The Confiteor: Pray for me to the Lord our God
At Holy Mass, we often pray as part of the penitential rite, what is called “Le Confiteor”, which translates as “I confess”. The Penitential Rite is prayed from the beginning of the Mass before entering into the Liturgy of the Word and the Liturgy of the Eucharist. Entering into the Sacred Mystery of the Mass, we must pray for the forgiveness of all our sins. The Confiteor is a general confession and the part where all our venial sins are forgiven so that we are ready to receive Jesus, our Eucharistic Lord.
However, as an important note, if we have sinned mortally, we must go to the Sacrament of Reconciliation (Confession), to be absolved of those more serious sins before taking Jesus into Holy Communion.
In praying the Confiteor, there is something we are asking for. In exchange, we also receive a request. We pray, “therefore, I ask Blessed Mary, still a virgin, all the angels and saints, and you my brothers and sisters to pray for me to the Lord our God”.
Usually, when I pray the Confiteor, I pray for myself and I count on the prayers of Mary, of all the Angels and Saints, and of you, my brothers and sisters. I ask you to pray for me. But I believe that the Holy Spirit also enlightens me to be faithful to my words when I pray to the Confiteor. I don’t just ask you to pray for me, but that I pray for you.
Do I pray for all those in the pews at Mass? For each person who prays the Confiteor with me asks me to pray for him to the Lord our God. It does not depend only on Mary, the angels and the saints. God designed me to also play an active role.
me and jesus
The Confiteor is not just about me, although I often think and act as if it is just about me. I slap my chest and say, “By my fault, by my fault, by my most serious fault…” I recognize that I am coming before the Lord and confessing my guilt. I focus on my reconciliation with God before going to mass.
This concentration on myself is usual. Perhaps you have heard of a “Me and Jesus” spirituality, which I totally struggle with. It’s a spirituality in which no one else really matters, as long as everything is fine with me and Jesus. However, if we really know Jesus, we will discover that it is not “me and him”, but “he and us”. All of us; the whole Church.
It’s easy at Mass to focus on myself. But I feel challenged to look around me, especially during the Confiteor, to pray for all who are present, as requested. During the peace exchange, it’s another good opportunity to take a look at all the people who have asked me to pray for them in the Confiteor. I can give the assurance of my love and prayers for our parishioners during the peace sign by looking into their eyes and the warmth of my face.
The mass is not about me and Jesus. It’s about Jesus and the whole congregation…and more!
The Communion of Saints
The Communion of Saints is made up of the Church Militant – we on earth, who are still on our way to heaven, the Church Waiting – those in purgatory who wait for heaven, and the Church Triumphant – the Angels and Saints who are in heaven.
More concretely, at Holy Mass we can recognize that we are part of the Communion of Saints. It is certainly not only me present with Jesus. It is the thousands that are visible and invisible. They are those who are in heaven and those who are on their way to heaven.
Therefore, when we say, “I confess to Almighty God, and to you, my brothers and sisters…” we are speaking to the entire Communion of Saints.
We, our, us
In the Confiteor we say: “… how much I have sinned”. We not only confess to God that we have sinned, but we confess it to each other. Maybe it’s because Jesus taught us to pray that way. A direct prayer of Jesus in the Gospels is the “Our Father”. It is not titled “My Father” or “Your Father”. It is “Our Father, who art in heaven… Give we this day our daily bread and forgiveness we our transgress as we forgive those who transgress we. And drive we not in temptation, but deliver we of (evil emphasis added).
Interestingly, we pray the “Our Father” before receiving Holy Communion. Again, the Mass is not just about “me and Jesus”. When we pray at Mass, we pray that the Father will give us all of us Our daily bread. The sins we confessed in the Confiteor are, in a sense, brought to our attention when we say “forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.”
Pay attention to all parts of the Mass. Listen to the text of the Confiteor. What are you actually saying? What are the readings in the Liturgy of the Word about? Do we realize what we are doing and what our neighbor is doing when we go up to Communion during the liturgy of the Eucharist? We will discover that the Holy Mass is God coming all of us, inviting us to react actively.