[quote="Frankjg, post:1, topic:331556"]
I am a returned Catholic after 50 years of absence.
My question is why all the accent on sin, failure and fault in the general attitude of the Mass and teaching. At the start of the mass we state that we have sinned and committed serious failures. Would it not be a better attitude to declare our positive growth and our following of Jesus teachings. A negative attitude (at least to me) is a poor way to start ones day.
Well, as others have noted, the way taken is generally a pretty balanced one.
However, one thing I might ask is how can we corporately and at the same time individually declare our positive growth and our following of Jesus's teachings? Isn't that presumptuous at best, a lie at worst? The Penitential Act is a definite act. It is a means by which we corporately confess that we have sinned, and that is always, everywhere true. We cannot corporately confess that we do, in fact, follow Jesus's teachings in such a way because that implies that we always do so, which is not true. There is a constancy of impeccability implied there. Furthermore, is there ever going to be a situation where "we"--every single person present in a Sunday Mass--can declare our positive growth? Wouldn't we have to do a survey or a poll to establish that? I'll bet I can find at least one person in just about any Sunday Mass who hasn't had positive growth that week, or that month, or that year, or for a whole decade or more.
What it comes down to is that we can't really speak for other people regarding their following of Jesus's teachings. The Penitential Act is at once corporate and individual. It is corporate in that we do it together, at the same time, and it shows a common part of human nature: tendency toward sin. It is individual in that it is always a personal confession of sin. Notice in the Confiteor that we start with "I confess." However, positive growth and our following of Jesus's teachings can really only be done on an individual basis. I cannot know with absolute certainty that all particular persons present at a Mass have grown positively in the following of Jesus's teachings. I do, however, know that each one of us has sinned, if not recently then at some point in life.
So there is the issue of what we can actually state definitively and there is the issue of tradition.
Besides the fact that confession of sin in some form has been part of the Mass since ancient times, there are simply far too many contingencies that would have to be taken care of if we were to "declare our positive growth and our following of Jesus teachings."