Penitential services for parishes

Reader: A reading from the Book of Lamentations

From the daughter of Zion has departed all her majesty. Her princes have become like harts that find no pasture; they fled without strength before the pursuer. Jerusalem remembers in the days of her affliction and bitterness all the precious things that were hers from days of old. When her people fell into the hand of the foe, and there was none to help her, the foe gloated over her, mocking at her downfall. Jerusalem sinned grievously, therefore she became filthy; all who honored her despise her, for they have seen her nakedness; yea, she herself groans, and turns her face away. Her uncleanness was in her skirts; she took no thought of her doom; therefore her fall is terrible, she has no comforter. "O LORD, behold my affliction, for the enemy has triumphed!" (Lamentations 1: 6-9).

Young couple: We request to renew our marriage vows together with all the married couples of the parish.

Pastor: Then let all legitimately married couples here present stand and renew their marriage vows:

Husbands and wives hold hands as they recite: "On this holy day we renew our pledge to live faithfully with our lawful spouse, to have and to hold, for better and for worse, in richer and in poorer, in sickness and in health, until death do us part."

Pastor: Amen. God our Father, you created man and woman to love each other in the bond of marriage, Bless and strengthen these married partners. May their marriage become an increasingly more perfect sign of the union of Christ and the Church. We also ask that those whose marriages are not in order will continue to practice their faith, will hope in thee, will come to Mass, do works of charity, and ask God fervently for help and mercy. We ask this through Christ Our Lord.

Congregation: Amen. Jesus, Mary, Joseph, bless our families with holiness as you lived holy lives in Nazareth.

4. Sins of contraception and sterilization - Focus on all married couples and co-habiters

Pastor: O Lord God, we know that husband and wife receive graces to make each other holy. We confess our sins of contraception and contraceptive sterilization and ask for forgiveness and for an amendment of our lives.

Reader: A reading from the Letter of Paul to the Ephesians Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish (Ephesians 5:25-27). Pastor: Pope Pius XI, on December 31, 1930, solemnly recalled the teaching of Tradition that contraception to is a grave sin. He did so in response to the unprecedented break from Tradition by Anglicans a few months before that. The Pope admonished not only married couples, but also priests and bishops to support this unbreakable Tradition of Moral Conduct.

Reader: A Reading from the Encyclical Casti Connubii

56. Since, therefore, openly departing from the uninterrupted Christian tradition some recently have judged it possible solemnly to declare another doctrine regarding this question, the Catholic Church, to whom God has entrusted the defense of the integrity and purity of morals, standing erect in the midst of the moral ruin which surrounds her, in order that she may preserve the chastity of the nuptial union from being defiled by this foul stain, raises her voice in token of her divine ambassadorship and through Our mouth proclaims anew: any use whatsoever of matrimony exercised in such a way that the act is deliberately frustrated in its natural power to generate life is an offense against the law of God and of nature, and those who indulge in such are branded with the guilt of a grave sin.

57. We admonish, therefore, priests who hear confessions and others who have the care of souls, in virtue of Our supreme authority and in Our solicitude for the salvation of souls, not to allow the faithful entrusted to them to err regarding this most grave law of God; much more, that they keep themselves immune from such false opinions, in no way conniving in them. If any confessor or pastor of souls, which may God forbid, lead the faithful entrusted to him into these errors or should at least confirm them by approval or by guilty silence, let him be mindful of the fact that he must render a strict account to God, the Supreme Judge, for the betrayal of his sacred trust, and let him take to himself the words of Christ: "They are blind and leaders of the blind: and if the blind lead the blind, both fall into the pit.

Elderly couple steps forward.

Pastor: What is your desire?

Elderly couple: We represent all couples in the parish, some of whom may have sinfully committed contraception, some of whom have have submitted to contraceptive sterilization. We confess that contraception and sterilization are acts of disobedience against God, our Lord and Savior. We ask for penance, and we are resolved to amend our lives.

Pastor: And I, for my part, confess that we priests have not been more helpful to you. We did not denounce the sin of contraception and sterilization openly and with courage, we did not provide opportunities to learn the natural methods of birth control. We have been hirelings instead of shepherds, sleeping while the wolves ravaged our sheep. We are guilty of the sin of neglect. As the Prophet Ezekiel wrote about negligent pastors:

His watchmen are blind, they are all without knowledge; they are all dumb dogs, they cannot bark; dreaming, lying down, loving to slumber. The dogs have a mighty appetite; they never have enough. The shepherds also have no understanding; they have all turned to their own way, each to his own gain, one and all (Isaiah 56:10-11).

EZEKIEL 32:7: So you, son of man, I have made a watchman for the house of Israel; whenever you hear a word from my mouth, you shall give them warning from me. If I say to the wicked, O wicked man, you shall surely die, and you do not speak to warn the wicked to turn from his way, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity, but his blood I will require at your hand. But if you warn the wicked to turn from his way, and he does not turn from his way; he shall die in his iniquity but you will have saved your life.

Pastor continues: O Lord God, mighty and merciful, we confess to thee that we in America have made contraception and contraceptive surgical sterilization, a common way of life, thus driving holiness out of our homes. Statistics indicate that over ten million women and over four million men are surgically sterilized for contraceptive purposes. Also over ten million women use the Pill, and nearly eight million men use condoms. Because so many resort to surgical sterilization in the course of time, two out of three couples who have at least one child, and in which the woman is age 35-44, are surgically sterilized for contraception (see NCHS news release, June 5, 1997, Dec. 4, 1990). Sin has overwhelmed our land from east to west, from north to south. Parishes, too, feel the burden of massive sin, as Sunday attendance at Mass decreases, confession is neglected, vocations from the parishes decline, our Catholic strength is emasculated.

Elderly couple: For year after year we sinned without going to confession. We did not want to receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation hypocritically while continuing to take 28 Pills per cycle, while on sterilizing chemicals, or when one or both partners had their tubes cut or tied. We have neglected coming to Sunday Mass, for who is comfortable in church while chasing God out of our house and home?

All: O my God, incline thy ear and hear; open thy eyes and behold our desolations, and the city which is called by thy name; for we do not present our supplications before thee on the ground of our righteousness, but on the ground of thy great mercy. O LORD, hear; O LORD, forgive; O LORD, give heed and act; delay not, for thy own sake, O my God, because thy city and thy people are called by thy name" (Daniel 9:18-19).

Pastor: We have asked the young of our parish to sign a document that they will abstain from sinful sexual activities until the day of their marriage. We now ask all couples of the parish to pledge that they will not do contraceptive acts in future,

For couples in this parish who have been surgically sterilized for contraception, and who ask to renew their lives of love for God, the parish has this policy. We ask them to receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation, and to do acts of penance for this sin for one year. The penance recommended is to abstain from sexual intercourse during fourteen days of every month, beginning on the first Friday of each month.

Congregation: We will try to bear our crosses after Christ willingly, to do penance for all our sins. May we make up in our own lives whatever is lacking in the sufferings of Christ for our own good, for the good of this parish, and for the good of the Church. In solidarity with all members of our parish, we profess that contraception and contraceptive sterilization are wrong, are an immense evil, are an abomination in the eyes of God. We pray to God for forgiveness of sins committed by members of our parish in the words of repentant David:

Have mercy on me, O God, according to thy steadfast love; according to thy abundant mercy blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin! ... Fill me with joy and gladness; let the bones which thou hast broken rejoice. Hide thy face from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities. Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me (from Psalm 51).

5. We confess our abominable crime of abortion

Pastor: O Lord God, thou didst punish Cain for having killed his brother Abel. Forgive us for killing our brothers and sisters through abortion.

Reader: A reading from the Book of Genesis

Cain said to Abel his brother, "Let us go out to the field." And when they were in the field, Cain rose up against his brother Abel, and killed him. Then the LORD said to Cain, "Where is Abel your brother?" He said, "I do not know; am I my brother's keeper?" And the LORD said, "What have you done? The voice of your brother's blood is crying to me from the ground. And now you are cursed from the ground, which has opened its mouth to receive your brother's blood from your hand. When you till the ground, it shall no longer yield to you its strength; you shall be a fugitive and a wanderer on the earth" (Genesis 4:8-12).

Pastor: Each year we people of America kill over a million of our fellow Americans by surgical abortion, and in addition we kill an unknown number of fellow humans by chemical abortions, by IVF processes, by unholy human stem cell research. We confess all this as wrong and abhorrent to thee who hast said: "Thou shalt not kill." We here in our parish promise to thee that we will never kill an innocent fellow brother or sister by any of these cruel means, for such killing is equal to the sin of Cain..

Lord, forgive us also for electing public officials that allow abortion. For if it is wrong to do abortions, then it is wrong to promote abortions through our ballots.

One of the sins that God hated most as witnessed in the Old Testament was that of parents casting children into a furnace to burn them alive, in honor of the false god Molech. Moses sternly warned the Israelites against this practice. Our practice of abortion is hardly less evil than burning the in a furnace:

Reader: A reading from the Book of Leviticus.

The LORD said to Moses, "Say to the people of Israel, Any man of the people of Israel, or of the strangers that sojourn in Israel, who gives any of his children to Molech shall be put to death; the people of the land shall stone him with stones. I myself will set my face against that man, and will cut him off from among his people, because he has given one of his children to Molech, defiling my sanctuary and profaning my holy name. And if the people of the land do at all hide their eyes from that man, when he gives one of his children to Molech, and do not put him to death, then I will set my face against that man and against his family, and will cut them off from among their people, him and all who follow him in playing the harlot after Molech. "If a person turns to mediums and wizards, playing the harlot after them, I will set my face against that person, and will cut him off from among his people (Leviticus 20:1-5).

Pastor: Blessed Mother Teresa was a tireless opponent of abortion. She said to doctors and nurses in Japan, at the Medical School of Nagasaki (April 26, 1982) these memorable words:

I ask you one thing. When I spoke to the Diet in Tokyo, I asked them to change the law of abortion. And I ask you also to get together and never allow, in this beautiful country, that regular killing which destroys not only the life of the child but destroys your very heart. You will never again be the same person. God-forgives; -- but deep down in your heart the pain of having destroyed some life remains always. So get together and ask the government to change the law to respect and to love life that is created by God.

Congregation: Lord, if I have committed the sin of abortion, I ask forgiveness now, and I promise that I will never do so again. Please take care of my child and make it happy in thy presence.

Lord, if I have influenced my daughter or a friend or relative to do an abortion, forgive this my sin, and I promise to never do so again.

Lord, if I have actively supported a pro-abortion candidate for election to public office, forgive me, and I promise to henceforth promote only pro-life candidates for office insofar as this is possible.

We adore thee O Christ and we praise thee;
Because by thy holy cross thou has redeemed the world.
Jesus, Mary, Joseph, protect the unborn children of our parish. Amen.

6. Sins of sodomy

Pastor: O Lord God, thou didst find the sin of Sodom and Gomorrah to be very great. Because the people were bent on this sin, thou didst utterly destroy their cities.

Reader: A reading from the Book of Genesis

Then the LORD said, "Because the outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is great and their sin is very grave, I will go down to see whether they have done altogether according to the outcry which has come to me; and if not, I will know." ...Then the LORD rained on Sodom and Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the LORD out of heaven; and he overthrew those cities, and all the valley, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and what grew on the ground (Genesis 18:20-21;24-25).

Pastor: Today sinners like those of Sodom and Gomorrah advertise themselves shamelessly in the media and parade on our streets. We ask God to not destroy us as He destroyed the sodomites in order to rid the world of this evil. We pledge that we will live as righteous people, so that God will see at least ten who please Him, for whose sake He will not destroy entire cities.

On another occasion in the Old Testament wicked people tried to sodomize travelers who sought lodgings in their city, and when they failed in this, they raped an innocent girl instead. These instructions should remind us that, no matter how the media treat sodomites, God is of a different mind.

Reader: A reading from the Book of Judges

As they were making their hearts merry, behold, the men of the city, base fellows, beset the house round about, beating on the door; and they said to the old man, the master of the house, "Bring out the man who came into your house, that we may know him." And the man, the master of the house, went out to them and said to them, "No, my brethren, do not act so wickedly; seeing that this man has come into my house, do not do this vile thing. Behold, here are my virgin daughter and his concubine; let me bring them out now. Ravish them and do with them what seems good to you; but against this man do not do so vile a thing." But the men would not listen to him. So the man seized his concubine, and put her out to them; and they knew her, and abused her all night until the morning.

And as the dawn began to break, they let her go. And as morning appeared, the woman came and fell down at the door of the man's house where her master was, till it was light. And her master rose up in the morning, and when he opened the doors of the house and went out to go on his way, behold, there was his concubine lying at the door of the house, with her hands on the threshold. He said to her, "Get up, let us be going."But there was no answer. (She was dead.) (Judges 19:22-28).

Pastor: Lord, help us to recognize that the sin of sodomy offends thee, and help all who are tempted to reject this sin and to live a life of holiness. All of us must obey thy laws and so refrain from committing sins against the Sixth Commandment, no matter what our inclinations may be. Have pity especially on those who are inclined to homosexually; help them to remain pure, to live holy lives, to find their way to highest heaven. We beseech thee to forgive our sins of sodomy, and to enable us to live in holiness.

All: How long, O LORD? Wilt thou be angry for ever? Will thy jealous wrath burn like fire? Pour out thy anger on the nations that do not know thee, and on the kingdoms that do not call on thy name! For they have devoured Jacob, and laid waste his habitation. Do not remember against us the iniquities of our forefathers; let thy compassion come speedily to meet us, for we are brought very low. Help us, O God of our salvation, for the glory of thy name; deliver us, and forgive our sins, for thy name's sake! Why should the nations say, "Where is their God?" Let the avenging of the outpoured blood of thy servants be known among the nations before our eyes! Let the groans of the prisoners come before thee; according to thy great power preserve those doomed to die! Return sevenfold into the bosom of our neighbors the taunts with which they have taunted thee, O Lord! Then we thy people, the flock of thy pasture, will give thanks to thee for ever; from generation to generation we will recount thy praise (Psalm 79:5-13),

Pastor: We invoke the Virgin Mother of Jesus, the chaste spouse of Joseph, to keep our parish free from the sin of sodomy. Let us pray the Litany of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Leader: / Response:
Lord have mercy. / Lord have mercy.
Christ have mercy. / Christ have mercy.
Lord have mercy. / Lord have mercy.
Christ hear us. / Christ hear us.
Christ graciously hear us. / Christ graciously hear us.
God the Father of heaven. / Have mercy on us.
God the Son, Redeemer of the world. / Have mercy on us.
God the Holy Spirit. / Have mercy on us.
Holy Trinity One God / Have mercy on us.

Holy Mary. / Pray for us (each time)
Holy Mother of God.
Holy Virgin of virgins.
Mother of Christ.
Mother of divine grace.
Mother most pure.
Mother most chaste.
Mother inviolate.
Mother undefiled.
Mother most amiable.
Mother most admirable.
Mother of good counsel.
Mother of our Creator.
Mother of our Savior.
Mother of the Church.
Virgin most prudent.
Virgin most venerable.
Virgin most renowned.
Virgin most powerful.
Virgin most merciful.
Virgin most faithful.
Mirror of justice.
Seat of wisdom.
Cause of our joy.
Spiritual vessel.
Vessel of honor.
Vessel of singular devotion.
Mystical rose.
Tower of David.
Tower of ivory.
House of gold.
Ark of the covenant.
Gate of heaven.
Morning star.
Health of the sick.
Refuge of sinners.
Consoler of the afflicted.
Help of Christians.
Queen of angels.
Queen of patriarchs.
Queen of prophets.
Queen of apostles.
Queen of martyrs.
Queen of confessors.

Queen of virgins.
Queen of all saints.
Queen conceived without original sin.
Queen assumed into heaven.
Queen of the most holy rosary.
Queen of peace.
Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world. / (ALL) Spare us O Lord.
Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world. / Graciously hear us O Lord.
Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world. / Have mercy on us.

Pray for us O Holy Mother of God. / That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ

Let us pray: Pour fourth we beseech thee, O Lord, thy grace without our hearts that we to whom was made known the Incarnation of Christ by the message of an angel, may be His passion and cross be brought forth to the glory of His resurrection. Through Christ Our Lord. (ALL): Amen

7. Pornography and prurient media

Pastor: Although the media are awash with pornography and with sexually prurient materials, we are called by God to live holy lives and to reject sins against the Sixth Commandment. We must help our children to also cultivate purity and to avoid occasions of sin as well as participation in the sins of others. There is special danger for children who have access to the Internet. In our parish we must help each and all to live as Christ calls us, not as the heathen secularist culture would lead us.

Reader: A reading from the Letter of Paul to the Ephesians

Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, To the saints who are in Ephesus and are faithful in Christ Jesus: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, just as he chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless before him in love. He destined us for adoption as his children through Jesus Christ, according to the good pleasure of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace that he freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and insight he has made known to us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure that he set forth in Christ, as a plan for the fullness of time, to gather up all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth. In Christ we have also obtained an inheritance, having been destined according to the purpose of him who accomplishes all things according to his counsel and will (Ephesians 1:1-11).

Pastor: Saint Paul reminds us that our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit: "Do you not know that you are God's temple and that God's Spirit dwells in you? If any one destroys God's temple, God will destroy him. For God's temple is holy, and that temple you are (1 Corinthians 3:16-17). If Jesus grew angry with money lenders who were buying and selling oxen and sheep in the holy temple of Jerusalem, how much more does He rejects sins against the Sixth Commandment by which we defile our bodies, each a temple of the Holy Spirit. He has given us the Sacrament of Reconciliation to cleanse the temple if sin has occurred.

The culture of sin and death that is so prevalent in the media is all the more reason for us to cultivate good and wholesome media of our own, media that promote the culture of life. Instead of filling our minds with sinful scenes of sex and bloodshed and crime, we should rather spend our time in dwelling upon things that help us to grow into decent and holy people, as Paul advises us: "Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things" (Philippians 4:8). Let us then make an act of contrition for all the sins that we and other members of the parish have committed:

All: O my God I am heartily sorry for having offended thee, and I detest all my sins because I fear the loss of heaven and the pains of hell. But most of all because they have offended thee, my God, who art all good and deserving of all my love. I firmly resolve, with the help of thy grace, to confess my sins, to do penance, and to amend my life. Amen.

Priest: May Almighty God have mercy on us, forgive us our sins, and bring us to everlasting life. Amen.

Conclusion: Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament followed by Benediction with the proper hymns.

Parish Penitential Service Number Two

On the First Friday of Advent, or suitable occasion

1. The Law of God is Holy

Pastor at Lectern: In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

We have gathered here on the First Friday of Advent to invoke the help of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph to battle sins against the Sixth Commandment in this our parish, and to help our families to become holy.

Mary had the extraordinary insight to offer to God a Vow of Virginity at a time when this was counter-cultural in Israel. Joseph, who shared with Mary the gifts of the Holy Spirit, likewise practiced perfect chastity, to honor the Son of God who had become man in the chaste womb of his spouse.

Perhaps Joseph and Mary marveled that Jesus asked to be born into the sinful world they knew so well in Nazareth, a cross-roads of the Roman Empire, where divorce was common among the Jewish nationals, and where the killing of baby girls was common among Greeks and Romans. Because of infanticide of girl babies, a large part of the male population could not obtain a wife, and homosexuality was common, especially among the military. Perhaps Mary and Joseph thought:"Why should the Son of God even bother to become man and to rescue these sinful people." But the Son of God did come, and He brought the Good News that gradually changed the world around the Mediterranean Basin, and is slowly transforming the entire world where the Gospel is preached. We invoke the mercy of God that He may redeem our parish and make us holy.

We are here tonight to confess our sins, and to ask God's forgiveness for transgressing His laws. Holy Scripture recalls that God does punish wicked people when they refuse to obey His laws. In 721 Before Christ the Northern Kingdom of Israel was conquered and its people were captured and deported ruthlessly from their homes into distant lands. The sacred author blames the people for the destruction of their nation, because they constantly disobeyed the eternal laws of God. From this, we take warning that if we today also break laws, there can be a time of punishment and disaster.

Reader: A reading from the Second Book of Kings

Yet the LORD warned Israel and Judah by every prophet and every seer, saying, "Turn from your evil ways and keep my commandments and my statutes, in accordance with all the law which I commanded your fathers, and which I sent to you by my servants the prophets." But they would not listen, but were stubborn, as their fathers had been, who did not believe in the LORD their God. They despised his statutes, and his covenant that he made with their fathers, and the warnings which he gave them. They went after false idols, and became false, and they followed the nations that were round about them, concerning whom the LORD had commanded them that they should not do like them. And they forsook all the commandments of the LORD their God, and made for themselves molten images of two calves; and they made an Asherah, and worshiped all the host of heaven, and served Baal. And they burned their sons and their daughters as offerings, and used divination and sorcery, and sold themselves to do evil in the sight of the LORD, provoking him to anger. Therefore the LORD was very angry with Israel, and removed them out of his sight; none was left but the tribe of Judah only (2 Kings 17:13-18).

Pastor: Today there are a billion Catholics in the world, and many other Christians besides, and peoples of many faiths who worship the Lord God amidst a secularist world. But there is much wickedness in our world, and we have reason to do penance, lest God also remove us out of His sight, as He once drove the Ten Tribes of Israel out of their fair land because of their persistent sins. During this Season of Advent, we of this parish will live in the company of Mary and Joseph, rejecting sin, and opening our hearts to the new Way that Jesus teaches.

ALL: Heavenly Father, thou has sent thy Son to teach us the way of life that leads to our true home in heaven. Though many reject His teachings, we of this parish accept them all without reserve. Thou didst once promise to Abraham that if thou wouldst find just ten just people in the city of Sodom, thou wouldst spare the city. We pledge to be righteous people in this parish, and ask thee to save the world for our sake.

All: (Sing): Jesus, I live for thee;
Jesus I die for thee;
Jesus I'm thine, in life and in death.
(Three times.)

Next Page: 2. Abstinence before marriage
1, 2, 3