OCF 158-164: Funeral Mass, Introductory Rites

Paragraphs 131 through 135 in the introductory section, “Funeral Liturgy,” covered the background on the introductory rites. In the funeral Mass, the outline looks like this:

Sprinkling with Holy Water
[Placing of the Pall]
Entrance Procession
[Placing of Christian Symbols]
Opening Prayer

The bracketed rituals are optional, but nearly always done in the US–at least in my experience in the east and midwest.

The rubric of OCF 158 is instructive:

158. If the rite of reception of the body takes place at the beginning of the funeral Mass, the introductory rites are those given here and the usual introductory rites for Mass, including the penitential rite, are omitted. If the rite of reception of the body has already taken place, the Mass begins in the usual way.

We’ve already covered the option of receiving the body at the church for the vigil. Once received there, the liturgical assumption is that it won’t be taken back to a funeral home–the body will remain until the funeral liturgy. At any rate, the rite or reception is not repeated. The direction to begin Mass “in the usual way” means that the introductory rites will ordinarily consist of the Entrance Procession, Greeting, Penitential Rite, and Opening Prayer–as they would for a weekday Mass. I suppose a Sprinkling Rite would be a consideration, possibly even advisable, especially during Easter. I’ve never seen it done, though. What do our commentators think?

The rubric of OCF 159 describes a greeting from “the door of the church.” The formulas given include the “long form” of 2 Corinthians 13:14 used often at Sunday Mass, plus three of the forms given in OCF 69. The option, “in similar words,” is also provided.

OCF 160 covers the sprinkling of the coffin. OCF 161, the placing of the pall. The entrance procession (OCF 162) was also described in OCF 133, and the rubric here duplicates the instruction there we’ve already discussed.

A bit of choreography to manage. The rites provide for the optional placing of a Christian symbol (OCF 163 here, OCF 134 in the introductory part) and this is done before the “customary reverence” of the altar.

For the Opening Prayer, the rite instructs:

164. When all have reached their places, the priest invites the assembly to pray.

After a brief period of silent prayer, the priest sings or says one of the following prayers or one of those provided in (OCF 398).

Note that singing the prayer is a preferred option over saying it: it’s listed first.

Four options are provided in the book at this point, three for outside the Easter season, and one for within it. Forty-seven other options are given in section 398 (13 general prayers, one for a pope, two for bishops, three for priests, two for deacons, two for religious, one for a lay minister, also children, young person, parents, married couple, wives, husbands, … well, you get the idea–lots of options).

I’ll reproduce option A from OCF 164 to give you a sample of the quality of these prayers. Definitely a step up from Roman Missal 1, and decidedly different from what we’ll see at Sunday Mass with the new translation:

Almighty God and Father,
it is our certain faith
that your Son, who died on the cross, was raised from the dead,
the firstfruits of all who have fallen asleep.
Grant that through this mystery
your servant N., who has gone to his/her rest in Christ,
may share in the joy of his resurrection.

We ask this through …

The mark of ICEL’s work in the 1980’s was a stronger connection to the Scriptures, especially the Lectionary, in the presidential prayers and other texts. While some commentators celebrate receiving the Lord “under our roof” in the English interpretation of MR3, that was not a development of Liturgiam Authenticam. It was already in place with ICEL a generation ago.

It also takes more than one reference to the Bible to strengthen the rites and their translations. It requires attention to detail and an eye for spiritual opportunities I don’t think exists today within ICEL, Vox Clara, or the curia (though I’d be happy to be proven wrong).

At this point, I’ll be pausing in my OCF commentary for about a week. It’s off to retreat tomorrow afternoon. There may be a post or two before then. But maybe not.

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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