For those of you following the series on the Order of Christian Funerals (OCF) thanks for the patience. Let’s return to a daily examination, starting with the threefold purpose of the funeral liturgy:
129. At the funeral liturgy the community gathers with the family and friends of the deceased …
- to give praise and thanks to God for Christ’s victory over sin and death,
- to commend the deceased to God’s tender mercy and compassion,
- and to seek strength in the proclamation of the paschal mystery.
Through the Holy Spirit the community is joined together in faith as one Body in Christ to reaffirm in sign and symbol, word and gesture that each believer through baptism shares in Christ’s death and resurrection and can look to the day when all the elect will be raised up and united in the kingdom of light and peace.
Does this cover the meaning of the funeral as you have been led to understand? I have no experience of the Catholic funeral before Vatican II. Since the promulgation of the second edition of the OCF in 1989, I’ve been operating off this script for almost all of my professional career. This accurately summarizes what clergy, musicians, and other pastoral ministers try to accomplish in the funeral rite. My sense is that if we have slippage toward a commemoration of the deceased, it is usually with clergy less aware of the nuances of the rites. And if there is a nod (or more) toward a preconciliar tone, it is usually the personal preference of the priest.