OCF 234: Part II Funeral Rites for Children

The following instruction and rites through OCF 342 is a post-conciliar innovation: an explicit adaptation of rites for children that were written for adults. It happened with baptism–so there is some precedent. And as for the notion of organic development, I for one am glad to see that pastoral good sense superceded the notion that the Church’s rites are complete enough as they are and require slow updating, if at all.

234. Part II of the Order of Christian Funerals provides rites that are used in the funerals of infants and young children, including those of early school age. It includes “Vigil for a Deceased Child,” “Funeral Liturgy,” and “Rite of Committal.”

Part II does not contain “Related Rites and Prayers,” nos. 98-127, which are brief rites for prayer with family and friends before the funeral liturgy. The rites as they are presented in Part I are models and should be adapted by the minister to the circumstances of the funeral for a child.

A few questions pop up. What would constitute “early school age?” I would think certainly through age seven/eight at First Communion. Maybe a year or two past this. Probably not adolescents. Certainly not a confirmed teen. Ministers have the freedom in many places in the rites to adapt for particular circumstances. I would assume that a sensitive pastor, liturgist, or pastoral minister are always adapting appropriately, and that a funeral for an eight-year-old wouldn’t be a cookie cutter copy of one for an eleven-year old.

Remember, we’ll take this instroductory section through OCF 242 in detail, then look at highlights for the rest of the text. Any thoughts or questions?

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in the Pacific Northwest, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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1 Response to OCF 234: Part II Funeral Rites for Children

  1. Liam says:

    To see the changes here, it might help to understand preconciliar practice: there was no Requiem Mass for deceased baptised infants (children who had not yet attained the age of reason). Go directly to heaven. I think the votive Mass of the Angels was most common, which is purportedly why the Missa de Angelis setting became well known (though I wonder in the US how many Masses of this sort had music). White vestments for the celebrant and a crown of flowers for the deceased.

    Given the commonality of infant death, one can see this in practical effect as both touchingly comforting as well as gratingly insensitive to grief, simultaneously….

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