Over a decade ago, we blogged on section 347 of the Order of Christian Funerals (OCF). According to the Church, these psalms may be “chosen for use in various places within the rites.” Mostly, I think this section was designed for the Liturgy of the Hours. But if any psalm in this section might be suitable for the funeral Mass, or any of the eight-verse portions of the 119th Psalm, this might be it.
First, we have an antiphon we you don’t see in the celebration of a funeral Mass. It’s a bit of an expansion of 119:32 as you see from the fourth stanza:
Lightly I run in the way you have shown,
for you have opened my heart to receive your law.
My soul holds fast to the dust;
revive me by your word.
I declared my ways and you answered me;
teach me your statutes.
Make me grasp the way of your precepts,
and I will ponder your wonders.
My soul pines away with grief;
by your word raise me up.
Keep me from the way of falsehood;
grant me mercy by your law.
I have chosen the way of faithfulness;
your decrees I have upheld.
I cling to your decrees, O LORD;
let me not be put to shame.
I will run the way of your commands;
you open wide my heart.
The 176 verses of this massive work can be a bit repetitive. I think the funeral rites are correct to parcel these out in eight-verse sections. Mixing and matching verses from all over this psalm is a bad idea too–it happens in the Sunday and daily Lectionary a few times. This “Daleth” section (the fourth letter of the Hebrew alphabet) has a consistency. Maybe it’s a fit for mourners: “my soul pines away with grief.” Casual mourners might not identify with running toward God and his commandments, but any believer can pray for an open heart. Certainly a time of death permits loved ones to confront their relationship with God, their gamut of feelings concerning the deceased, and how this occasion might re-orient their faith.
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