Today, in the 1962 Dominican Rite Calendar, we commemorate the Anniversary of the Deceased Parents of the members of our Order. The ferial office is prayed, with a commemoration of Ss. Vedast and Amand. At Pretiosa, the Anniversary is announced as follows:
The anniversary of our Fathers and Mothers;
At Pretiosa, Psalm 129 is prayed, as it always is on the day of an Anniversary. Afterwards, the Prayer for the Anniversary is prayed:
O God, Lord of mercies, give to the souls of your servants, whose anniversary we keep, the home of refreshment, the blessedness of peace and the brightness of light. Through Christ our Lord.
In addition, the Office of the Dead is prayed, and the Collect prayer for our parents is used:
O God, You have commanded us to honor our father and mother; in Your loving kindness have mercy on the souls of our parents; forgive them their sins, and bring us to see them in the joy of eternal light. Through our Lord…
The Office of the Dead should be prayed today, but the rubrics allow for it to be prayed any time during the week.
It is a sad fact of life today, that attending a Roman Catholic funeral can be as course of tremendous frustration and sadness. Against the teaching of the Church, the priest often canonizes the recently deceased during the homily, and there is never an admonition to pray for the repose of the soul of the deceased. The presumption is that, they lived a good life and they are in Heaven now. This is a tragedy of supernatural proportions. How many souls suffer the fires of Purgatory, for unnecessarily long periods of time, due to a lack of sufferages for them? And how much more of a tragedy is it when children, due to poor catechesis and poor homiletics on the part of priests, neglect to help alleviate the suffering of their own parents?
Against this outrage stands the age old tradition of the Dominican Order, to remember the souls of our parents on a special day set aside as an anniversary. This anniversary is included in the oldest extant liturgical calender of the Order (on February 4)...that of Humbert de Romans which dates from the middle of the 13th Century.
The old Dominican Tertiaries’ Manual (1959) provides a brief yet apropos meditation on this blessed anniversary, wherein we make sufferages to our parents who, while they lived on earth, made endless sacrifices for us. Although my parents are still alive, it is a tremendous consolation to both them and myself, to know that the entire Dominican Order will be praying for them after they pass from this life.
The Order never lets us forget how much we owe to our fathers and mothers, and when they have departed this life, we are urged to pray fervently for their release from purifying flames of Purgatory. By becoming members of the Third Order we are bound even more closely to our beloved parents and become even more faithful than we have been to those whom God has commended us to honor. Although we can never repay the debt of gratitude we owe to our parents, still in some measure we can repay them for the years of constant care and solicitude in watching over our temporal and spiritual welfare by helping them by our prayers, Masses, and Holy Communion when they are anxiously awaiting their entrance into Heaven. Surely they in turn will be even more helpful to us here below when they are at last before the Throne of God in the realm of eternal happiness.
Requiem aeternam dona eis, Domine, et lux perpetua luceat eis. Requiescant in pace. Amen.