QUAERITUR: About the 2nd Confiteor

From a reader:

Can a preist decide to have second confiteor as a holy jester before holy communion.

The 1962 edition of the Missale Romanum does not mention the 2nd Confiteor or any sort of gesture.  I assume from that silence that there should not be one.

I am not sure how such a jester would be handled.  In the different places I have been, it is sometimes the custom to have the jester and sometimes not.  You never know what is going to happen.  Jesters are habitually unpredictable.  You have to handle all liturgical jesters with great care.  Don’t clown around during Mass with liturgical jesters.

Certainly I have had some deacons were were amusing gentlemen and, during a Solemn Mass, they were assigned the task of singing the so-called 2nd Confiteor.

Otherwise, I suppose there could be, instead of the biretta, a sort of jester’s cap involved, with those variously-colored dangling things.  I have known deacons and subdeacons for that matter who were little better than prating coxcombs.  The only problem is that, at the time you would have the 2nd Confiteor, the Blessed Sacrament is upon the altar.  In the presence of the Blessed Sacrament, you cannot cover even with a miter, much less a coxcomb!   Not that I am trying to suggest a moral equivalence between miters and coxcombs, mind you.

Maybe one could use one of those hand held jester’s heads?  Not sure.  It seems somehow… what’s the word… undignified?  Still, if you choose to use one of those, for the love of all that’s holy don’t use one with bells on it after the Gloria of Holy Thursday!  What a scandal that would be!

That said, it may be possible to obtain permission from the Holy See to have a such a jester.

I believe you would submit your petition in writing … on foolscap.

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About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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46 Responses to QUAERITUR: About the 2nd Confiteor

  1. Choirmaster says:

    Foolscap. Nice.

  2. It is my understanding that the “second Confiteor,” while omitted from the 1962 Missale Romanum, is officially tolerated in those settings where it has been in use for some time.

    It was originally the preparation for a separate “communion of the faithful,” which would take place outside of Mass. (In the text of the altar missal, you will only find the communion of the priest.) By the mid-20th century, the communion of the faithful was the norm, not the exception, and so the 1960 Code of Rubrics omitted it. This became effective with the 1962 Missal.

    Personally, I could make the case one way or the other for it. We do not use it at the parish where i serve. I do say it quietly to myself, whether serving or in the pews. Can’t say I’m familiar with the role of a jester in the liturgy, though, unless you are referring to an entire generation of pastors back where I grew up. But … I suspect not.

  3. shortside40 says:

    ‘Foolscap’ is my favorite jest in there.

  4. HyacinthClare says:

    The misspelling of “gesture” certainly inspired some extended hilarity… at least, I THINK that’s what was originally meant…

  5. asophist says:

    I don’t think that having jesters for the “second” Confiteor would be a good gesture.

  6. BaedaBenedictus says:

    Who says there isn’t diversity in the traditional rite?

    I was a witness to one of Fr. Z’s Masses where the deacon sang the Second Confiteor.

    I also sometimes go to a Sunday TLM in which the celebrant says everything (even the Secret and the Consecration!) out loud in his microphone. And the congregation makes all the responses, even during the Prayers at the Foot of the Altar and the entire Pater Noster. And the readings are done in English only (no Latin first; Douay-Rheims translation, not the NAB, thank G0d).

    I’ve also seen TLMs which seemed more like 1965 (no Prayers at the Foot of the Altar, some vernacular Propers).

    I’ve heard of TLMs (under diocesan auspices) being celebrated where the 1955 books are followed.

    1962 is the benchmark because of +Marcel Lefebvre, but it is interesting to see that even now there are variations. I’d say I’ve seen the Second Confiteor about 80% of the time at traditional Masses I’ve been to.

  7. FrCharles says:

    Since we Friars Minor enjoy the ancient privilege of mentioning St. Francis in the Confiteor (i.e. …beato Patri nostro Francisco…beatum Patrem nostrum Franciscum) after Peter and Paul, and because Francis himself has been called the giullare di Dio, it would seem that we already have a jester for the first Confiteor and hardly need to worry about jesting a second one.

  8. JohnMa says:

    This is number one on my list of things to ask a priest when serving Mass for them for the first time. “Pater, would you like a 2nd confiteor? Do you prefer the ceremonial kisses be made? Would you like to say the optional prayers after Mass? Do you want an extra candle on the altar from the Sanctus until the Communion?” That normally covers all of the differences that I see during EF Masses.

  9. Henry Edwards says:

    Newcomers to traditional Latin Mass intricacies sometimes ask such a question of apparent old-timers like me. I have never personally consulted the Vatican, but occasionally I pass on such a question to Father Z (and he has even given unambiguous answers to a few). However, when such an august source seems unnecessary, for a quick simple answer I usually just ask an FSSP priest.

    Offhand, I don’t recall ever seeing an FSSP-celebrated high Mass without a so-called 2nd confiteor (or by any priest of any other traditional society), though I don’t claim to remember this for every low Mass ever attended. Certainly, I have never seen a TLM celebrated by or in the presence of a bishop or cardinal without a 2nd confiteor.

    All that said, however, the 2nd confiteor doesn’t usually appear in TLM’s celebrated by ordinary parish priests who Say the Black, Do the Red. But what any of this proves, if anything, I don’t know.

  10. sherrybella says:

    As a new convert and still in rcia, you do force me out into the net to learn something new all the time!! This was so amusing to read about the jester before any comments were posted and going all around trying to find out what the confiteor

  11. Henry Edwards says:

    BaedaBenedictus: 1962 is the benchmark because of +Marcel Lefebvre

    Who–to top off all the rich TLM diversity you mention–at least initially (I understand) accepted the so-called 1965 Mass with no Judica me psalm at the beginning, no Final Gospel at the end, and allowance for vernacular and versus populum between.

  12. Centristian says:

    “I also sometimes go to a Sunday TLM in which the celebrant says everything (even the Secret and the Consecration!) out loud in his microphone. And the congregation makes all the responses, even during the Prayers at the Foot of the Altar and the entire Pater Noster. And the readings are done in English only (no Latin first; Douay-Rheims translation, not the NAB, thank G0d).”

    Really? Wow. That’s magnificent. I’ve seen this only once before, at an SSPX house in Quebec; the readings were in French. I was shocked, but delighted.

    You’re very fortunate, I think, to have this sort of Mass available to you as a regular option.

  13. sherrybella says:

    As a new convert and still in rcia, you do force me out into the net to learn something new all the time!! This was so amusing to read about the jester before any comments were posted and going all around trying to find out what the confiteor was to start with, and then to see what was up with having jesters??? Oh my gosh! Auto-text correct at it again! When I got back after trying to see why in the world the mass would ever have jesters made me howl with laughter when I saw the comment about gestures. I really like reading this blog, there is so much to be taken seriously and thankfully some great humor. I really do learn something because I am a new convert and love what I’m learning so much. Thank you Fr. Z. [My work here is done.]

  14. wchoag says:

    Are we not really speaking here of a THIRD Confiteor in the Mass? [Whatever.]

    That said, it seems the norm at Masses of the SSPX whose usage is officially that of the ’62 recension. I do wish that someone whose–if even in JEST–produce a “Missale Econensis” in order to document the SSPX-style liturgy–part 62, part pre-55, part (?). Of course the General Rubrics will insist that all pronunciations be according to the Gallic style with gutteral Rs and nasal Ns.

  15. moon1234 says:

    I think what it may prove is that many traditional orders privately would prefer to use the 1955 missal with the addition of saints up to 1962. Holy Week has just not been the same along with many other small details.

    The winds of change started sweeping through after 1955 with changes almost every few years.

    I personally really like the 2nd confiteor. I think it is nice that I get any venial sins wiped away before I go to communion. It seems that the “eliminate everything that even closely seems redundant” was the motto that swept the 50’s and 60’s before the Paul VI missal.

  16. dans0622 says:

    Mr. Edwards,
    I think commentary on a previous post on this topic established that the FSSP tend to maintain “customs” in regard to the use of this confiteor. At their parish in Ottawa, they never included it in any of the Masses I attended (perhaps 75), whether pontifical or low or anything in between.
    –Dan

  17. dans0622 says:

    Anyway, pretty funny Fr. Z.

  18. benedetta says:

    I am in stichos…

  19. Centristian says:

    “It seems that the “eliminate everything that even closely seems redundant” was the motto that swept the 50?s and 60?s before the Paul VI missal.”

    I would say that the thrust of the good liturgical reform efforts was to clarify the Roman Rite and to make it more Roman and less Gallican. The second confiteor, I think, is a good example of how the flow of the liturgy was disrupted by superfluities. The pentitential rite has already occurred at the beginning of the liturgy. With the second confiteor, we inexplicably return to the penitential rite, as though it was somehow incomplete or insufficient the first time around.

    The elimination of the second confiteor was a reform that made sense, and which made more sense of the liturgy, as a whole.

  20. Stu says:

    Every Mass I have ever attended has had at least one jester (fool) present. I just can’t shake that guy.

  21. Thomas G. says:

    Rapacious jackanapes.

  22. RichardT says:

    Centristian said (3:18 pm) ” With the second confiteor, we inexplicably return to the penitential rite, as though it was somehow incomplete or insufficient the first time around.”

    I always assumed it was to deal with the mental sins committed whilst listening to the sermon.

  23. RichardT says:

    And thank you to HyacinthClare (2:08 pm); I was wondering what I’d missed here.

  24. RichardT says:

    A handheld jester’s head would be better than an inflated pig’s bladder on a stick. Even if the stick were in the correct liturgical colours. [But perhaps not on Friday of Lent.]

  25. Fr. W says:

    1962 Missale rubric #503:

    ‘Quoties sancta Communio infra Missam distribuitur, clebrans, sumpto sacratissimo Sanguine, OMISSIS CONFESSIONE ET ABSOLUTIONE, dictis tamen Ecce Agnus Dei….’

    Is this not an explicit statement?

  26. “It seems that the ‘eliminate everything that even closely seems redundant’ was the motto that swept the 50?s and 60?s before the Paul VI missal.”

    Not necessarily. Click here.

  27. RichardT says:

    But Father, a pig’s bladder on a stick would be allowed when St. Patrick’s Day falls in Lent. [Yes… yes… that’s seem appropriate.]

  28. mibethda says:

    I had thought the liturgical function of the jester was to bear the celebrant’s beretta.

  29. Fr. W: Is this not an explicit statement?

    It is explicit. Explicit or not, some choose to ignore that rubric.

  30. Daniel Latinus says:

    ISTM, that at Low Masses, a case can be made for eliminating the Confiteor before Communion, because the people should have recited the Confiteor at the beginning of Mass. But at sung Masses, it would be appropriate to retain the Confiteor before Communion, because the people should have been singing the introit during the prayers at the foot of the altar.

    But this should properly be authorized by the competent authorities.

  31. TNCath says:

    Would the color of the jester’s cap be violet if the jester happened to be an honorary prelate or bishop and red if the jester happens to be a cardinal? Or are jesters usually priests or deacons whose jester’s caps would always be black?

  32. asophist says:

    Hmmm… the old “second Confiteor” conundrum. Some like it, some don’t. The 1962 rubrics say “don’t”. I like it. I think was raised in the 1950’s with it. Back then, I was taught that the Confiteor was recited by the altar servers before communion as being their personal recitation of that prayer for themselves; whereas, during the prayers at the foot of the altar, the servers recited the confiteor on behalf of the faithful. I wonder what Fr. Fortesque has to say about this?

  33. dcs says:

    I personally like the “2nd” Confiteor, but then the Mass isn’t about my personal preferences. That said, I would certainly not want to assist at a Mass in which the priest wore a microphone and said everything out loud. One of the reasons why I no longer assist at the Novus ordo regularly is all the talking.

  34. Geoffrey says:

    I was first attracted to the “old” Mass because of the faithful adherence to the rubrics, and get annoyed with the “Second/Third Confiteor”. So much for “saying the black, doing the red”!

  35. 1987 says:

    In a Mass booklet of my chapel it is written that the Confiteor before the Communion of the faithful was not foreseen in the ’62 Missal, but it was later allowed by the Pontifical Commision Ecclesia Dei. We do say it.

    Reform of the (early) reform?

  36. Jest to get this on record.

    The “second” Confiteor was also explicitly suppressed for the Dominican Rite in the rubrical changes of 1960. Bad enough, but they then introduced the wholly Roman “Ecce Agnus Dei” and its threefold response. Frankly, I would much prefer that that Ecce be suppressed, but it is there. I say both the Confiteor and the Ecce and the serves respond (when there is a chant, quietly enough so that it is hidden by the music).

    Nevertheless, when I arrive to supply at a church using the EF, I always ask what the custom is — as I too have read an ED decision a year or two ago saying that there is no problem with the Confiteor “if it is the local custom.” If it is the custom, I use it, otherwise not. How is that for pastoral sensitivity? Don’t say the Dominican Rite lacks variety …

  37. Jason Keener says:

    It’s my opinion that if anyone is still doing the Second Confiteor, they should stop doing it. Say the Black, and Do the Red. It really is as simple as that! The Roman Rite will become even more confused if different parishes and different religious orders begin retaining this or that feature they liked from previous Missals. We’ve all complained about the liberals violating the rubrics of Pope Paul VI’s Missal. We are no better if we violate the rubrics of the 1962 Missal by doing the Second Confiteor, which I do happen to like. If you feel the Second Confiteor should be included in the 1962 Missal, then petition the Holy Father for a change to the Missal.

  38. Whoever decided the second confiteor was redundant, was obviously an only child. There’s chances for venial sins galore during Mass, not to mention all the mental sins (and not just among kids, either). It stopped way before my time, but I can see the utility. (Though obviously it wouldn’t solve the “I’m too angry at you to go to Communion fittingly” problem.)

    Of course, probably the kind of folks who found it redundant are the same kind of people who think everybody should go up for Communion, because you couldn’t possibly have sinned gravely at all….

  39. Nora says:

    I love you, Father, and pray for your intentions at Mass every day.

  40. MattW says:

    ROFL

  41. disco says:

    The second confiteor is not redundant on days like Ash Wednesday where there are no prayers at the foot of the altar.

  42. teaguytom says:

    The FSSP chaplain of our community allows the second confiteor every sung mass. The servers kneel at the base of the steps and recite it as father finished consuming the precious blood. He then turns to face the congregation, not just the servers and gives the blessing. Apparently the reformers weren’t hardline enough yet to just forbid the use of it altogether as redundant. They just merely dropped it from the new missal like magic. The obsessive notion of the liberal reformers to simplify any repetitive actions was a bit much. Its like saying we don’t have to Genuflect when passing the tabernacle because we already did it once. Or we already blessed ourselves before praying, we shouldn’t do it after we prayed because its too repetitive. Leave the overt simplicity to John Calvin.

  43. Tony Layne says:

    “I had thought the liturgical function of the jester was to bear the celebrant’s beretta.”

    I was waiting for that reference …. I was thinking that the proper display of the beretta would dispense with the jester’s presence in the liturgy.

  44. “I wonder what Fr. Fortesque has to say about this?”

    Probably something along the lines of this.

  45. Centristian says:

    “The obsessive notion of the liberal reformers to simplify any repetitive actions was a bit much. Its like saying we don’t have to Genuflect when passing the tabernacle because we already did it once. Or we already blessed ourselves before praying, we shouldn’t do it after we prayed because its too repetitive. Leave the overt simplicity to John Calvin.”

    Well, I think there’s a difference between insisting upon following a logical liturgical order and mere over-simplification. Some of the repetitive actions were a bit much, the second confiteor being a perfect case in point. I don’t think omitting a redundant second confiteor is like saying we don’t have to genuflect when passing the tabernacle because we already did it once. We are expected to genuflect whenever we pass a tabernacle because Christ is sacramentally present.

    The liturgy, however, shouldn’t be expected to back up over itself and return to a point that it had already gotten past. The penitential prayers (including the only portion of the Roman Rite that remains in Greek) and absolution formula completed at the beginning of the Mass become meaningless if for some reason we have to do it all over again before Communion. The liturgical order suddenly becomes disrupted. Order becomes disorder. Furthermore, there is an over-emphasis on the penitential that distorts the spirit of the liturgy. At some point, we have to move beyond penitence, into forgiveness, and onward to Communion and the promise of Resurrection, of beatitude.

    There is a flow to the liturgy that has to be observed. The clarity of Roman liturgy is not Calvinistic, it’s completely Roman. The Gallican influences on the liturgy over the years ought to have been cleaned up. The over-emphasis on the penitential, the anti-Roman lack of logical order, all needed reform.

    Look at the Last Gospel as another example of liturgical chaos. The reading of the Gospel occurred in the Mass of the Catechumens. Now we have completed the sacrifice, we have communicated, we are concluding our worship, we are actually dismissed by the celebrant who bids us “go! The Mass is over!” No sooner does he command us to leave than he compells us to remain…by beginning a second Gospel reading.

    It wasn’t the mind of a Calvinist that fixed those violations of the logical ordering of the liturgy, but the mind of a Roman.

  46. mike cliffson says:

    ¡Beau geste !