Thursday, March 26, 2020
Preface for the Reconciliation of the Penitents
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Those familiar with the history of the Roman Rite will be familiar that in times past public sinners were expelled from the Church on Ash Wednesday and received again on Holy Thursday. Whereas today we are more familiar with the journey that catechumens are making to receive the Sacraments of Initiation at the Easter Vigil, several centuries ago the penitents were also making a similar journey to the holiest of all celebrations, Easter.

While this does not still take place on Holy Thursday, we should still nevertheless pray for so many lapsed and fallen away Catholics to return to the Sacrament of Confession and be restored to God's grace. During this Lenten Season, we should often pray for sinners. One great means to do so is to pray the Seven Penitential Psalms on Fridays after Matins and Lauds, a practice that was done up until the Breviary reforms of St. Pius X.

We can likewise offer other prayers for the conversion of sinners such as of course the Holy Rosary for them.We can pray these prayers now and offer our intentions of this day, in union with the whole Sacrifice of the Mass, for the conversion of lapsed Catholics.

Lastly, the following beautiful Preface given us by the Roman pontifical was formerly recited during the reconciliation of the public penitents. 

It is truly meet and just, right and available to salvation, that we should always and in all places give thanks to thee, O Holy Lord, almighty Father, eternal God, through Christ our Lord: Whom thou, O almighty Father, didst will to be born among us by an ineffable Birth, that so he might pay to thee, his eternal Father, the debt contracted by Adam, and put our death to death by his own, and bear our wounds in his own Flesh, and cleanse away our stains by his Blood; hereby enabling us, who had fallen by the envy of the old enemy, to rise again by his mercy. Through him, O Lord, we suppliantly beseech and pray thee that thou graciously hear us making intercession for the sins of others, who are not worthy to plead for our own. Do thou, O most merciful Lord, recall to thyself, with thy wonted goodness, these thy servants, who have separated themselves from thee by their sins. For neither didst thou reject the most wicked Achab when he humbled himself before thee, but didst avert from him the punishment he had deserved. So, likewise, didst thou graciously hear Peter, when he wept, and didst afterwards give to him the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and thou didst promise the reward of that same kingdom to the thief when he trusted in thee. Therefore, O most merciful Lord! mercifully welcome back these for whom we offer to thee our prayers, and restore them to the bosom of thy Church, that the enemy may not triumph over them, but that they may be reconciled unto thee by thy coequal Son, and by him be cleansed from their guilt, and graciously admitted by him to the banquet of thy most holy Supper. May he in such wise refresh them by his Flesh and Blood, as to lead them, after this life’s course is run, to the kingdom of heaven.

Lastly, here follows the devout formula given by the Roman pontifical in the reconciliation of penitents:

O God, the most loving Creator, and most merciful Redeemer of mankind! who, when man, through the devil's malice, forfeited eternal life,didst redeem him by the Blood of thine only Son; restore to life these thy servants, who thou wiliest not should be dead to thee. Thou abandonest not them that go astray; receive these that have returned to the right path. We beseech thee, O Lord, let thy mercy be moved by the tears and sighs of these thy servants; heal their wounds; stretch forth thy saving hand, and raise them up: lest thy Church be robbed of a part of her body; lest thy flock should suffer loss; lest the enemy should rejoice in the perdition of them that are of thy family; lest the second death should seize them that were regenerated in the waters of salvation. To thee, therefore, O Lord, do we thy suppliants pour forth our prayers, to thee the weeping of our heart. Spare them that trust in thee, and, in thy mercy, suffer them not to fall under the sentence of thy judgment to come, whereby they would be condemned to punishment. Let not the horrors of darkness, or the scorching of flames come nigh to them. They have returned from the way of error to the path of justice; let them not be again wounded. What thy grace hath conferred, and thy mercy hath reformed, let it remain in them whole and for ever. Through the same Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

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