An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church

Penitential Order

The eucharist may begin with a penitential order (BCP, pp. 319-321, 351-353). The Penitential Order includes an acclamation and the confession of sin and absolution. It may also include the decalogue, and one or more appropriate sentences of scripture. These sentences of scripture include the Summary of the Law, Mt 22:37-40 or Mark 12:29-31; 1 Jn 1:8-9; and Heb 4:14, 16. The Penitential Order may be used as an entrance rite during Lent or other times to emphasize the penitential aspect of the eucharist. The Penitential Order may be used as a separate service. When used separately, it concludes with suitable prayers and the grace or a blessing. When the Penitential Order is used to begin the eucharist, the service continues with the Gloria in excelsis, the Kyrie eleison, or the Trisagion. The confession and absolution are not repeated later in the service. A deacon or lay person who leads the Penitential Order uses a modified form for the absolution, praying “Almighty God have mercy on us, forgive us all our sins through our Lord Jesus Christ, strengthen us in all goodness, and by the power of the Holy Spirit keep us in eternal life” (BCP, p. 321, 353). The Penitential Order is presented by the BCP in both traditional and contemporary language. The Rite 1 (traditional language) version of the Penitential Order includes both the general confession from the eucharistic rite, and the general confession from Rite 1 Morning Prayer (pp. 320-321).

Glossary definitions provided courtesy of Church Publishing Incorporated, New York, NY,(All Rights reserved) from “An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church, A User Friendly Reference for Episcopalians,” Don S. Armentrout and Robert Boak Slocum, editors.