Re-Reading Sacrosanctum Concilium: Article 82

Vatican website translation:

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

Latin text:

82. Recognoscatur ritus sepeliendi parvulos, ac propria Missa donetur.

Slavishly literal translation:

82. Let the rite of interring children be reviewed/revised, and a proper Mass [for this purpose] be given.

The Roman Ritual in use prior to the Second Vatican Council provided funeral prayers for baptized children mostly concentrating on their presumed purity because of their inability to commit actual sins. However the funeral Mass appearing in the Roman Missal did not make any special provision for the burial of children in its texts or ceremonies. The Council Fathers decided that a pastoral approach in the care surrounding the death of children should also be reflected in the liturgical texts. This concern has not only led to the creation of new liturgical texts and lectionary selections for the burial of children, but to changes in the texts and ceremonies intended for the pastoral care of sick and dying children.

Pray Tell readers may wish to discuss how effectively the present texts and ceremonies help proclaim Christian faith in the Resurrection in the face of the death of children and if there are further modifications of the rites that might be appropriate.



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5 responses to “Re-Reading Sacrosanctum Concilium: Article 82”

  1. Jim Pauwels Avatar
    Jim Pauwels

    I don’t really have any objections to the texts. One thing I do see from time to time is the options for baptized children being used for unbaptized children. I suspect this is because the presider wishes to convey the comfort of sure and certain hope to the grieving loved ones, and the texts for an unbaptized child are a good deal less sure in that regard.

  2. Todd Flowerday Avatar

    Two additions to the Lectionary for Funeral Mass for a child are Mark 10:13-16, most frequently used for the Rite of Baptism of an infant outside of Mass. Psalm 148 is an interesting choice for the Psalm at Mass, presumably because of the reference, “old men together with children,” which is rendered more simply in the NABRE, “old and young alike.” (148:12b)

    It is interesting that the framers of the OCF Lectionary consistently offered shorter passages for the funeral of a child compared to the adult offerings. I suppose if a parish school student body were attending a funeral of a classmate, that would make some sense. But it seems that adults would make up the majority of most funeral assemblies. Why the shorter pericopes?

  3. Matthew Roth Avatar

    So… by Rituale Romanum texts, do we mean those for ceremonies which are associated with the funeral & take place in the church and at the cemetery? I mean items like the procession into the church with the body, the departure, etc. Those, as you said, are distinct from other rites.

    I’ll have to look more into this when I have a moment.

    1. Todd Flowerday Avatar

      @Matthew Roth – comment #3:
      The Order of Christian Funerals collects all of these into a single body, published in a single volume. The rites are all separate and distinct, but they are all related.

  4. Mike Joncas Avatar
    Mike Joncas

    Todd is correct in noting that for the OF The Order of Christian Funerals collects rites from various sources into a volume that is quite pastorally useful.

    My reference was to the pre-Vatican II Roman Ritual (and presumably that used in the EF) that offers the following: 1) an introduction “De Exsequiis” giving practical instructions and exhortations about burying the faithful (e.g., “Clerics should never act as pallbearers for a layman, no matter what his rank or dignity may have been”). 2) “Exsequiarum Ordo” (The Rite of Burial), consisting of a) a procession with psalm-singing from the home of the deceased to the church; b) the singing of the “Subvenite” when the coffin enters the church and the placement of the coffin; c) the Office of the Dead; d) a notice that the Mass on the day of burial is to be celebrated (texts in the Missale Romanum); e) an “Absolutio supra Defunctum” (Absolution over the Deceased) marked by the singing of “Libera me, Domine”; f) a procession to the grace marked by the singing of “In paradisum”; g) a grave-side service. 3) The texts for Vespers, Matins and Lauds of the Office of the Dead. 4) Instructions on funeral rites when the body is not present. 5) The “Ordo Sepeliendi Parvulos” (Order of Burying Children) including a) a station at the home; b) a procession with psalm-singing to the church; c) Psalm 23/24 sung as the body enters the church; d) a procession with psalm-singing to the grave; e) a graveside service; f) a procession back to the church with the singing of the “Canticle of the Three Youths” from Daniel.

    I hope this is helpful in understanding the context in which the Council Fathers decreed arts. 81 and 82.

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