To understand the function of this service we should recall its old name, Office for the Dead. It was the cause of considerable anguish for medieval men and women to think of the potentially long periods of time their relatives would spend in the painful fires of purgatory.
For a Woman
Along with the funding of funerary Masses, praying the Office was considered the most efficacious means of reducing this fiery price of obtaining paradise. These aids were essential, because only the living could help the dead. Vespers was ideally prayed in church over the coffin on the evening before the funeral Mass. It was either recited or chanted by monks hired specially for that purpose by the deceased's family or confraternity.
Matins and Lauds were then prayed, again by monks paid for this service, on the morning of the funeral itself. Funerals, however, were not the only time the Office was prayed. The tradition that required the ordained to recite the Office on a daily basis also encouraged the laity to pray it at home as often as possible. Whatever the setting, the purpose was always the same: Reblogged this on Divyakarunya Mariyabhavan, Mallappally.
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Vespers for the dead and prayers at a wake
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Office for the Dead
It is replaced to-day by a tract. A treatise of the 8th-9th century published by Muratori Liturg. The omission of the kiss of peace at the Mass is probably because that ceremony preceded the distribution of the Eucharist to the faithful and was a preparation for it, so, as communion is not given at the Mass for the Dead, the kiss of peace was suppressed.
Not to speak of the variety of ceremonies of the Mozarabic, Ambrosian, or Oriental liturgies, even in countries where the Roman liturgy prevailed, there were many variations. It is fortunate that the Roman Church preserved carefully and without notable change this office, which, like that of Holy Week, has retained for us in its archaic forms the memory and the atmosphere of a very ancient liturgy. The Mozarabic Liturgy possesses a very rich funeral ritual.
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He has also published a large number of votive masses of the dead. The Office of the Dead has been attributed at times to St.
Ambrose, and even to Origen. There is no foundation for these assertions. In its 20th century form, while it has some very ancient characteristics, it cannot be older than the 7th or even 8th century. Its authorship is discussed at length in the dissertation of Horatius de Turre.
How to Pray the Ancient and Powerful Office of the Dead
These opinions are more probable, but are not as yet very solidly established. Amalarius speaks of the Office of the Dead, but seems to imply that it existed before his time "De Eccles. He alludes to the "Agenda Mortuorum" contained in a sacramentary, but nothing leads us to believe that he was its author. Alcuin is also known for his activity in liturgical matters, and we owe certain liturgical compositions to him; but there is no reason for considering him the author of this office see Cabrol in "Dict. In the Gregorian Antiphonary we do find a mass and an office in agenda mortuorum, but it is admitted that this part is an addition; a fortiori this applies to the Gelasian.
The Maurist editors of St. But if it is impossible to trace the office and the mass in their actual form beyond the 9th or 8th century, it is notwithstanding certain that the prayers and a service for the dead existed long before that time. We find them in the 5th, 4th, and even in the 3rd and 2nd century. The Office of the Dead was composed originally to satisfy private devotion to the dead, and at first had no official character. Even in the 11th, 12th, and 13th centuries, it was recited chiefly by the religious orders the Cluniacs, Cistercians, Carthusians , like the Little Office of Our Lady see Guyet, loc.