Monday, January 31, 2011

Why Do We Sometimes Pray The Kyrie and Sometimes We Don't?

Q - Why do we sometimes pray the Confiteor and other times we pray the Kyrie during Mass? Thanks!


A - Thanks for the question. There might be a bit of confusion about what we ought to do during the Penitential Rite and the Kyrie.

Here is what the General Instruction of the Roman Missal (the document that lays out the order of Mass) says about this part of the Mass - I have underlined the part that might help you understand what is going on.
The Act of Penitence

51. Then the priest invites those present to take part in the Act of Penitence, which, after a brief pause for silence, the entire community carries out through a formula of general confession. The rite concludes with the priest's absolution, which, however, lacks the efficacy of the Sacrament of Penance.

On Sundays, especially in the Season of Easter, in place of the customary Act of Penitence, from time to time the blessing and sprinkling of water to recall Baptism may take place.

The Kyrie Eleison

52. After the Act of Penitence, the Kyrie is always begun, unless it has already been included as part of the Act of Penitence. Since it is a chant by which the faithful acclaim the Lord and implore his mercy, it is ordinarily done by all, that is, by the people and with the choir or cantor having a part in it.

As a rule, each acclamation is sung or said twice, though it may be repeated several times, by reason of the character of the various languages, as well as of the artistry of the music or of other circumstances. When the Kyrie is sung as a part of the Act of Penitence, a trope may precede each acclamation.
So, there are three options for the penitential rite, they are as follows and then I include the options for the Kyrie as well:
Option A (the Confiteor):
All: I confess to almighty God, and to you, my brothers and sisters, that I have sinned through my own fault, in my thoughts and in my words, in what I have done, and in what I have failed to do; and I ask blessed Mary, ever virgin, all the angels and saints, and you, my brothers and sisters, to pray for me to the Lord, our God.
Priest: May almighty God have mercy on us, forgive us our sins, and bring us to everlasting life.
All: Amen.

Option B:
Priest: Lord, we have sinned against you: Lord, have mercy.
All: Lord, have mercy.
Priest: Lord, show us your mercy and love.
All: And grant us your salvation.
Priest: May almighty God have mercy on us, forgive us our sins, and bring us to everlasting life.
All: Amen.

Option C (has 8 different sets of invocations, this is just one - also, they can make their own invocations, if suitable.):
[The following or other invocations may be spoken by the priest or another minister, but the priest always gives the final blessing.]
Minister: You raise the dead to life in the Spirit: Lord, have mercy.
All: Lord, have mercy.
Minister: You bring pardon and peace to the sinner: Christ, have mercy.
All: Christ, have mercy.
Minister: You bring light to those in darkness: Lord, have mercy.
All: Lord, have mercy.
Priest: May almighty God have mercy on us, forgive us our sins, and bring us to everlasting life.
All: Amen.

Kyrie:
Priest: Lord, have mercy. All: Lord, have mercy.
Priest: Christ, have mercy. All: Christ, have mercy.
Priest: Lord, have mercy. All: Lord, have mercy.
OR
Priest: Kyrie, eleison. All: Kyrie, eleison.
Priest: Christe, eleison. All: Christe, eleison.
Priest: Kyrie, eleison. All: Kyrie, eleison.
If Option C  of the Penitential Rite is used, it already incorporates the Kyrie into it and thus the Kyrie would not be prayed again. This is most likely what is happening and why you were confused.

Finally, we omit the Kyrie if the blessing and sprinkling of water is done in place of the penitential rite, as we do in Easter.

I hope this helps.

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