OCF 171-175: Final Commendation

The outline of the Final Commendation is as follows:

Invitation to Prayer
Silence
[Signs of Farewell]
Song of Farewell
Prayer of Commendation

OCF 171 gives the presider two options for inviting the people to prayer. There are five additional options in OCF 402. The clause “or in similar words” is printed in red. The text I most often hear is this:

Before we go our separate ways, let us take leave of our brother/sister. May our farewell express our affection for him/her, may it ease our sadness and strengthen our hope. One day we shall joyfully greet him/her again when the love of Christ, which conquers all things, destroys even death itself.

This is not often the occasion when a presider will flip to section 402 for an alternate invitation to prayer. They’re worth considering, as the Scriptural allusions are somewhat stronger there.

Note that silence is given its own heading in the ritual outline. I would take it to mean a substantial silence, at least a half-minute. The caution is with an emotional situation in which the worshipers are not hearing the guidance on what to do here and the silence is an invitation to an open expression of emotion–which may be healing and good. Or not.

The principal signs of farewell are holy water and incense. If the body was sprinkled earlier during Mass, it is not usually sprinkled again. Incense is more commonly used. OCF 173 tells us that these signs may be used during or after the Song of Farewell (OCF 174). My slight preference is for after, mainly because the Song of Farewell can be reduced to accompaniment music. Given that these signs are optional, and the Song of Farewell is central to the Final Commendation, my recommendation is to sing the full text without any other actions. I certainly wouldn’t curtail the Song of Farewell to fit the incensing or sprinkling. That would be the poorest option of all.

The text given in OCF 174 is “Saints of God.” Dennis Smolarski’s metrical adaptation is used a lot in the midwest. Other settings abound. Options are given in OCF 403: some responsorial (antiphon + verses) and some metrical hymns. “(S)ome other song may be sung,” according to the rubrics. If this option is used, I would think the strong texts of either OCF 174 or 403 should be imitated. This is not a slot for a “favorite song,” a solo piece, or a recording (heaven forbid).

The Prayer of Commendation concludes this section of the Funeral Mass. Please note these are not “concluding rites” as given for an ordinary Mass. Think: Liturgy of the Word, Liturgy of the Eucharist, liturgy of Final Commendation.

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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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