Venerable Bruno’s method: Penitential Rite

Note: Part 4 on a series on the Mass.  Read the first part here. For an overview of Venerable Bruno’s method, go here. For a PDF of the method, click here.

Venerable Bruno Lanteri writes in his Spiritual Directory, “At the Introit I will have the sentiments and the heart of the publican.”  In his directory for the Oblates of the Virgin Mary, he changes it to the following: “At the Confiteor they should kindle in themselves the sentiments of the publican.”

Background: Extraordinary Form of the Mass (Tridentine Mass)

Because Venerable Bruno wrote his preparation for the Tridentine Mass, it would be good to see what is going on at this point in the extraordinary form of the Mass.

The Introit is the entrance antiphon for the Mass.  During a High Mass, the choir chants the Introit while the priest and server proceed through the beginning of Mass.  After praying Psalm 43 (42), the priest joins his hands, bows to the altar and says the Confiteor (“I confess to Almighty God …”).  The servers follow suit.  He walks up to the altar and reverence it with a kiss.  He prays the Introit.  He and the servers alternate in saying, “Lord, have mercy … Christ, have mercy … Lord, have mercy.”  During a High Mass, the choir chants the “Lord, have mercy.”

Lesson: How sorry am I for my sins?

At the beginning of Mass, the priest invites the congregation to ask God to forgive their sins so they can worship Him in the Mass.  There are three forms of the pentitential rite.  The first retains the Confiteor from the Tridentine Mass.  The priest gives the absolution and everyone joins in the “Lord, have mercy” if the third form isn’t chosen.

But how quickly can we gloss over this part of the Mass?  We don’t recognize how beautiful the gift of mercy God is giving us.  Just because we’re at Mass, we assume we can receive Communion.  

Venerable Bruno recommends having the sentiments of the tax collector.  In Luke 18, the Pharisee prays in praise of his achievements.  But the tax collector doesn’t raise his eyes.  But he beats his breast and prays, “God, have mercy on me, a sinner.” The irony is that Jesus judges that the tax collector goes home justified and not the Pharisee.  The tax collector understands his sinfulness and brokenness.  He extorted money from the people.  He has no recourse to God, except to his mercy.

Jesus wants to help us and heal us.  But we first must admit that we have been broken by our own sins.  The tax collector understands that he needs God.  The Pharisee didn’t.

The priest will pause between the invitation to acknowledge our sins and start of the Confiteor.  That is the perfect moment to foster the sentiments of the tax collector.  It can be quick.  Think of a short phrase: “Like the tax collector.”  How would you beat your breast while saying “through my fault, through my fault, through my most grievous fault”?  Maybe Venerable Bruno shifted the focus from the Introit to the Confiteor because that prayer better captures the sentiments of the tax collector.

Please remember that for any mortal sins, you have to go to Confession first before going to Communion.  Don’t let the sin or any feeling of shame connected to it hold you back.  God’s infinite mercy swallows it up.

Scripture passages for prayer:

  1. Luke 18:9-14
  2. Luke 19:1-10
  3. Psalm 51

Reflection questions:

  1. How much confidence do you have in God’s mercy?
  2. When have you fallen short in being a Christian?
  3. How can you frequent the Sacrament of Reconciliation more often?




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