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16 Catholic Funeral Readings

A Catholic funeral is a time to mourn the loss of a loved one and to celebrate their life and faith. One important aspect of a Catholic funeral is the use of readings from the Bible, which offer comfort and hope to those who are grieving. In this article, we will explore the different types of Catholic funeral readings and their significance, with a focus on readings for mothers, Old Testament funeral readings, and Catholic funeral psalms.

How to choose meaningful Catholic funeral readings

Choosing meaningful readings for Catholic funerals can be a difficult task, especially in the midst of grief. To ensure you pick readings that you feel honor your loved one’s life and faith, here are a few tips:

  • Consider the deceased's beliefs and how they wanted their funeral to be conducted. Were they devoutly religious? Did they want a solemn or joyous celebration of life? Were there any passages the deceased found particularly poignant or important?
  • Ask family and friends for their input. Find out what type of readings the deceased enjoyed most, or which passages brought them comfort.
  • Review Catholic funeral readings on Ever Loved to get an idea of what is typically read at funerals. You can also consider unique readings that aren’t necessarily religious in nature.
  • Ask your priest or another religious leader to provide guidance and advice on choosing Catholic funeral readings. They can help you pick the most fitting passages that reflect the deceased's faith.

Once you've found a few meaningful readings, you can review them with the officiant beforehand for advice on how to best deliver them at the funeral.

What is the Catholic funeral liturgy?

The Catholic funeral liturgy, central to many Catholic funerals, is a series of texts, rites and prayers, followed by a Mass, that guide the faithful through what can be an emotionally difficult time. The most important elements include prayers for the deceased and their family, readings from Scripture, homilies or reflections from priests or family members, and finally the Eucharist. The Catholic funeral liturgy is also typically read in a specific order. The first readings for catholic funerals typically consist of an Old Testament reading, followed by a responsorial psalm. The second reading is usually from the New Testament. Lastly, the Gospel reading is usually taken from one of the four Gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke or John. Following the readings are additional prayers and blessings before the Eucharist is celebrated and communion is distributed.

Catholic funeral readings

Common Catholic funeral readings that can be used to honor mothers, fathers, siblings, and other loved ones include Psalm 23, which speaks of God's love and protection, and the Gospel reading of John 14:1-6, in which Jesus promises eternal life to his followers. Here are some additional suggestions:

  • Isaiah 43:2-3: “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you. When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned; the flame shall not consume you.”
  • Colossians 3:12-15: “Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind. Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another…”
  • 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18: “But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope…”

Old Testament funeral readings

Old Testament readings for Catholic funerals typically contain many passages that offer hope and comfort in times of grief. Some popular choices for Catholic funerals include Ecclesiastes 3:1-11, which speaks of the cycle of life and death, and Isaiah 25:6-9, which describes the hope of a heavenly banquet. The book of Job also offers wisdom and consolation for those who are mourning, with its themes of suffering, faith, and God's ultimate sovereignty. Here are some additional Old Testament readings below:

  • Psalm 23:1-6: “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures…”
  • Isaiah 41:10-13: “Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee…”
  • Jeremiah 29:11-14: “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end. Then shall ye call upon me…”

Catholic funeral psalms

Part of the Catholic funeral liturgy is typically reading a few Psalms. Psalm 23, also known as the Shepherd's Psalm, is perhaps the most well-known and offers a message of comfort and trust in God's care. Other psalms that are commonly used in Catholic funerals include Psalm 27, which speaks of God's protection and salvation, and Psalm 121, which offers reassurance of God's constant presence and help. Following are some additional Psalms to consider as part of your Catholic funeral mass readings:

  1. Psalm 23:1-3: “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures…”
  2. Psalm 27:1-5: “The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?”
  3. Psalm 46:1-3: “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed…”
  4. Psalm 91:1-2: “He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress…”
  5. Psalm 139:7-12: “Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence? If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there…”

Non-religious readings for a Catholic funeral

Having a Catholic funeral doesn't necessitate that all readings and prayers be from the Bible. Though Bible readings for funerals are common, it's definitely possible to have non-religious readings at a Catholic funeral. If you're concerned about Mass and following the funeral liturgy, but want to use non-religious readings, it can help to first talk to your priest. They may have some suggestions on placement in the services, type of reading, or offer some comfort if there's any concern. If you're looking for text that's non-denominational, consider some of these uplifting funeral readings:

"Do not stand at my grave and weep" by Mary Elizabeth Frye

Do not stand at my grave and weep,
I am not there, I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow,
I am the diamond glint on snow.
I am the sunlight on ripened grain,
I am the gentle autumn rain.
When you awaken in the morning's hush,
I am the swift uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circled flight.
I am the soft stars that shine at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry,
I am not there, I did not die.

"She is Gone" by David Harkins

You can shed tears that she is gone
Or you can smile because she has lived
You can close your eyes and pray that she will come back
Or you can open your eyes and see all that she has left
Your heart can be empty because you can't see her
Or you can be full of the love that you shared
You can turn your back on tomorrow and live yesterday
Or you can be happy for tomorrow because of yesterday
You can remember her and only that she is gone
Or you can cherish her memory and let it live on
You can cry and close your mind, be empty and turn your back
Or you can do what she would want: smile, open your eyes, love and go on.

"Remember" by Christina Rossetti

Remember me when I am gone away,
Gone far away into the silent land;
When you can no more hold me by the hand,
Nor I half turn to go yet turning stay.
Remember me when no more day by day
You tell me of our future that you plann'd:
Only remember me; you understand
It will be late to counsel then or pray.
Yet if you should forget me for a while
And afterwards remember, do not grieve:
For if the darkness and corruption leave
A vestige of the thoughts that once I had,
Better by far you should forget and smile
Than that you should remember and be sad.

"Epitaph on a Friend" by Robert Burns

An honest man here lies at rest,
As e'er God with his image blest:
The friend of man, the friend of truth;
The friend of age, and guide of youth:
Few hearts like his, with virtue warm'd,
Few heads with knowledge so inform'd:
If there's another world, he lives in bliss;
If there is none, he made the best of this.

"Funeral Blues" by W.H. Auden

Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone,
Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone,
Silence the pianos and with muffled drum
Bring out the coffin, let the mourners come.

Let aeroplanes circle moaning overhead
Scribbling on the sky the message He Is Dead,
Put crepe bows round the white necks of the public doves,
Let the traffic policemen wear black cotton gloves.

He was my North, my South, my East and West,
My working week and my Sunday rest,
My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song;
I thought that love would last for ever: I was wrong.

The stars are not wanted now: put out every one;
Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun;
Pour away the ocean and sweep up the wood;
For nothing now can ever come to any good.

Catholic funeral readings offer a powerful source of comfort and hope for those who are grieving. Whether it's a reading for a mother, an Old Testament passage, or a psalm, these readings remind folks of God's love and mercy and can provide a sense of peace in the midst of loss.

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Last updated March 12, 2023
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