Sacraments of Initiation
Part 2 History

Chapter i20 Summary History of  Christian Initiation


 


 


 


 


 


 


 

The Reconciliation of Penitents
Part Three:  Reconciling

Chapter 17 Concluding the Prayer of Thanksgiving

Historical Survey

Documentation

Pastoral Reflection

Suggested Questions for Discussion

Historical Survey

In our Roman worship tradition, each part of a rite is brought to its conclusion by a prayer proclaimed in the name of the entire assembly by the one presiding. For example at Sunday eucharist, the gathering rites are concluded by the "Opening Prayer" (the "Collect"); the preparation rite is concluded by the "Prayer over the Gifts". We would expect, then, that the Rite of Penance would provide a presidential prayer to conclude this part of the celebration.

During the period of canonical penance the "Prayer After Communion" was added to the eucharist. First appearing in the fifth century, this prayer petitions that the graces of the eucharist -- unity, peace, reconciliation -- be carried forth as we leave the eucharistic assembly and take effect in our daily lives. During the season of Lent a second prayer was added. It was introduced by the deacon's instruction "Bow your heads and pray for God's blessing." This prayer was a special petition for the order of penitents and was a parallel to the prayer at the end of the liturgy of the word which dismissed the catechumens. The prayer continued to be a part of the Roman Mass long after the order of penitents disappeared from the Church and was known as the "Prayer over the People."

The tariff system of penance did not contain a presidential prayer at this point of the rite. The modern system of confession already in the thirteenth century directed that the "Passion" prayer be recited by the priest after the absolution formula:

May the passion of our Lord Jesus Christ,
the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and of all the saints,
whatever good you do and suffering you endure,
heal your sins,
help you to grow in holiness,
and reward you with eternal life.

This prayer was intended to connect the effects of the sacrament with the continual "doing good" and "enduring suffering" of our daily lives. However this prayer was optional and could be omitted for a just cause; it was omitted frequently and consequently did not form an important part of the confessional experience of many Catholics.

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Documentation

Rite of Penance

57. After the song of praise or the litany, the priest concludes the common prayer.

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Pastoral Reflection

Several texts for this concluding prayer are given in the rite, for example:

Father, all-powerful and ever-living God,
we do well always and everywhere to give you thanks.
When you punish us, you show you justice;
when you pardon us, you show your kindness;
yet always your mercy enfolds us.
When you chastise us, you do not wish to condemn us;
when you spare us, you give us time to make amends for our sins
through Christ our Lord.
R. Amen. (207)

or

God and Father of us all,
you have forgiven our sins
and sent us your peace.
Help us to forgive each other
and to work together to establish peace in the world.
We ask this through Christ our Lord.
R. Amen. (211)

This prayer of the presiding priest, offered in the name of the entire assembly, thanks God for the blessings received in this sacrament and petitions that the effects of the sacrament might be carried forth into our daily lives.

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Suggested Questions for Discussion

Do you experience these prayers as an effective conclusion to the rite?

Where should the priest stand for this prayer?

Should the prayer be sung?

Should the prayer be preceded by a period of silence, as are the prayers at the opening and closing of the eucharist?

If there are announcements to be made, should this be done before or after this concluding prayer?

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Copyright: Tom Richstatter, Franciscan Province of St. John the Baptist, Cincinnati Ohio, Order of Friars Minor. All Rights Reserved.  This page was created by Fr. Thomas Richstatter, O.F.M.  Every effort has been, and is being made, to acknowledge sources when the ideas are not my own.  Any failure to comply with the United States Copyright Act (Title 17, United States Code) will be corrected immediately should I become aware of it.  This site was updated on 03/20/15 .  Your comments on this site are welcome at tomrichs@psci.net.