In Paul Turner's Blog by Paul Turner

Q: A young person mentioned a practice of the priest at my neighboring parish.  Should this person arrive at Sunday Mass aware of a sin, this person is to receive Holy Communion.  Then, immediately after Mass is to approach the priest and ask for absolution.  Not to celebrate the Sacrament of Penance immediately after Mass but to receive absolution.  

That practice is curious but is not the subject of the following question.  What a padre does in his own parish is one thing.  

Please note – we did not study Latin at the seminary.  I include the Latin phrases simply for clarity.  

This story from the neighboring parish did brought back memories of the Missal of Pope St. Pius V.  In that Missal during the Prayers at the Foot of the Altar the priest received the Confiteor and the server responded, “Misereatur tui omnipotens Deus, et, dimissis peccatis tuis, perducat te ad vitam”.  (May Almighty God have mercy on you, forgive you your sins and bring you to life everlasting). 

Then the server recited the Confiteor and the priest responds, “Misereatur vestri omnipotens Deus, et, dimissis peccatis vestris, perducat vos ad vitam aeternam”.

Then the priest immediately said while making the sign of the cross, “Indulgentiam, absolutionem et dimissionem peccatorum nostrorum tribuat nobis omnipotens et misericors Dominus (May the Almighty and Merciful Lord grant you pardon, + absolution, and remission of your sins.)  

The priest repeated this absolution to the server immediately after the priest received the Precious Blood and before the server/faithful receive Holy Communion.  

The statement in the 1570 Missal which the priest says to the server and then the server says back to the priest is carried through in the 1969 Missal, “Miseratur nostril omnipotens Deus et, dimissis peccatis nostris, perducat nos ad vitam aeternam” to conclude all three forms of the Penitential Act.  

Back to “Indulgentiam, absolutionem…….”  Any insights as to why that statement of absolution was in the Missal of 1570 and any insights as to why it was dropped in the 1969 Missal?  A priest friend who studied and is permitted to offer Mass according to the 1962 Missal commented on the absolution given to the server/faithful just before they receive Holy Communion is in case anyone had an impure thought between the Prayers at the Foot of the Altar and the reception of Holy Communion.


A: The opening story you tell seems totally illicit to me. A priest is not to give absolution without hearing a confession, apart from truly exceptional circumstances. Going to Mass aware of a sin sounds pretty ordinary to me.

The confiteor appeared in the preconciliar missal as part of the prayers at the foot of the altar. The reason the confiteor appeared again before communion is because the Ordo of Mass in force made no provision for the communion of faithful—only for the communion of the priest. The faithful could receive communion outside Mass according to a section of the Roman Ritual. So the priest paused the Mass after he received communion, used the ritual for communion outside Mass for the faithful, which began with the confiteor and continued with the distribution of previously consecrated hosts from the tabernacle, and then the priest resumed the Mass.

You can imagine that this was one of the practices that caused great concern in the Eucharistic revival better known as the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy (55).