This is a fantastic video explaining the New Translation for teenagers, which most adults would probably benefit from too:
It is sad that someone writing for a purportedly “Catholic” publication did not watch this video before they claimed that teaching children the Confiteor is tantamount to child abuse. This article which I stumbled across recently has been addressed elsewhere, but to give you the gist of it…
Surely if Catholic children are cajoled by teachers at the behest of the Catholic hierarchy to beat their breasts on regular solemn occasions and pronounce themselves inwardly filthy, we should be shown the psychological impact study they carried out. Or did they not do one?
This is the damage that happens when someone isn’t taught the doctrine of sin: they have a completely warped understanding of what “sin” means so they write it off altogether. Why do we need to go to Mass if we are free from sin, anyway?
Valuable, liturgical catechesis can come from the New Translation. Here, in the Confiteor, it is evident: the words “through my fault, through my fault, through my most grievous fault”, are a closer translation of the Latin (well explained in the video clip above).
We are human beings, we are body and soul, we pray through our bodies as the physical expression of the inner world of our soul. The striking of the breast gesture is richly biblical: the tax collector in Luke 18:13 who beat his breast and prayed from his heart, “God, be merciful to me a sinner!” was the one Jesus said went home at rights with God, not the proud Pharisee.
It goes without saying that we have lost consciousness of sin in our culture. But there is something deep inside of us (our conscience) that wants to repent to the Father when we have gone wrong, and our bodily gestures both express our sorrow and help to foster it.
Romano Guardini wrote in Sacred Signs:
It is an honest blow, not an elegant gesture. To strike the breast is to beat against the gates of our inner world in order to shatter them. This is its significance. … “Repent, do penance.” It is the voice of God. Striking the breast is the visible sign that we hear that summons.
To me, it strikes me as a lack of emotional maturity when adults refuse to acknowledge that they sin. And it is sad that they project this lack of maturity onto their children.
For catechesis with adults, this raises the big question: How can adults move away from the certainty that they are sin-free, and come to experience the beauty of being a child of God who can freely repent to God their Father? With most people, this can take years of stubbornness, complaining and whining, but it is possible to see a turnaround. We see it in people in the parish. What is needed, however, are strong, honest and unflinching sermons on common areas of sin and the invitation to repentance. What is needed is faithful, convincing catechesis that presents the beauty of living the freedom of life of Christ. What are needed are Catholic friends who are willing to challenge them, pray for them, and make sacrifices for them. Slowly, but surely, I think we can win people back over for Christ.