The Penitential Act has three forms: the Confiteor, a brief dialogue, or three invocations which are each followed by the assembly’s response of “Lord/Christ, have mercy” or “Kyrie/Christe, eleison.” We will focus on this third form.
In the Roman Missal, one set of invocations is included at #6 of “The Order of Mass” and seven sample invocations are provided in Appendix VI. The rubrics for #6 allow for other invocations to be used. One reason to write original invocations is to relate them more closely to the liturgical feast being celebrated or the readings of the day. When crafting original invocations, use the current eight options as models and keep the following in mind:
Christ is the focus; we are not
Each invocation addresses Christ and speaks of what Christ has done for us. Don’t make it about us by using phrases like: “For the times we have sinned….” This form of the Penitential Act is not an examination of conscience—that is what the silence at the beginning of the Penitential Act is for. It is a proclamation of praise to Christ.
To keep the focus on Christ, use instead this formula: [Lord Jesus], [a saving action of Christ]: [acclamation].
For example: Lord Jesus, you came to give us life: Lord, have mercy.
Use the readings
The Introductory Rites will flow more smoothly into the Liturgy of the Word if you can incorporate images from the readings into the invocations. Look for titles for Christ, and pay attention to verbs and actions.
Yesterday, today, forever
Keep in mind parallel structure of verbs. For example, sample II in Appendix VI has “you are…” in all three invocations; or sample V says: “you raise…,” “you forgive…,” and “you feed….”
Another way to attend to parallel structure of verbs is to use past, present, and future tenses, as in sample I in Appendix VI. Here, the actions are “you came,” “you come,” and “you will come.” This structure helps us give praise for what Christ has done, for what Christ continues to do today, and for what Christ has promised will be.
Using the techniques outlined above, here is a sample set of form C invocations for the 12th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C.
- Lord Jesus, you opened for us a living fountain to purify us from sin: Lord, have mercy.
- Lord Jesus, you make us children of God, descendants of Abraham, and heirs according to the promise. Christ, have mercy.
- Lord Jesus, you will come again to turn our mourning into gladness and the cross into eternal life. Lord, have mercy.