…outward signs established by Christ to give grace. Or, as I heard it put today, they are visible signs of inward grace, given by Christ.
Words, being key in all of the Sacraments, are also outward, material signs of inward, formal acts. It would make for an interesting study to see how the words involved in the Sacraments have changed in the past century or three. How do wedding vows hold up nowadays compared to vows two hundred years ago–and vice versa? For a less daunting task, consider the following three forms of the Act of Contrition (not technically a Sacrament, I know, but a vital part of experiencing the grace of reconciliation):
A) My God, I am sorry for my sins with all my heart.
In choosing to do wrong and failing to do good,
I have sinned against you whom I should love above all things.
I firmly intend, with your help, to do penance, to sin no more,
and to avoid whatever leads me to sin.
Our Savior Jesus Christ suffered and died for us.
In His name, my God, have mercy.
B) O my God, I am heartily sorry for having offended you,
and I detest all my sins, because of Your just punishments,
but most of all because they offend You, my God,
who are all-good and deserving of all my love.
I firmly resolve, with the help of Your grace,
to sin no more and to avoid the near occasion of sin.
C) O MY GOD, I am heartily sorry for having offended Thee,
and I detest all my sins because I dread the loss of Heaven and the pains of Hell; but most of all because they offend Thee, my God,
Who art all-good and deserving of all my love.
I firmly resolve, with the help of Thy grace,
to confess my sins, to do penance, and to amend my life.
What is lost by modernizing and “streamlining” the words related to sacraments (as in the first version)? What is gained by denuding the richness of the last version? Alternatively, what is lost by sticking with the third version? What are your thoughts on these prayers? Are you partial to one form over another? Why?