Catholic readings for funerals incorporate selections from the Old and New Testaments. The Catholic liturgy for a funeral is focused on providing comfort and courage for family and friends who are mourning the death of a loved one. Discuss your preferences with the officiant and select biblical passages for the service that will offer consolation and strength to the attendees who are gathered to remember and honor the person who died.
A Selection of Catholic Readings for Funerals
At a Catholic funeral Mass, there are usually three readings from the Bible. These selections are chosen from the Order of Christian Funerals, a guidebook for conducting funerals. The first is a passage from the Old Testament. The next is from the epistles which are found in the New Testament, and the third is from the gospels of the New Testament.
Funeral Readings From the Old Testament
The Old Testament has a number of meaningful options for Catholic funeral readings. Examples (with excerpts) include:
- Ecclesiastes 3:1-11: "There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven; a time to be born and a time to die."
- Isaiah 40:1-11: "Comfort, comfort my people, says your God."
- Isaiah 25:6a, 7-9: "He will destroy death forever."
- Daniel 12:1-3: "Many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake."
- Micah 7:7-9: "Though I dwell in the darkness, the Lord is a light for me."
- Wisdom 3:1-9: "The souls of the just are in the hands of God."
- Wisdom 4:7-14: "The Righteous One, though he dies early, shall be at rest."
- Maccabees 2:43-46: "He acted in an excellent and noble way as he had the resurrection of the dead in view."
- Lamentations 3:17-26: "It is good to hope in the silence for the saving help of the Lord."
- Job 19:1, 23-27: "I know that my Vindicator lives."
- Sirach 2:1-11: "For in fire gold is tested."
- Ezekiel 37:12-14: "O my people, I will open your graves and have you rise."
Funeral Readings From the New Testament
The New Testament has many poignant Catholic funeral readings. Examples (with passage excerpts) include:
- Romans 5:17-21: "Where sin increased, grace overflowed all the more."
- Romans 6:3-9: "If we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall live with him."
- Romans 14:7-9, 10c-12: "Whether we live or die, we are the Lord's."
- Acts of the Apostles 10:34-43: "Everyone who believes in him will receive forgiveness of sins."
- 1 Corinthians 15:20-28: "So too in Christ shall all be brought to life."
- 2 Corinthians 4:14-5:1: "What is seen is transitory, but what is unseen is eternal."
- 2 Corinthians 5:1, 6-10: "We have a building from God, eternal in heaven."
- Philippians 3:20-21: "He will change our lowly bodies to conform to his glory."
- 2 Timothy 4:1-2, 6-8: "I have competed well, I have finished the race..."
- 1 John 3:1-2: "Beloved, we are God's children now."
- 1 John 3:14-16: "We know that we have passed from death to life because we love our brothers."
- Revelation 14:13: "Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord."
Catholic Funeral Readings From the Gospels
The Gospels have a number of appropriate readings for Catholic funeral services. Popular options (with excerpts) include:
- Matthew 5:1-12a: "Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven."
- Matthew 11:25-30: "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest."
- Luke 22:33, 39-43: "Today you will be with me in Paradise."
- Luke 23:44-46, 50, 52-53; 24:1-6a: "Father, into your hands I commend my spirit."
- Luke 24: 13-35: "Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?"
- John 5:24-29: "Whoever hears my word and believes has passed from death to life."
- John 6:37-40: "Everyone who sees the Son and believes in him may have eternal life and I shall raise him on the last day."
- John 6:51-58: "Whoever eats this bread will live forever, and I will raise them up on the last day."
- John 11:17-27: "I am the resurrection and the life."
- John 17:24-26: "I wish that where I am they also may be with me."
- John 19:17-30: "Jesus bowed his head and gave up his spirit."
More Suggested Funeral Readings for Loved Ones
Choosing a reading for your loved one's funeral service is emotional and personal. Meaningful readings can provide comfort in your grief and help remind you that death is not the end. Adapt your choices based on your relationship to the person whose life will be honored at the funeral.
Funeral Readings for a Father
A few readings (with passage excerpts) recommended for a father's funeral Mass include:
- Wisdom 3:1-9: "But the souls of the just are in the hand of God, and no torment shall touch them. They seemed, in the view of the foolish, to be dead; and their passing away was thought an affliction and their going forth from us, utter destruction. But they are in peace."
- Romans 5:17-21: "For if by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God's abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ."
- 2 Corinthians 5:1: "For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens."
Psalm 23:1-3: "The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul."
Funeral Readings for a Mother
Examples of bible passages (with excerpts) recommended for a mother's funeral Mass include:
- John 14:1-4: "Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father's house are many rooms."
- Ecclesiastes 3:1-8: "There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven: a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance."
- John 14:27: "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid."
Funeral Readings for a Child
Bible readings commonly featured in funeral services for children include:
- Matthew 19:14: "But Jesus said, 'Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.'"
1 Samuel 1:27-28: "'For this child I prayed, and the Lord has granted me my petition that I made to him. Therefore, I have lent him to the Lord. As long as he lives, he is lent to the Lord.'" And he worshiped the Lord there.
Matthew 18:1-4: "At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, 'Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?' And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them and said, 'Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.'"
General Order of Service for Funeral Mass
When planning a Catholic funeral, it's important to be aware that this type of service has four parts. They include:
- Opening Rites
- Liturgy of the Word
- Liturgy of the Eucharist
- Concluding Rites
When Mass is given for a child who has died and has been baptized in the Catholic faith, the order of the service is slightly changed. Understanding that the grief is extraordinary, special attention is given to the deceased child's family and friends.
Suggested Music for a Catholic Funeral
Music is important at a Catholic funeral. There is usually an organ or piano to accompany the songs played at a Catholic funeral. For a full mass, a choir may be present to sing and join in the congregational responses to the funeral rites.
- During the opening rites, favorite hymns such as Amazing Grace and Here I am, Lord are usually played.
- The Lord Is My Shepherd is often sung during the liturgy of the Word.
- As the Eucharist is being prepared, songs like Ave Maria, Blest Are They and the Prayer of Saint Francis are popular selections.
- During communion, I am the Bread of Life or Pan De Vida may be played.
- Popular processional selections include How Great Thou Art or On Eagle's Wings.
A Catholic Approach to Grieving
Since those of the Catholic faith do believe in eternal life, they do not mourn without hope. Those still alive are sorrowful and remorseful over the death of their dearly departed loved one. The funeral Mass is a celebration of life, offering praise, worship, and thanksgiving to God. The deceased has now been given back to God.