OCF 130: Structure and Content of the Funeral Liturgy

What two major items make up the Catholic Mass? Most every Catholic could quote “liturgy of the Word” and “liturgy of the Eucharist.” How would they do with the two other aspects that are distinctive for the funeral Mass, as we read:

130. The funeral Mass includes the reception of the body, if this has not already occurred, the celebration of the liturgy of the word, the liturgy of the eucharist, and the final commendation and farewell. The funeral liturgy outside Mass includes all these elements except the liturgy of the eucharist. Both the funeral Mass and the funeral liturgy outside Mass may be followed by the procession to the place of committal.

It’s all pretty logical, right? Remember that if the body has been brought to the church earlier, such as for the vigil and/or wake, the rite of reception should be done in connection with that, and not repeated for the funeral liturgy. A few people I’ve worked with seem to be on autopilot with the “usual” way the funeral Mass is conducted. Receiving the body at the church is an important ritual moment–not to be repeated, especially in a way that minimizes its importance.

The final commendation and farewell is not part of the liturgy of the Eucharist. Nor does it, strictly speaking, serve as the “concluding rites” of the funeral liturgy. It has a place all its own, somewhat analogous to the sacramental rituals that take place during Mass (baptism, marriage, confirmation, etc.) but usually placed after the homily. That distinction is also important in stressing this aspect of the funeral rites, and its importance not only in liturgy, but in the pastoral and spiritual spheres for the mourners and the local faith community.

Thoughts or comments?

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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.

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