OCF 21: Liturgical Elements

Simple without being simplistic, culturally sensitive without sacrificing reverence, lots of treading the middle way. Participation should be encouraged:

21. Since liturgical celebration involves the whole person, it requires attentiveness to all that affects the senses. The readings and prayers, psalms and songs should be proclaimed or sung with understanding, conviction, and reverence. Music for the assembly should be truly expressive of the texts and at the same time simple and easily sung. The ritual gestures, processions, and postures should express and foster an attitude of reverence and reflectiveness in those taking part in the funeral rites. The funeral rites should be celebrated in an atmosphere of simple beauty, in a setting that encourages participation. Liturgical signs and symbols affirming Christian belief and hope in the paschal mystery are abundant in the celebration of the funeral rites, but their undue multiplication or repletion should be avoided. Care must be taken that the choice and use of signs and symbols are in accord with the culture of the people.

I think this gives priests, musicians, and others broad leeway to develop beauty and quality in the liturgy, to invite and encourage participation, and to develop an appropriate seriousness about funerals. My experiences with the level of solemnity families request or even lack can be accommodated. In other words, some Catholics would want a high degree of reverence. Others would desire less of this. The modern OCF permits pastoral judgment within certain bounds.

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About catholicsensibility

Todd and his family live in Ames, Iowa. He serves a Catholic parish of both Iowa State students and town residents.
This entry was posted in Order of Christian Funerals, post-conciliar liturgy documents, Rites. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to OCF 21: Liturgical Elements

  1. Fred says:

    We should accommodate people who want less reverence??

  2. Todd says:

    I would think so, within the general bounds of good taste. One example: there might be three moments for using incense: at the gospel, at the preparation of gifts, and at the farewell prayers after Communion. “Less” reverence might mean only using incense at the end. I’ve been to funerals with multiple priests present. Obviously, there’s a different tone with many concelebrants as opposed to a smaller liturgy celebrated in a chapel.

    I could also see a case in which a family or community didn’t want special treatment for a person of more notorious reputation. An inactive priest who repented of serial sexual abuse, for example, deserves a church funeral. But probably not one with the same pomp as an active priest, a pastor, for example.

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