MR Prefaces: For the Dead IV

The fourth Roman Missal preface “for the dead” has a theme, in case a quick glance at the five pages of these texts is all there’s time to do: From earthly life to heavenly glory. Don’t harp on me if you think funerals emphasize the positive too much at the expense of hell and damnation and days of wrath. These are the texts of the Church, emphasizing for liturgy where the priorities lie.

Second edition translation:

Current translation:

For it is at your summons that we come to birth,
by your will that we are governed,
and at your command that we return,
on account of sin,
to that earth from which we came.

And when you give the sign,
we who have been redeemed by the Death of your Son,
shall be raised up to the glory of his Resurrection.

While the third edition, as usual, more closely aligns with the Latin original, I think the second edition has some better points. The reference to “the law of sin” reminds me of this passage from Saint Paul, not a funeral reading, as it happens:

Hence, now there is no condemnation
for those who are in Christ Jesus.
For the law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus
has freed you from the law of sin and death. (Romans 8:1-2)

The mention to the return of the mortal body to dust is far more frequent to the Christian ear: Genesis 3:19 (where the Ash Wednesday acclamation originates), Ecclesiastes 3:10 and 12:19, Psalm 90:3 and 104:29c, to name a few.

And third, I don’t think the liturgy can ever recall “mercy” too much.

Perhaps the problem with these funeral prefaces, first one excepted, is that I find the original texts wanting. They don’t have to be long, but considering how often infrequent worshipers attend funerals, I don’t think it’s a bad time to offer familiar touchstones–the basics of Christian faith. Even a hint of Ash Wednesday.

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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