Ministry to the Dying, Dead, and Bereaved
Part 2 History

Chapter f29 Vatican II [1960-1975 CE]

Secular History

Church History

Ministry to the Dead and Bereaved

Secular History

The secular culture is beginning to "deny" death.  The embalmed body is prepared to look as though alive but sleeping; etc. 

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Church History

The general liturgical principles of the Second Vatican Council which directed the general reform of the liturgical rites are applied also to the rites for the dead and the bereaved.  e.g. active participation (vernacular language), extensive use of Scripture, rites understandable to the faithful, etc...

The theological developments which formed the council decisions, apply also to the rites for the dead and the bereaved.  e.g. Scriptural insights into the nature of God (the loving abba of Jesus replaces the distant, unloving God of Aristotle and the Greek philosophers); renewed understanding of the Paschal Victory;

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Ministry to the Dead and Bereaved

Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy - Sacrosanctum Concilium - December 4, 1963

CHAPTER III:  THE OTHER SACRAMENTS AND THE SACRAMENTALS

81. The rite for the burial of the dead should express more clearly the paschal character of Christian death, and should correspond more closely to the circumstances and traditions found in various regions. This holds good also for the liturgical color to be used.

82. The rite for the burial of infants is to be revised, and a special Mass for the occasion should be provided.

Commentary: 

1.  The rite for the burial of the dead should express more clearly the paschal character of Christian death -- this is the major "tip of the pistol" change.

2.  ... and should correspond more closely to the circumstances and traditions found in various regions.  The beginnings of local adaption after years of strict uniformity of the Roman Rite.

3.  ...also for the liturgical color to be used. (Note:  black becomes white; white becomes black).

4.  The rite for the burial of infants is to be revised, and a special Mass for the occasion should be provided. The Requiem was much too "harsh" and the votive Mass for the Angels was used for the funerals of infants.  Of course, the text had nothing to do with the death of an infant.  Once the funeral rite for adults is revised, it was evident that there was no longer any necessity for a "special Mass" for infants -- only specific orations were prepared.

The Revision of the Ritual

Consilium ad exsequendam Constitutionem de Sacra Liturgia
Commission for the Implementation of the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy
(See:  Liturgical Law Today, pp 89, 102, 201, 227.)

January 25, 1964. Paul VI with the motu proprio Sacram liturgiam sets up the Consilium to implement the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy. The consilium divided itself into about forty working groups (coetus) each with a chairman.

Coetus #23. The Roman Ritual II (includes Marriage, Anointing, Funerals) -- P.-M. Gy OP

Pierre-Marie Gy said in class that they decided to focus the ritual around 3 "stations"  the home (or mortuary); the church (the funeral Mass) and the cemetery (burial). 

1969 August 15   Ordo exsequiarum  (The official text of the revised Roman rite for funerals, i.e. the editio typica.  Mandatory [when celebrated in Latin] on 1970 June 1.

1970 Rite of Funerals (first ICEL translation of the Ordo exsequiarum into English)

1989 Order of Christian Funerals (second ICEL translation and adaptation of the Ordo exsequarum with adaptations for the English speaking countries and USCCB prayers for the USA).

1985  Approved by the USCCB on Nov 14,1985
1987  Confirmed by the Apostolic See on April 29, 1987
1989  Published after 1989 October 1;
1989  Mandatory on 1989 November 2, All Souls day. 

Tip of the pistol changes

When we first look at the changes in the funeral liturgy following the Council we see:  white vestments, a variety of readings, Mass in English, incorporation of Baptismal elements, ... etc.

But at the tip of the pistol the major changes are:
The rites are more for the living than for the dead
The rites are celebrating the Paschal Victory of Christ more than morning the devil's grasp of the deceased.

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Copyright: Tom Richstatter.  All Rights Reserved.  This page was created by Fr. Thomas Richstatter, O.F.M.  Every effort has been, and is being made to acknowledge sources when the ideas are not my own.  Any failure to comply with the United States Copyright Act (Title 17, United States Code) will be corrected immediately should I become aware of it.  This site was updated on 08/15/14.  Your comments on this site are welcome at trichstatter@franciscan.org