171. By conversation and brief services of readings and prayers, the minister may help the parents and family to see that their child is being called ahead of them to enter the kingdom and joy of the Lord. The period when the child is dying can become a special time of renewal and prayer for the family and close friends. The minister should help them to see that the child’s sufferings are united to those of Jesus for the salvation of the whole world.
The rites give no examples of these “brief services of readings and prayers,” which is too bad. The recent bishops’ synod called for a practice of word services when the Eucharist cannot be celebrated, and while I don’t think most prelates were thinking this deep into the rites, this would be one area where a spiritually sensitive priest, liturgist, or pastoral minister should be attentive.
Our cultural avoidance of death is a tough obstacle for adults who are dying. Attempting to relate the sufferings of the innocent to the salvation of the whole world: a very noble image, but one that will take a lot of work. Stories would certainly help here. The Bible has a few heroic tales of children accomplishing much through sacrifice and suffering, but I suspect the secular examples outnumber the scriptural. What stories would you recommend?