Question from on 06-18-2007:
Dear Mr Donovan and Mr Gregson. After the Penitential Rite in the beginning of Mass, about 1/2 of the parishioners will Bless themselves and the others don't. Some Priests will Bless themselves and others don't. Is there a liturgical recommendation about this? Or, is the choice to Bless oneself a matter of personal choice? Thankyou for your time! God Bless You! Sincerely, John
Answer by David Gregson on 07-26-2007:
The practice of some priests and parishioners blessing themselves at the words, "May almighty God have mercy on us, forgive us our sins, and bring us to everlasting life," is a carry-over from the Tridentine use, in which priest and altar servers bless themselves after saying the Confiteor. But in the Tridentine use, priest and servers bless themselves not at the Misereatur (the English equivalent of which is given above), but at the Indulgentiam, which follows, translated as "May the almighty and merciful Lord grant us pardon, + absolution, and remission of our sins." The Indulgentiam wasn't retained in the reformed liturgy, and so, strictly speaking, it's out of place to bless ourselves at the Misereatur.