Have I greatly sinned through my most grievous fault?

Posted by Jeffrey Pinyan at 5:00 PM

Less than a week into Advent, there are many comments being made about the new English translation of the Mass.  Many negative comments center around the new language in the Confiteor:  "I confess ... that I have greatly sinned ... through my most grievous fault."  Here are two recent negative reactions:

  • In another pew, fellow parishioner Mary Bucher was offended at the insertion of "I have sinned greatly" into the Introductory Rite. "I don't go around sinning greatly," she said. "I am not going to say this." 
  • I refuse to say how I have sinned so "greviously" (maybe this is appropriate for many priests to say) because it is not true.
Here is a positive reaction from the same web site:
  • Moreover, we have all "greatly sinned". Living in a afluent country like the US, I know that my sins of omission in particular are staggering!
Compare these reactions [source] to the parable Jesus tells of the pharisee and the tax collector, from Luke 18:
"Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, 'God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week, I give tithes of all that I get.'

"But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, 'God, be merciful to me a sinner!'

"I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for every one who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted."
Notice the arrogance of the pharisee (essentially saying his sins, whatever they might be, are small in comparison to those of the tax collector) and the self-abasement of the tax-collect (who does not raise his eyes to heaven and beats his breast in penitence).