OCF 264-275: Funeral Liturgy for a Child

The Church has already described the funeral liturgy in OCF 128-153. In today’s twelve sections, we find a set of reminders, mainly those aspects of adult funerals that pertain to those of a child. Instead of drawing out this post over several days, I’ll highlight the points of adaptation.

For the benefit of children present, the minister may preach briefly on any Christian symbols used when the body is received at church (OCF 266). In the case of an unbaptized child, the sprinkling and its usual accompanying text are not done/spoken. The minister will have an alternate introduction and prayer.  The rite makes it clear that other Christian symbols, including the Paschal candle, may be utilized for the unbaptized.

OCF 268-270 briefly covers the Funeral Mass. The only adaptation explicitly listed is for the intercessions, that “models” are given in the rite. Again this is in keeping with what we’ve seen in other places in the OCF, that adaptations are less on-the-spot improvisations and more a thoughtful planning and composition for the benefit of the faithful, not the leaders.

The funeral liturgy outside of Mass (271-75) would replace a funeral Mass for the same reasons given for an adult: liturgical, the lack of an available priest, or the judgment of pastor and family.

Notable in the Order of Christian Funerals is that there is no separate funeral rite for a deceased child. There is also no sense that a child is given a “mini-funeral.” While children may be present, the understanding is that simplified, but not “simple” language may be used, and that sensible and appropriate explanations may be provided. In the case of the death of a adult who has worked with children (a teacher, coach, administrator, counsellor, etc.) it might make sense to have a careful eye on the adaptations for young worshipers provided in the rite.


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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