August 7, 2009

Office for the Dead

I have been praying the Liturgy of the Hours, in some form, in whole or in part, for about sixteen years. Nevertheless, there are still things I haven't figured out.

One of these is the Office for the Dead. When does it get used? As the proper for All Souls Day, of course, but at what other liturgical times?

I don't find anything about this in the General Instruction. Is the Office for the Dead an option that can replace the offices otherwise assigned or optioned for a particular day? What sort of days would impede this option? Sundays and solemnities of precept for sure, but what about solemnities without precept or feasts? (I.e. does it work like the options for Mass?) Is the Office for the Dead meant to be said in addition to the Office of the day?

I have developed the habit of using the Office for the Dead for those liturgical hours that occur within the stations of the the funeral liturgy (e.g. Blessing of the Body, Vigil Service, Mass, Committal) for one of our friars, unless it's a Sunday, solemnity, or feast.

This seems fitting to me, but I don't know for sure.


Rachel Gray said...

I visited a congregation of Carmelites that would pray that Office for the Dead once a week for the deceased of their community.

Matt said...

I don't really know either, although I'm hardly as familiar with the Divine Office as you are. Whenever I have prayed the Office for the Dead it was in addition to the particular psalmody for the day, be it from the psalter or from the proper of saints or seasons. I've also injected Office for the Dead psalms into the form of the particular day or taken psalms from the day and everything else from the Office for the Dead.

I've only prayed it a few times, once for the repose of the souls of deceased family members (this I prayed independently, in addition to the prayers for the day and using only the psalmody, antiphons, reading, etc from the Office for the Dead), for Fr. Sylvan Conover, and for Fr. Owen Shelley (which I prayed twice, once in a community and once privately. Privately I took everything from the Office for the Dead and in community I mixed it with antiphons from the day and week of the psalter) I plan to pray it for Fr. Jack Niland as well, most likely independently and solely from the Office for the Dead.

Probably doesn't help much, but that's what I've done...

NC Sue said...

I don't know, either, but would love you to offer prayers for my sister, Meg, who died unexpectedly 2 years ago.

carl said...

I can't find anything in the GILH, either. So in this case, I point to what the EF does, since it actually is explained and becomes a case of continuity between the forms of our rite.

The rubrics in my bilingual BR, published at Collegeville in '63, say, "This Office is said in choir on the day of burial and on other days when the occasion is suitable or when the custom of the particular church calls for it: Matins together with Lauds after Lauds of the day, Vespers after Vespers of the day..." The collects provided suggest that we might consider the third, seventh and 30th days after burial "other days when the occasion is suitable", as well as the anniversary of burial.

And in the BR the Office of the Dead is said in addition to the office of the day, rather than replacing the office of the day. I believe that means it can be said any day, even Sundays and solemnities, since it does not impede their celebration, and since nothing seems to contradict this option.

Brother Charles said...

Thanks everybody! Carl, I like the way you think, even if it means having to say more prayers. :)

David Wilding said...

The relevant paragraph in the General Instruction of the Liturgy of the Hours is #245:
245. For a public cause or out of devotion, except on solemnities, the Sundays of the seasons of Advent, Lent, and Easter, Ash Wednesday, Holy Week, the octave of Easter, and 2 November, a votive office may be celebrated, in whole or in part: for example, on the occasion of a pilgrimage, a local feast, or the external solemnity of a saint.

Here, the Office of the Dead is included under "votive offices." Note that it is allowed on Sundays of Ordinary Time.

The Office of the Dead, when prayed, replaces the Office of the day. One is never required to duplicate or double offices, similar to the way in which multiple Collects are prayed in the extraordinary form when commemorations coincide. In this respect, the Extraordinary Form is no longer a useful model.
The Office of the Dead may even replace selected parts of the office of the day, as accords with a particular commemoration. For example, my community celebrates Vespers of the Dead the evening before a funeral, then Vigils (Office of Readings) and Morning Prayer both from the Office of the Dead on the morning of the funeral. After the funeral, we return to the office of the day.

Brother Charles said...

Excellent! Thanks!