden. Apart from this omission the ordinary of the Mass was not changed.”

    The Missal of 1962 – A Rock of Stability
    by Michael Davies – Spring 2001

    #2

    Klaus Gamber, a favorite theologian and liturgist of Pope Benedict XVI, wrote in his critique of the reforms that the second Confiteor was a legitimate option in both the 1962 and 1965 versions of the Missal, even though they were not specifically mentioned.

    #3

    Regarding the question of the second (or, if you like, third) Confiteor in the 1962 rite, in the Ponticale Romanum (Marietti, editio iuxta typicam, 1962) there is a second Confiteor.

    #4

    When the Confiteor was dropped as part of Blessed John XXIII’s revised rubrics in 1960, permission was given shortly after by the Sacred Congregation of Rites to continue the second Confiteor, where it was an established custom. It said, I believe, that this practice could be tolerated. That is the permission that has continued to operate under the indult.

    #5

    The Roman Ritual as late as 1964 still provides for the use of the Confiteor before the reception of Holy Communion by the faithful as an option.

    #6

    When our parish began to offer the Traditional Latin Mass in 1989 at the request of Cardinal Bernadin, the Cardinal asked us to consult with Msgr. Charles N. Meter (Secretary of the Commission for Sacred Music, president of the American Federation of Pueri cantores, director of several diocesan choirs) in order to restore the use of the 1962 Missal as it was observed here in the Archdiocese of Chicago. In the 50′s and 60′s Msgr. Meter was very much involved with the guidance of the Sacred Liturgy in the Archdiocese of Chicago. Msgr. Meter recalled that the parishes in our Archdiocese never discontinued the use of the 2nd Confiteor. He mentioned that the Sacred Congregation for Rites, at the time of the revision of the rubrics under John XXIII, clarified that while the 2nd Confiteor was no longer required it was permitted. Thus it is a legitimate option in th ’62 liturgy. At the time of the re-introduction of the Traditional Mass in our parish Msgr. Meter confirmed this with the Ecclesia Dei commission which simply re-stated the previous decision of the S.C.R.

    Now I would like to see said copy of the SCR decree and obviously can only trust that what this priest wrote me is true, but I think it is downright scandalous and indeed the utmost disrespect to the priests of the FSSP or ICR to call them disobedient. You would have to claim also that priests of the SCJ, FSSP, et al. are liars. It may well be legitimate to wonder about how this works, to ask a priest if he can show you where permission is had or point you in the right direction, etc. But to jump to, as many com-box attackers have here, accusations of disobedience is abhorrent

  35. Joshua08 says:

    To clarify: what I have been told by the FSSP is that they were given permission for it where it was still customary upon their arrival (whether that means a pre-existing Latin Mass group, or, as with the SCJ, it was done in the 1960′s I do not know). My understanding is that they don’t want to “rock the boat” too much with communities that expect it.

  36. thereseb says:

    I use my father’s 1954 missal at Mass, and expected the 2nd Confiteor – and I got it at the regular Friday Mass I attend. I did notice one week when I forgot the Missal, that it was not in the LMS version. I also saw it at the FSSP Masses.
    I like it, because I am occasionally prone to distraction and thus venial sin at Mass, that I love to feel that I am confessing and receiving absolution quietly at the point I have finally decided to receive Communion. I am not over-scrupulous – it just feels right.
    I

  37. medievalist says:

    Of course, our priest simply removes the first confiteor from our O.F. Mass and dispenses with the whole problem…

  38. Fr. Basil says:

    \\“Sooner or later we have to get our eyes off ourselves and onto God’s forgiveness.”

    I agree with you, Fr. Basil, that scrupulosity is certainly spiritually unhealthy. But, so is an excessive emphasis upon God’s Mercy & forgiveness. The traditional missal lists “presumption of God’s Mercy” as one of the 6 sins against the Holy Ghost (I’m not insinuating that you are advocating that Fr. Basil)….\\

    In the Apostles’ Creed, it says, “I believe in the forgiveness of sins…..” Does that not mean we are required to believe that (should the spiritual conditions be met) our sins are forgiven?

    **To Father Basil, with all due respect, I believe you may be reading too deeply into some of the comments posted — particularly with regards to the commenter who wrote, “I am a lay Catholic and over the month past month I have felt truly home since going to the Mass of the Ages”. This commenter was merely stating that they have found that they really love the EF; **

    It is one thing to love or prefer one particular rite and spiritual tradition of the Church. I make no secret that I love the Byzantine tradition. This does not mean I do not respect the other authorized Liturgies of the Church, and assist at them as I am able.

    However, I have noticed that aficionados of the Extraordinary Form frequently use the term “mass of the/all ages” to assert that is it somehow inherently superior to the Ordinary Form, if not all the other authorized Eucharistic Liturgies as well. In my experience, many of such people have not even HEARD that there are Eastern Liturgies, or even non-Roman Western liturgies, but are merely using “mass of the/all ages” in a triumphalist way.

    Others labor under the mistaken and outdated notion that the Roman Rite somehow has some kind of pre-eminence or priority or perfection, and the more an Eastern liturgy is assimilated to it, the more “perfect” it is.

  39. dominic1955 says:

    It seems there is plenty of reason to say that the 2nd/3rd Confiteor is legitimate. The Leonine prayers are basically a “prescribed” devotional, but I don’t see why we do not just keep them going. I do not see any reason to throw around terms like “disobedient” and so forth. It is especially quite beautiful at a Solemn High Mass.

    As to the other liturgies and the “Mass of the Ages”, at least in my experience, other TLM fans also appreciate the other traditional liturgies-East and West. However, it is just the way it is that the Latin Rite has the preeminence in that it is the most wide spread. When most people think “Catholic” they think of the Roman Rite. Even in the secular world, when they want to paint something as Catholic (especially in film) it is often in varying degrees of the pre-Vatican II Roman trappings. Its basically shorthand to speak of all things Roman as preeminently Catholic, inaccurate yes, but resonate with lived collective experience.

  40. C.B. says:

    Much thanks for the original post and all of the comments.

    I recently moved to a parish which includes a traditional Latin Mass in its Sunday Mass schedule. Having grown up with the Latin Mass (Vatican II began when I was in grade school), I was very pleased to dig out my old Latin-English missal again. But I was really puzzled by the “extra” Confiteor right before Communion. I had never experienced that before. So I was really wondering what was up.

    It’s nice to have some of the historical background now.

  41. John Pepino says:

    Dear Joshua08:
    Thank you for your contribution on the last confiteor; it ought to be more widely known.
    Sincerely,
    John Pepino

  42. dad29 says:

    When the Confiteor was dropped as part of Blessed John XXIII’s revised rubrics in 1960, permission was given shortly after by the Sacred Congregation of Rites to continue the second Confiteor, where it was an established custom.

    Fine, assuming that there WAS such a custom, uninterrupted. And I’m sure you can supply a citation, which would be interesting for all parties.

    But when it is re-instated despite strict obedience to the 1962 rubrics (from 1962-200X), the argument from “custom” is void. That is a case, by the way, with which I am intimately familiar. (The disobedience extends to using the “Benedicamus Domino” at all Masses during Lent and Advent, another practice which was deleted, and there are other seriously questionable practices which I won’t discuss here.)

    Then we have ‘disobedience’, plain and simple.

    And if one digs around enough, one discovers that the 3rd Confiteor had been dropped (de facto) in most cases because there WAS NO celebration of the EF from ~1969 to ~2000. How can one claim “uninterrupted custom” with a 30-year gap?

    The origin of the practice was thoroughly explained above–which also thoroughly explains the reason(s) it was dropped. (See Black Hat’s entry.)

  43. dad29 says:

    The Roman Ritual as late as 1964 still provides for the use of the Confiteor before the reception of Holy Communion by the faithful as an option

    That was covered under my entry for “Daily Communicants” who did NOT attend the entire Mass.

    You’re applying legislation to the wrong case.

  44. Fr_Sotelo says:

    dad29: Very good point. A custom is something that should endure for years, and yet if the EF has been gone all those years in most communities, how can one claim a “custom” as reason to continue the confiteor right before Communion?

    Beyond the issues of “oh well, it’s already a custom here” or “we don’t want to confuse the faithful” there is the tendency of priests to simply do what they wish to do at the liturgy. This is actually not willful disobedience. It is simply a tendency of many priests, both liberal and traditionalist, to do things during Mass that they sincerely believe are for the good of the faithful and fall under “epikeia” or prudential judgment. The thinking is to make up your mind on a liturgical practice, and then build a theological or legal rationalization around it, or find refuge in obscure indults, special permissions, etc. I find that disagreeable, but that is simply how priests tend to think when they deal with liturgical practices which they feel like/insist on doing.

  45. Alice says:

    Dad29,
    I believe that the SSPX has reinserted the pre-Communion Confiteor since their founding, so in some places it is “established custom.” If a priest in union with the local bishop offers the EF in a place where the SSPX has been established for a while, I can see why Rome might have given permission for this priest to reinsert this Confiteor. I just don’t know that Rome HAS given such permission and without it, it should not be done.

    Fr. Basil,
    Thank you for not ascribing to malice would could be ascribed to ignorance, but I am not sure that is always (or even often) the case. I can still get worked up about one book I read by a Latin Rite triumphalist who argued that since the Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom was only published 10 years before the Council of Trent, it didn’t fall under the established tradition exception or remembering how our priest told us that there were no rubrics in the Divine Liturgy so the priest was even freer to do whatever he wanted than in the Novus Ordo. Many people are ignorant about the different variants of the Western Mass, which are older than the Mass which Abp. Lefebvre called the “Mass of All-Time” but at least in the circles I found myself there was an active dislike for the non-Latin liturgies.

  46. dad29 says:

    This is actually not willful disobedience. It is simply a tendency of many priests, both liberal and traditionalist, to do things during Mass that they sincerely believe are for the good of the faithful and fall under “epikeia” or prudential judgment.

    Yes, well….

    Sometimes that ‘confiteor’ issue is part of a larger pattern of willful deviations from established norms, in which case(s) “closing one’s eyes” is imprudent–and people are obligated to speak out.

    I understand “pastoral” considerations. But at the same time, expecting the laity to live to standards and at the same time being a bit………flaccid……..seems to me to be a dangerous path. Which rules are to be obeyed? Which are to be gently ignored?

    And no, I’m not talking “salvation is at risk” here, but still……VatII places very great weight on the Mass.

  47. Fr_Sotelo says:

    dad29: And therein lies the controversy over the pre-Communion confiteor. There is an unspoken assumption in the EF Mass world that the present Magisterium should indeed be gently ignored, at times, in matters regarding the liturgy. To repeat a favorite mantra of many people, “the novus ordo is a big joke. What right do novus ordo hierarchy and priests have to question the Mass of the Ages?” Of course, Fr. Z doesn’t tolerate that disrespect in his blog, but it doesn’t mean that many folks do not quietly think that way towards the present Magisterium.

    I can understand why the FSSP would gravitate to reciting the last confiteor. The SSPX recite the pre-Communion confiteor, and for many they are still the true standard of what is Catholic. And sad to say, the FSSP is at times dogged with the accusation that they are not really as Catholic as the SSPX, that they are compromised, watered down, and not as free as SSPX to be true defenders of tradition. That is not my opinion, by the way; I deeply admire the FSSP. But if the FSSP tell their priests to not recite the pre-Communion confiteor, it does leave them vulnerable to the accusation that they are indult wannabees who are prepared to act just like the “indult priests” who are not true priests but “presbyters.” In some ways, reciting the pre-Communion confiteor is a way to say, “see, we still offer a true Catholic Mass.”

  48. wolfeken says:

    I still don’t buy, Joshua08, the argument that custom allows the final Confiteor to be sung in a non-pontifical High Mass. The missal is very clear as to what is sung and what is not. And it (or the Pontificale Ceremoniale) very clearly says the final Confiteor is to be sung at a pontifical High Mass.

    If a “custom” arises to sing this pontifical privilege at a regular High Mass, then what is to stop a “custom” of singing the final blessing?

    As far as those who claim the traditional Latin Mass was “gone” from 1969 to 2007′ish, it is possible that it was gone from your world, but recall the people who worked to get the 1970 Agatha Christie indult, the JPII 1984/88 indults and the Benedict motu proprio have been saying/hearing this Mass validly in one location or another non-stop. Please don’t assume the Mass magically re-started when you attended the novus ordo. To that end, it absolutely makes sense to say the old SCR permission for a final Confiteor still applies.

  49. dad29 says:

    In some ways, reciting the pre-Communion confiteor is a way to say, “see, we still offer a true Catholic Mass.”

    Umnnhhh….see today’s post on this very blog.

    “Every true reformer,” he wrote, “is obedient to the faith: he does not act in an arbitrary manner, he does not appropriate any discretion over the rite; he is not the owner, but the custodian of the treasury instituted by the Lord and entrusted to us. The whole Church is present in every liturgy: adhering to its form is a condition of authenticity for what is celebrated.

    —wherein “he” is B-16, speaking to the Bishops of Italy.

    There is no real dilemma here, just as there is no ‘dilemma’ in stating that “He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood…”. Either take it or leave it. There was no ‘pastoral shimmy’ in those words, good Father.

    By the way, I’m sure you’ve noticed that no one has YET come up with a citation “indulging” this practice. Moreover, it is irrelevant what SSPX does or did. Their abuse of the Liturgy cannot license another abuse of the Liturgy, can it?

    Ah, well.

  50. Joshua08 says:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R6AOvStZS64

    This video from the 1940′s shows the chanting of the 2nd confiteor. I again urge that people pick up a copy of O’Connell (pre-1962 versions are at least online) and read what he says of custom. Try to stop thinking like a modern about prescriptive law, and start thinking remembering that custom can even abrogate the laws of Councils, and is the best interpreter of laws and makes laws. As I said in my post above, I can only trust what I have been told when I inquired. It is extremely unhealthy, arrogant and misplaced for a layman to jump to accusing any of these priests of disobedience. If you go to a Mass where the 2nd confiteor is done, inquire if you must, but don’t presume that your amateur reading of rubrics is the end all and be all of how things are to be done. Or else get rid of processional crosses, using more than one server at a low Mass and various other things that are clearly customs against the rubrics.

    I do not claim to know with certitude that every use of the 2nd confiteor is legitimate. But it is not my worry or concern. I do know that both the SSPX and FSSP do it only where the congregation expects it….and considering that custom arises from the ground up, is not imposed by a priest and can gain the force of law even when against a law (depending on the case) I hesitate to censure anyone. The FSSP claims that Ecclesia Dei greenlighted this policy (see http://fssp-tulsa.org/bulletins/2010/PSP_bulletin_2010-01-10.pdf ). Perhaps they are lying. But that would be presumption to assume that. And again, rubrics are not like American law. Say the black, do the red has its use, but law in the Catholic sense is rooted in custom and not merely the vis verborum. For instance, a single genuflection is prescribed at benediction, but no one sane would rebuke a double genuflection there. Again, before the modifications of the GIRM in recent memory, we had the 1973 GIRM and against the rubric of that GIRM we continued kneeling after the Agnus Dei…Rome’s response? Perfectly alright to do! Heck, the new rubric is to bow (when standing) before receiving. But genuflection is fine (http://www.ewtn.com/expert/answers/cdw2000.htm)

    The short shrift: liturgical law, like any law really, is not just “black and red” in that what is “red” is in part determined, expanded, etc by custom

    BTW, the SSPX originally did not do the 2nd Confiteor. They bowed to the custom of places where they were establishing their apostolates. http://www.angelusonline.org/index.php?section=articles&subsection=print_article&article_id=2396

  51. dad29 says:

    It is extremely unhealthy, arrogant and misplaced for a layman to jump to accusing any of these priests of disobedience.

    Not if that layman is being advised by very senior liturgical Ph.D’s, fella.

    And please recall that one CAN licitly judge actions. When I see you fatally shoot your mother, I can say, with no hesitation, that you murdered your mother. There may be mitigating circumstances, but it doesn’t change the fact.

    The FSSP says they have a letter from E.D. allowing their variation. I’m willing to believe that. But that letter does NOT apply to others–and since we can’t see the letter, we don’t even know if it applies only to that particular parish, or to the FSSP in general, or to the FSSP only in the US.

  52. Joshua08 says:

    Who are you calling fella? Please sir, do not presume you are talking to an uneducated dolt. If letters after a name count, I am not without them.

    PhD’s in liturgy? I know a few myself (well more accurately S.T.L and S.T.D’s with a liturgical/sacramental theology emphasis). But most liturgists I know tend to think “traditional = bad” and also tend to have a very American understanding of the law. Note you have not addressed the issue of custom, which makes, abrogates and interprets laws. Church law is not as prescriptive as modern law.

    The fact is you have admitted, you do not know. So please stop calumny. You have not seen that letter right…maybe it lays down a general principle, may not. Who knows? I do not. But neither do you. And if it is a personal rescript one can possibly argue they would get the same response (assuming similar circumstances) and act on it. Who are you to say it does not apply? Church law is, despite its codification, not yet modern, despite your protestations.

    And again, do you work at suppressing having two servers at low Mass? Not only is that against the rubrics, but on several occasions (e.g. 1953) the SRC reprobated the use of more than one with certain exceptions. There you have a clear and unequivocal abuse. Now go at it and foam at the mouth and cry abuse. Take away those processional crosses, and tackle servers that carry the thurible during the recessional and fight against all those horrendous abuses.

    What no? No one cares about the fact that those practices are contra rubricam? Instead they like to attack only the issue of the second confiteor? Why is that?

  53. dad29 says:

    Custom?

    It is clear that in the vast majority of the cases here and abroad, “custom” has nothing to do with it.

    You claim that “custom” is in place when the EF was not celebrated for 30 (or more) years. Well, OK. Then perhaps the custom of celebrating Mass on the hood of a Jeep for armed forces should be revived. It’s only been in dis-use since the end of the Korean War, after all.

    Curious that you crusade against one “custom”–that of using 2 altar servers–while frothing and spittle-spewing over those who are disturbed by another “custom.”

    Calumniator, indeed.