OCF 150: Active Participation

The OCF devotes four sections to “Ministry and Participation” in the funeral liturgy. Let’s look at the first today.

Active participation is surprisingly controversial today–I can’t fathom why, really. Especially when the Church’s documentation and reasoning on it can be accessed so easily. The formatting below is mine:

150. Because the funeral liturgy is the central celebration for the deceased, it should be scheduled for a time that permits as many of the Christian community as possible to be present. The full and active participation of the assembly …

– affirms the value of praying for the dead,

– gives strength and support to the bereaved,

– and is a sure sign of faith and hope in the paschal mystery.

Every effort, therefore, should be made by the various liturgical ministers to encourage active participation of the family and of the entire assembly.

It’s too bad this underlying principle of active participation is buried in the Order of Christian Funerals. Active participation, according to the Church, affirms the purpose of the liturgical gathering, is pastorally supportive to others in the faith community, and reflects faith and hope in Jesus Christ. Cultivating active participation is worth “every effort,” the Church tells us. And if this is true for the funeral rites, it’s certainly true for the Sunday Eucharist.


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.

2 Responses to OCF 150: Active Participation

  1. Todd says:

    Thanks for the links, Francis.

    I think Cardinal Arinze nails it with his summary of SC, but like Cardinal Ratzinger, I disagree with his diagnosis as it starts on p5.

    I mostly reject the extreme positions taken by Fr Z. Again, inaccurate diagnosis from what I see unfolding in parishes.

    The CDWDS had its own idea of active participation, as it saw a more specialized role in the OCF. I present this as a given, and I see it as a better formulation that what either of those commentators offer:

    – We pray for the dead as a community.

    – These prayers support the bereaved, perhaps giving a voice of support where the voice of mourners falters at that moment.

    – Participation is a reflection of Christ’s saving actions in the Psachal Mystery. This point could probably benefit from an extended theological elaboration.

    Where I see Father Z failing the Church is that he seems to avoid engaging the actual texts, and developing a theological argument from there. Most of what I see in his essay is a political strike at the practice of poor liturgy. I don’t deny that people, especially non-liturgists, enact poor liturgy and/or have a misunderstanding about what participation actually is.

    I don’t see the fault as resting with actual participation, though, nor with the learned liturgists, including the CDWDS, who have defined active participation in various church documents.

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