Q: Our worship committee has used several of your books for study including Understanding the Revised Mass Texts and Let Us Pray. I thought that you might be willing to address a liturgy question.
We are having a discussion amongst our staff concerning the Holy Thursday Mass and whether there should be the act of penitence at the beginning. One of our associate priests decided that he wanted to include it in the Holy Thursday liturgy the past two years. The Roman Missal has no indication that it should be done. It is glaringly absent from the rite. Neither is it mentioned in any of the rubrics that there is an option for this.
By looking at various worship aids in PDF form that are posted online in some parishes or cathedrals, I see that some parishes include the act of penitence in their Holy Thursday Masses. If this is permissible, why does the Roman Missal not indicate this as an option on Holy Thursday before the Gloria? Is it addressed somewhere else? Any insight that you can provide would be appreciated. Thank you for your time.
Thanks for using my books and reaching out with this question.
The evening mass of the Lord’s Supper should include the penitential act and the Kyrie. It’s not mentioned in the missal because the missal just gives you the parts of the mass that are unusual. For example, it does not tell you to start with the sign of the cross and the greeting, or that two readings will precede the gospel. It’s just filling in the pieces where there may be questions. Because the Gloria is such a variable component of mass, the missal tells you that it will be used.
It presumes you know when: after the penitential act, as would normally happen.
I did not specifically treat this in my book Glory in the Cross
, but you can find more on Holy Week there.