GIRM 382-385: More on Masses for the Dead

There’s a bit more on Masses for the Dead:

382. At Funeral Masses there should usually be a short Homily, but to the exclusion of a funeral eulogy of any kind.

Which isn’t to say that remembering the deceased isn’t a good thing, possibly even in a liturgical setting. Just place it appropriately, like at the Vigil.

383. The faithful, and especially those of the deceased’s family, should be urged to participate in the Eucharistic Sacrifice offered for the deceased person, also by receiving Holy Communion.

An interesting directive, given recent controversy, wouldn’t you say? There may well be Catholics who themselves would decline to present themselves for Communion. How would you say a priest must “urge” them to participation? I don’t know that such possibilities are usually presented to people. I wonder how many clergy are really prepared to offer something substantive here.

384. If the Funeral Mass is directly joined to the rite of burial, once the Prayer after Communion has been said and omitting the Concluding Rites, there takes place the Rite of Final Commendation or Farewell. This rite is celebrated only if the body is present.

I don’t think the Farewell rituals at Mass are embedded so in the Catholic consciousness that mourners would insist on them if the body were not present.

385. In the arranging and choosing of the variable parts of the Mass for the Dead, especially the Funeral Mass (for example, orations, readings, and the Universal Prayer), pastoral considerations bearing upon the deceased, the family, and those attending should be kept in mind.

As we’ve read earlier in many places, the particular preferences of the priest and ministers should be reduced to allow for the pastoral considerations of the laity. This is a basic principle for all liturgy.

Moreover, pastors should take into special account those who are present at a liturgical celebration or who hear the Gospel on the occasion of the funeral and who may be non-Catholics or Catholics who never or hardly ever participate in the Eucharist or who seem even to have lost the faith. For Priests are ministers of Christ’s Gospel for all.

That seems to be a fitting conclusion to the Church’s liturgical ministry to those who participate in the Mass for the Dead. “Ministers of Christ’s Gospel for all.” I certainly need to keep than in mind for my own service to others.

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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 GIRM, post-conciliar liturgy documents. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to GIRM 382-385: More on Masses for the Dead

  1. FrMichael says:

    Urging people to Communion means urging them to Confession, since there are so many non-practicing Catholics. I know I haven’t done it. On the other hand, the final prescription above is almost ever in my mind at funerals. One moderate-sized funeral will have more non-Catholics at it than a thousand-person Sunday Mass.

  2. Todd says:

    And urging people to confess means fostering a personal sense of sin and an examination of conscience. How does a priest do that? Are Catholic clergy today prepared for evangelical ministry, however delicate and invitingly proposed? At the time of death? In the weeks before death?

    Or could it be that the Confession-Communion connection isn’t all that essentiqal in circumstances such as this?

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