OCF 9: Ministry to Mourners is Broad

Sections 9 through 13 detail the ministry of the community. Let’s start in with a focus on the pastoral and catechetical leadership:

9. The responsibility for the ministry of consolation rests with the believing community, which heeds the words and example of the Lord Jesus: “Blessed are they who mourn; they shall be consoled” (Matthew 5:3). Each Christian shares in this ministry according to the various gifts and offices in the Church. As part of the pastoral ministry, pastors, associate pastors, and other ministers should instruct the parish community on the Christian meaning of death and on the purpose and significance of the Christian liturgical rites for the dead. Information on how the parish community assists families in preparing for funerals should also be provided.

Clearly, clergy and other leaders have the responsibility to prepare the laity at times other than funerals in these matters. And a degree of ministry organization is required, even in the nitty gritty aspects of material support.

Needless to say, the entire parish has a ministerial and spiritual role to play:

By giving instruction, pastors and associate pastors should lead the community to a deeper appreciation of its role in the ministry of consolation and to a fuller understanding of the significance of the death of a fellow Christian. Often the community must respond to the anguish voiced by Martha, the sister of Lazarus: “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would never have died” (John 11:21) and must console those who mourn as Jesus himself consoled Martha: “Your brother will rise again. … I am the resurrection and the life: those who believe in me, though they should die, will come to life; and those who are alive and believe in me will never die” (John 11:25-26). The faith of the Christian community in the resurrection of the dead brings support and strength to those who suffer the loss of those whom they love.

The OCF adopts a very broad definition of ministry. Acknowledging the special role of the clergy, individuals in the community also have spiritual gifts to offer in time of need. The balance here is appropriate, I think. Priests have their talents and exercise these through their office. Other gifts are intended to be discerned and organized through the pastoral leadership. It’s a very biblical approach.

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
This entry was posted in Order of Christian Funerals, post-conciliar liturgy documents, Rites. Bookmark the permalink.

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