In our postings over the last few days concerning confessions before Mass and confessions after Mass, we have not mentioned the importance of penitence within the Mass itself. Yet there it is, the gateway to the Liturgy.
Some Catholics, including those with liturgical duties, seem reluctant to allow the Penitential Rite at the beginning of every Mass to make its presence known and felt. In particular, the Confiteor prayer ("I confess to Almighty God, and to you, my brothers and sisters...") is often left out. Granted, within the Penitential Rite, the Confiteor is not required, but why would we skip it? Because our parishioners don't need it? Because they only need it during Lent? Because penitence mars the proper spirit of the Liturgy?
Preparations for the implementation of the revised Roman Missal in the coming months will provide a great opportunity to preach and teach about the Penitential Rite in general, and about the Confiteor in particular. If many Catholics today feel awkward about "beseeching" God, it's no surprise that we're a bit awkward about pleading for His pardon.
Let's face the facts: Our God is all-Holy and all-Merciful. We are not so holy, and we need His mercy so very much.