Q: Please also confirm the number of penitential ‘acts’ within the Mass. My understanding is that the Sign of Peace is penitential, not a cheerio call to fellow pew dwellers. I surmise that “Lord I am not worthy…” is also penitential in nature. Is this correct?
A: There is only one penitential act properly called, taking place near the beginning of Mass. The sign of peace is not penitential. As I point out in my book Let Us Pray, the Order of Mass 128 calls it a sign of “peace, communion and charity.” It is one of the signs of communion that lead up to sacramental communion. It declares a peace that exists, not one that has been missing.
The priest and people make many statements of repentance during the Mass, but they are not properly called penitential acts.