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Divine Office Forum: Office of the Dead

by Catherine Frakas 19 Apr 2002

Office of the Dead QUESTION from Sister Deborah Marie March 13, 2001 Dear Father, Peace in our Lord Jesus! My question concerns the praying of the Office of the Dead for a community member who has died. Currently we pray three consecutive days for the repose of the soul of our Sister. My question is, what, if any, are the guidelines for the recitaiton of the office of the dead? Does the Liturgical season (ie.Lent) take precedence and we mention Sister's name in the petitions? I would appreciate clarification and any guidance you are able to share.
Also, is there a preference to the Psalm number used in the invitatory psalm for each of the weeks...ex. Week I Ps 95, Week II, Ps.100,etc.
Thanks for your time and consideration in responding to my conerns!
Peace and all good things! Happy, Holy, Lent! Sister Deborah M
ANSWER by John-Paul Ignatius, OLSM on April 11, 2001k?5 Dear Sister:
Thanks for the promotion, but I am but a lowly lay brother, not clergy.
This turns out to be a hard question to answer. The General Instruction on the Liturgy of the Hours does not seem to address this, except No. 186 which states:
In the intercessions at evening prayer the last intention is always for the dead. Thus we can always prayer for our fellow brothers and sisters in the intentions during vespers (and we can add intentions to Lauds as well.
Since the GILH does not seem to specifically address this issue, I look to the GIRM for direction. What are the rules for the Mass for the Dead?
In the 4th Edition of the GIRM it states:
336. The funeral Mass has first place among the Masses for the dead and may be celebrated on any day except solemnities that are days of obligation, Holy Thursday, the Easter triduum, and the Sundays of Advent, Lent, and the Easter season. 337. On the occasions of news of a death, final burial, or the first anniversary, Mass for the dead may be celebrated even on days within the Christmas octave, on obligatory memorials, and on weekdays, except Ash Wednesday and during Holy Week.
Other Masses for the dead, that is, daily Masses, may be celebrated on weekdays in Ordinary Time when there is an optional memorial or the office is of the weekday, provided such Masses are actually offered for the dead.
Barring any specific legislation that deals with the Office of the Dead in the Divine Office, I think we can use the above as a guideline. Both the Mass and the Divine Office are liturgies of the Church and thus operate on similar principles.
On your second question, Psalm 95 is the primary Psalm of the Invitatory regardless of Week as it is the one directly referenced in the Ordinary. However, the Ordinary allows for alternative Psalms (100, 67, 24). One is free to substitute Psalm 95 for one or more of the other three, including doing a different one each Week. The rule, however, is that if any of these alternative psalms should occur in the office, then psalm 95 is said in place of it.
God Bless.
Bro. Ignatius
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