OCF 43-44: Selection of Rites

Sections 43 through 49 give a brief overview of the rites contained in this document:

43. The Order of Christian Funerals makes provisions for the minister, in consultation with the family, to choose those rites and texts that are most suitable to the situation: those that most closely apply to the needs of the mourners, the circumstances of the death, and the customs of the local Christian community. The minister and the family may be assisted in the choice of a rite or rites by the reflection preceding each rite or group of rites.

We will be examining those reflections in detail. Each rite has several sections that precede it in the OCF book. As we go, we may peek at the texts and rubrics of the rites themselves. But we’ll give them a good coverage in due time.

Note the three judgments to be made that do not (necessarily) include the personal wishes of the deceased: needs of the loved ones, circumstances of the death, and local customs. I would think that the wishes of the dead person would certainly be a concern for the mourners. But clearly, the funeral rites are not the time for a preachy message from the deceased on slights and offenses unresolved. (I did see that happen once.)

OCF 50-233 will be our main concern for the next several months:

44. Part I, “Funeral Rites,” of the Order of Christian Funerals provides those rites that may be used in the funerals of Christians and is divided into three groups of rites that correspond in general to the three principal ritual moments in Christian funerals: “Vigil and Related Rites and Prayers,” “Funeral Liturgy,” and “Rite of Committal.”

A few comments here on terminology.

Note that these are rites for “Christians” not Roman Catholics only. Celebrating a funeral of a non-Catholic in a Catholic church or with Catholic ministers is not an everyday occurrence, but it does happen. Catholic tradition informs these rites, but the Church does not claim them as exclusively Catholic, at least not in what has been written down in these rituals and commentary.

“Liturgy,” not “Mass” for the second moment: you know that a funeral may not be a Mass. Sometimes I see the terminology used, “memorial service.” That is part of our funeral tradition, but if the primary “funeral” cannot be a Mass, it is still a “funeral.”


About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in the Pacific Northwest, 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.

One Response to OCF 43-44: Selection of Rites

  1. Liam says:

    One finds with some frequency on Catholic blogs commenters who write that their wills contain Instructions X, Y & Z regarding the conduct of their funerals in church. People would be advised to remember that their wills don’t bind priests or ministers in any way. And of course church musicians are prone to programming their own funerals like the best of bridezilla-directors acting as producer-director-star of their weddings.

    Of course, for many mourners, doing what their beloved wished has an aspect of comfort. But not always. The most important part of the rituals for the deceased are the prayers for the repose of their souls, not whether Instruction X, Y or Z of their will was fulfilled.

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