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BRIEF HISTORY OF THE PENITENTIAL ACT
An ancient document called the Didache (c. 60) noted that the people came together on the Lord’s Day and gave thanks “after first confessing their sins.” For many centuries, the Mass had no penitential rite. The Confiteor was part of the private prayers said by the priest and the ministers at the foot of the altar. After Vatican II, a brief penitential rite was added that had its source in both Scripture (Matthew 5:23-25) and tradition (cf. The Mystery of Faith by Lawrence Johnson, page 13).
Source- Catholic Herald, Magazine of the Diocese of Sacramento, CA
THE PENITENTIAL ACT
After the Procession and opening greeting,
the Presider invites the faithful to the Penitential Act by saying:
"Brethren (brothers and sisters), let us acknowledge our sins,
and so prepare ourselves to celebrate the sacred mysteries."
A brief pause for silence follows.
Then all recite together the formula of general confession:
I confess to almighty God
and to you, my brothers and sisters,
that I have greatly sinned,
in my thoughts and in my words,
in what I have done and
in what I have failed to do,
And, striking their breast, they say:
through my fault, through my fault,
through my most grievous fault;
Then they continue:
therefore I ask blessed Mary ever-Virgin,
all the Angels and Saints,
and you, my brothers and sisters,
to pray for me to the Lord, our God.
The absolution by the Presider follows:
May almighty God have mercy on us,
forgive us our sins,
and bring us to everlasting life.
The people reply: