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The Celebration of the Christian Mystery

419

the anointing of the Holy Spirit, and participation in the feast of the

Kingdom which was anticipated in the Eucharist—even if final

purifications are still necessary for him in order to be clothed with

the nuptial garment.

1683

The Church who, as Mother, has borne the Christian sac-

ramentally in her womb during his earthly pilgrimage, accompa-

nies him at his journey’s end, in order to surrender him “into the

Father’s hands.” She offers to the Father, in Christ, the child of his

grace, and she commits to the earth, in hope, the seed of the body

that will rise in glory.

186

This offering is fully celebrated in the

Eucharistic sacrifice; the blessings before and after Mass are sacra-

mentals.

II.

T

he

C

elebration of

F

unerals

1684

The Christian funeral is a liturgical celebration of the Church. The

ministry of the Church in this instance aims at expressing efficacious

communion with

the deceased,

at the participation in that communion of

the community

gathered for the funeral, and at the proclamation of eternal

life to the community.

1685

The different funeral rites express the

Paschal character

of Chris-

tian death and are in keeping with the situations and traditions of each

region, even as to the color of the liturgical vestments worn.

187

1686

The

Order of Christian Funerals

(

Ordo exsequiarum

) of the Roman

liturgy gives three types of funeral celebrations, corresponding to the three

places in which they are conducted (the home, the church, and the ceme-

tery), and according to the importance attached to them by the family, local

customs, the culture, and popular piety. This order of celebration is

common to all the liturgical traditions and comprises four principal ele-

ments:

1687

The greeting of the community.

A greeting of faith begins the cele-

bration. Relatives and friends of the deceased are welcomed with a word of

“consolation” (in the New Testament sense of the Holy Spirit’s power in

hope).

188

The community assembling in prayer also awaits the “words of

eternal life.” The death of a member of the community (or the anniversary of

a death, or the seventh or thirtieth day after death) is an event that should lead

beyond the perspectives of “this world” and should draw the faithful into the

true perspective of faith in the risen Christ.

1688

The liturgy of the Word during funerals demands very careful

preparation because the assembly present for the funeral may include

some faithful who rarely attend the liturgy, and friends of the deceased

who are not Christians. The homily in particular must “avoid the literary

186 Cf.

1 Cor

15:42-44.

187 Cf.

SC

81.

188 Cf.

1 Thess

4:18.

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