Funerals – Suggested Readings

OLD TESTAMENT READINGS

1.A Reading from the book of Wisdom (3:1-6,9)
The souls of the virtuous are in the hands of God, no torment shall ever touch them. In the eyes of the unwise they did appear to die, their going looked like a disaster, their leaving us, like utter destruction, but they are at peace. If they experienced punishment as we see it,  their hope was rich with the promise of eternal life; slight was their affliction, great will their blessings be. God has put them to the test and proved them worthy to be with Him; He has tested them like gold in the furnace, and accepted them as a holocaust. They who trust in him  will understand the truth, those who are faithful will live with him in love; for grace and mercy await those whom He has chosen.

2.A Reading from the book of Ecclesiasticus (44:1-6,10)
Next, let us praise illustrious people, our ancestors in their successive  generations. The Lord has created an abundance of glory and displayed  his greatness from the earliest times. Some wielded authority as kings and were renowned for their strength; others were intelligent advisers and uttered prophetic oracles. Others directed the people by their advice, by their understanding of the popular mind and by the wise words of their teaching; others composed musical melodies, and set down ballads; others were rich and powerful, living peacefully in their homes. But here is a list of generous people whose good works have not been forgotten

3. A Reading from the book of Wisdom (4:7-15)
The virtuous person, though he/she die before his/her time, will find rest. Length of days is not what makes age honourable, nor number of years  the true measure of life; understanding, this is grey hairs; untarnished life, this is ripe old age. He/she has sought to please God, so God has loved him/her; as he/she was living among sinners, he/she has been taken up. He/she has been carried off so that evil may not warp his/her understanding, or treachery seduce his/her soul; for the fascination of  evil throws good things into the shade, and the whirlwind of desire corrupts a simple heart. Coming to perfection in so short a while,  he/she achieved long life; his/her soul being pleasing to the Lord, he  has taken him/her quickly from the wickedness around him/her. Yet people look on uncomprehending; it does not enter their heads that grace and  mercy await the chosen of the Lord, and protection, his holy ones.

4. A Reading from the book of Ecclesiastes (3:2-8)
There is a season for everything, a time for every occupation under heaven:
A time for giving birth; a time for dying.
A time for planting; a time for uprooting.
A time for building; a time for tearing down.
A time for sorrow; a time for joy.
A time for mourning; a time for dancing;
A time for making love; a time to refrain from making love.
A time for finding; a time for losing.
A time for saving; a time for throwing away.
A time for mending; a time for tearing.
A time for keeping silent; a time for speaking.
A time for conflict; a time for peace.

5.A Reading from the prophet Isaiah (41:10; 44:22: 49:15-16)
Fear not, I am with you; be not dismayed; I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you, and uphold you with my right hand of justice. For I am the Lord, your God, who grasps your right hand; It is I who say to you “Fear not, I will help you.” I have brushed away your offences like a  cloud, your sins like a mist; return to me, for I have redeemed you. Can a mother forget her infant, be without tenderness for the child within  her womb? Even should she forget, I will never forget you. See, upon the palm of my hand I have written your name. Yes, in joy you shall depart, in peace you shall be brought back.

6.A Reading from the book of Lamentations (3: 17-26)
My soul is shut out from peace: I have forgotten happiness. And now I say  “My strength is gone, that hope which came from the Lord.” Brooding on  my anguish and affliction, my spirit ponders it continually and sinks  within me. This is what I shall tell my heart, and so recover hope: the favours of the Lord are not all passed, his kindnesses are not all exhausted; every morning they are renewed; great is his faithfulness.  “My portion is the lord”, says my soul, “and so I will hope in him.” The Lord is food to those who trust in Him, to the soul that searches for  him. It is good to wait in silence for the Lord to save.

7.A Reading from the prophet Isaiah (43: 1-5)
Thus says Yahweh, God, who created you: Do not be afraid, I have called you  by your name, you are mine. Should you pass through the sea, I will be with you; or through rivers, they will not swallow you up. Should you walk through fire, you will not be scorched and the flames will not burn you. For I am Yahweh, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your saviour.  You are precious in my eyes, you are honoured and I love you. Do not be afraid, for I am with you.

8.A Reading from the prophet Isaiah (25: 6-9)
On this mountain, the Lord of hosts will prepare for all peoples a banquet of rich food. On this mountain He will remove the mourning veil covering all peoples, and the shroud enwrapping all nations, He will destroy death for ever. The Lord will wipe away the tears from every cheek; he will take away his people’s shame everywhere on earth, for the Lord has said so. That day, it will be said: See, this is our God in whom we hoped for salvation; the Lord is the one in whom we hoped. We  exult and rejoice that he has saved us.

9.A Reading from the prophet Micah (6: 6-8)
With what shall I enter God’s presence and bow down before God all-high? Shall I enter with burnt offerings, with calves one year old? Will he be pleased with rams by the thousand, with ten thousand barrels of oil?  Shall I offer my eldest son for my wrong-doing, the child of my own body for my sin? You have already been told what is right and what God wants of you. Only this: to act justly, to love tenderly and to walk humbly  with your God.

BOOK OF PSALMS

1. Psalm 23
Response: The Lord is my shepherd
There is nothing I shall want.

The Lord is my shepherd,
There is nothing I shall want.
Fresh and green are the pastures
Where he gives me repose.
Near restful waters he leads me
To revive my drooping spirit  [R]

He guides me along the right path;
He is true to his name.
If I should walk in the valley of darkness,
No evil would I fear.
You are there with your crook and your staff;
With these you give me comfort.[R]

You have prepared a banquet for me
In the sight of my foes.
My head you have anointed with oil;
My cup is overflowing.[R]

Surely goodness and kindness shall follow me
All the days of my life.
In the Lord’s own house shall I dwell
Forever and ever.[R]

2. Psalm 129

Response:
Out of the depths I cry to you O Lord.

Out of the depths I cry to you O Lord.
Lord, hear my voice!
O let your ears be attentive
To the voice of my pleading. [R]

If you, O Lord, should mark our guilt,
Lord, who would survive?
But with you is found forgiveness;
For this we revere you [R]

My soul is waiting for the Lord,
I count on his word.
My soul is longing for the Lord,
More than watchmen for daybreak.[R]

Because with the Lord there is mercy
And fullness of redemption.
Israel indeed he will redeem
From all its iniquity.[R]

3. Psalm 33

Response:
Taste and see that the Lord is good

I will bless the Lord at all times,
His praise always on my lips;
In the lord my soul shall make its boast.
The humble shall hear and be glad.[R]

Glorify the lord with me;
Together let us praise his name.
I sought the Lord and he answered me;
From all terrors he set me free.[R]

4. Psalm 138

Response:
Lord, you have made me and you know me.

O Lord, you search me and you know me;
You know my resting and my rising;
You discern my thoughts from afar.
You mark when I walk or lie down;
All my ways lie open to you.[R]

O where can I go from your Spirit;
Or where can I fly from your face?
If I climb to the heavens you are there,
If I lie in the grave you are there.[R]

If I take the wings of the morning
And dwell at the sea’s furthest end,
Even there your hand would lead me,
Your right hand hold me fast.[R]

For it was you who created my being,
Knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I thank you for the wonder of my being,
For the wonders of all your creations.[R]

O search me, God, and know my heart.
O test me and know my thoughts.
See that I follow not the wrong path
And lead me in the path of life eternal.[R]

Look towards him and be radiant.
Taste and see that the Lord is good.
The Lord is close to the broken hearted;
Those whose spirit is crushed he will save;
Those who hide in him
Shall not be condemned.[R]

NEW TESTAMENT READINGS

1. A Reading from the first letter of St. John (1 Jn 3: 1-3)
Think of the love that the Father has shown us by letting us be called God’s children; and that is what we are. Because the world refused to  acknowledge him, therefore it does not acknowledge us. My dear people,  we are already the children of God but what we are to be in the future  has not yet been revealed; all we know is that when it is revealed, we  shall be like him because we shall see him as he really is.

2. A Reading from the letter of St. Paul to the Romans.(8: 31-35, 37-39)
With God on our side, who can be against us? Since God did not spare his only Son, but gave him up to benefit us all, we may be certain after such a gift, that he will not refuse anything he can give. Could anyone accuse those that God has chosen? When God acquits, could anyone condemn? Could Christ Jesus? No! He not only died for us- he rose from  the dead, and there at God’s right hand he stands and pleads for us.  Nothing, therefore, can come between us and the love of Christ, even if we are troubled or worried or being persecuted, or lacking food or  clothes, or being threatened or even attacked. These are the trials through which we triumph, by the power of him who loves us. For I am certain of this: neither death nor life, no angel, no prince, nothing  that exists, nothing still to come, not any power, nor height, nor depth, not any created thing, can ever come between us and the love of God made visible through Christ Jesus our Lord.

3. A Reading from the letter of St. Paul to the Thessalonians (4: 4-9)
We want you to be quite certain, sisters and brothers, about those who have died, to make sure that you do not grieve about them, like the other people who have no hope. We believe that Jesus died and rose again, and that it will be the same for those who have died in Jesus;  God will bring them with him. We can tell you this from the Lord’s own teaching that any of us who are left alive until the Lord’s coming will not have any advantage over those who have died. With thoughts such as these you should comfort one another.

4. A Reading from the first letter of St. Paul to the Corinthians (13: 4-14)
Love is patient and kind; it is not jealous or conceited or proud; love is not ill-mannered or selfish or irritable; love does not keep a record of wrongs; love is not happy with evil, but is happy with the truth. Love  never gives up; and its faith, hope and patience never fail. Love is  eternal. There are inspired messages, but they are temporary; there are gifts of speaking in strange tongues, but they will cease; there is knowledge, but it will pass. For our gifts of knowledge and of inspired  messages are only partial; but when what is perfect comes, then what is partial will disappear. When I was a child, my speech, feelings and thinking were all those of a child; now that I am an adult, I have no  more use for childish ways. What we see now is like a dim image in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. What I know now is only partial; then it will be complete as God’s knowledge of me. Meanwhile these  three remain: faith, hope and love; and the greatest of these is love.

5. A Reading from the letter of St. Paul to the Phillipians (4:4-9)
May you always be joyful in your union with the Lord. Rejoice! Show a  gentle attitude towards everyone. The Lord is coming soon. Don’t worry about anything, but in all your prayers, ask God for what you need, always asking Him with a thankful heart. And God’s peace, which is far beyond human understanding, will keep your hearts and minds safe in union with Christ Jesus. In conclusion, my sisters and brothers, fill your minds with those things that are good and that deserve praise:  things that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely and honourable. Put  into practice what you have learnt and received from me, both from my words and from my actions. And the God who gives us peace will be with you.

6. A Reading from the Acts of the Apostles (10: 34-36)
Peter addressed Cornelius and his household: “The truth I have now come to realise,” he said, “is that God does not have favourites, but that anybody of any nationality who fears God and does what is right is acceptable to him. It is true, God sent his word to the people of  Israel, and it was to them that the good news of peace was brought by Jesus Christ – but Jesus Christ is Lord of all people, and he has ordered us to proclaim this to his people and to tell them that God has  appointed him to judge everyone, alive or dead. It is to him that all the prophets bear this witness: that all who believe in Jesus will have  their sins forgiven through his name.”

7. A Reading from the first letter of St. Paul to the Corinthians (1: 4-9)
I always thank God for you because of his grace given to you in Christ Jesus. For in him you have been enriched in every way – in all your speaking and in all your knowledge, because our testimony about Christ was confirmed in you. Therefore do not lack any spiritual gift as you  eagerly await our Lord Jesus Christ to be revealed. He will keep you strong to the end, so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord  Jesus Christ – God who has called you into fellowship with his Son Jesus Christ our Lord is faithful.

8. A Reading from the Book of Revelations (21: 1-5)
Then I saw a new earth and a new sky, for the present earth and sky has  disappeared. And I, John, saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven. It was a glorious sight, beautiful as a bride at her wedding. I heard a loud shout from the throne saying, “Look, the home of God in now among men, and he will live with them, and they will be his people; yes, God himself will be among them. He will  wipe away all tears from their eyes, and there shall be no more death,  or sorrow, or crying, or pain. All of that has gone forever.” And the one sitting on the throne said, “See, I am making all things new!” And  then he said to me, “Write this down, for what I tell you is trustworthy and true.”

9. A Reading from the letter of St. Paul to the Romans (14: 7-9)
The life and death of each of us has its influence on others; if we live,  we live for the Lord; and if we die, we die for the Lord; so that alive  or dead, we belong to the Lord. This explains why Christ both died and came to life. It was so that he might be Lord both of the dead and of  the living.

GOSPEL READINGS

1. A Reading from the Holy Gospel according to Matthew (11: 25-30)
Jesus exclaimed, “I bless you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, for hiding  these things from the learned and the clever and revealing them to mere children. Yes, Father, for that is what it pleased you to do. Everything has been entrusted to me by my Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father, just as no one knows the Father except the Son and those to  whom the Son chooses to reveal Him. Come to me all you who labour and  are overburdened and I will give you rest. Shoulder my yoke and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart and you will find rest for  your souls. Yes, my yoke is easy and my burden light.”

2. A Reading from the Holy Gospel according to John (11: 17-27)
On arriving at Bethany, Jesus found that Lazarus had been in the tomb for  four days already. Bethany is only about two miles from Jerusalem, and  many Jews had come to Martha and Mary to sympathise with them over their brother. When Martha heard that Jesus had come she went to meet him.  Mary remained sitting in the house. Martha said to Jesus, “If you had been here, my brother would not have died, but I know that, even now, whatever you ask of God, he will grant you.” “Your brother,” said Jesus  to her, “will rise again.” Martha said, “I know he will rise again at the resurrection on the last day.” “I am the resurrection and the life. If anyone believes in me, even though they die, they shall live, and  whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?”  “Yes Lord,” she said, “I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of  God, the one who was to come into this world.”

3. A Reading from the Holy Gospel according to Matthew (27: 45-54)
When the sixth hour came there was darkness over the whole land until the  ninth hour. And at the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice,  “Eloi, Eloi, Lama Sabachthani?” which means, “My God, My God, why have  you deserted me?” When some of those who stood by heard this, they said, “Listen, he is calling on Elijah.” Someone ran and soaked a sponge in  vinegar and putting it on a reed, gave it to him to drink saying, “Wait and see if Elijah will come to take him down.” But Jesus gave a loud cry and breathed his last. And the veil of the Temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The centurion, who was standing in front of him, had seen how he had died and said, “In truth this man was the Son of God.”

4. A Reading from the Holy Gospel according to John (14: 1-6)
Jesus said to his disciples: “Do not let your hearts be troubled Trust in God still, and trust in me. There many rooms in my Father’s house; if there were not, I should have told you. I am going now to prepare a place for you, and after I have gone and prepared you a place, I shall return to take you with me; so that where I am you may be too. You know the way to the place I am going.” Thomas said, “Lord, we do not know where you are going, so how can we know the way?” Jesus said, “I am the Way, the  Truth and the Life. No one can come to the Father except through me.”

5. A Reading from the Holy Gospel according to John (3: 37-40)
Jesus said to the crowd: “All that the Father gives me will come to me and whoever comes to me I shall not turn away; because I have come from  heaven, not to do my own will, but to do the will of him who sent me. Now the will of him who sent me is that I shall lose nothing of all that he has given to me, and that I should raise it up on the last day. Yes, it is my Father’s will that whoever sees the Son and believes in him  shall have eternal life, and the I shall raise them up on the last day.”

6. A Reading from the Holy Gospel according to Matthew (5: 1-12)
Seeing the crowds, Jesus went up the hill. There he sat down and was joined by his disciples. Then he began to speak. This is what he taught them:
Blessed are the poor in spirit; theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed the gentle; they shall have the earth as their heritage.
Blessed those who mourn; they shall be comforted.
Blessed those who hunger and thirst for what is right; they shall be satisfied.
Blessed the merciful; they shall have mercy shown them.
Blessed the pure in heart; they shall see God.
Blessed the peacemakers; they shall be called the children of God.
Blessed those who are persecuted in the cause of right; theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are you when people abuse you and persecute you and speak all kinds of calumny against you on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward  will be great in heaven.

7. A Reading from the Holy Gospel according to Luke (24: 13-16, 28-35)
On the first day of the week, two of the disciples were on their way to a  village called Emmaus, seven miles from Jerusalem, and they were talking together about all that had happened. Now as they talked this over, Jesus himself came up and walked by their side; but something prevented  them from recognising him. When they drew near the village to which they were going, he made as if to go on; but they pressed him to stay with  them. “It is nearly evening,” they said, “and the day is nearly over.”  So he went in to stay with them. Now, while he was with them at table, he took the bread and said the blessing; then he broke it and handed it to them. And their eyes were opened and they recognised him; but he had  vanished from their sight. Then they said to each other, “Did not our hearts burn within us as he talked to us on the road and explained the scriptures to us?” They set out at that instant and returned to  Jerusalem. There they found the eleven assembled together with their  companions, who said to them: “Yes it is true. The Lord has risen and  had appeared to Simon.” Then they told their story of what had happened on the road and how they had recognised him at the breaking of the  bread.

8. A Reading from the Holy Gospel according to Matthew (25: 31-36)
Jesus said to his disciples: “When the Son of Man comes in his glory,  escorted by all the angels, then he will take his seat on his throne of glory. All the nations will be assembled before him and he will separate one from another as the shepherd separates sheep from goats. He will  place the sheep on his right hand and the goats on his left. Then the King will say to those on his right hand, “Come, you whom my Father has blessed, take for your heritage the kingdom prepared for you since the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food; I was  thirsty and you gave me drink; I was a stranger and you made me welcome; naked and you clothed me, sick and you visited me, in prison and you  came to see me.” Then the virtuous will say to him in reply, “Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you; or thirsty and give you drink? When did we see you a stranger and make you welcome, naked and clothe you; sick or in prison and go to see you?” And the king will answer, “I tell  you solemnly, in so far as you did this to one of the least of these brothers and sisters, you did it to me.”

PRAYERS OF THE FAITHFUL

Choose four or five of the following. If you wish, compose some of your own or adapt some of these.

1. Let us pray for N. In baptism he/she died with Christ, may he/she now share in the fullness of his resurrection. Lord, hear us.

2. God is full of mercy and compassion. May he forgive N. any sins he/she committed through human frailty. Lord, hear us.

3. For the sorrowing family, relatives and friends of N., that you may find strength and consolation in your Christian faith and in the love and support of this community. Lord, hear us.

4. We pray for those who mourn N’s death (especially ….); that you may find strength  and consolation in the hope we have through the resurrection of Jesus  from the dead. Lord, hear us.

5. God of all consolation, help us to comfort one another in our grief, finding light in time of darkness,  and faith in time of doubt. Lord, hear us.

6. We pray for all those we have loved and have died. Lord give them the reward of their goodness. Lord, hear us.

7. We pray for those who care for the sick and dying, especially those who cared for N. during his/her illness. Lord, hear us.

8. For all parents who grieve over the death of their children; that they  may be comforted in the knowledge that they rest in God. Lord, hear us.

9. May the prayers of Mary, the Mother of God, who stood by the cross as her son was dying, help those who mourn and be with all of us in our time of need. Lord, hear us.

10. We pray for those here today,  that our memory of N. whom we loved inspire us with a renewed love for all our sisters and brothers. Lord, hear us.

11. We pray for all  of us here today and for all members of our Church; that we may be  prepared for the hour of our death, when God will call us by name, to pass from this world to the next. Lord, hear us.

COMMUNION REFLECTIONS

1. Death is not the end.
Death is nothing at all. I have only slipped away into the next room.  Whatever we were to each other; that we still are. Call me by my old familiar name. Speak to me in the easy way which you always used. Laugh  as we always laughed at the little jokes we enjoyed together. Play, smile, think of me, pray for me. Let my name be the household word that it always was. Let it be spoken without effort. Life means all that it  ever meant. It is the same as it ever was; there is absolutely unbroken continuity. Why should I be out of your mind because I an out of your  sight I am but waiting for you, for an interval somewhere very near,  just around the corner. All is well. Nothing is past; nothing is lost.  One brief moment and all will be as it was before – only better, infinitely happier and forever – we will all be one in Christ.
Henry Scott Holland

2. Death is only an Horizon
We give them back to you, O Lord, who first gave them to us; and as you  did not lose them in the giving so we do not lose them in the return. Not as the world gives do you give O Lord. For what is yours is ours  also, if we belong to you. Life is unending because love is undying and the boundaries of this life are but an horizon and an horizon is but the limit of our vision. Lift us up, strong Son of God, that we may see  further. Strengthen our faith that we may see beyond the horizon. And while you prepare a place for us as you have promised, prepare us also for that happy place; that where you are we may be also, with those we  have loved, forever.
Bede Jarett, O.P.

3.  Stranger at our side
All through life’s day our risen Lord walks with us. Often, however, he is a stranger to us, for he never forces himself upon us. Before the day’s end, we will ask many questions, experience many failures, disappointments and heartaches. And then, suddenly, whether we are young, middle aged or old, we will find that the shadows are lengthening and night is fast approaching. In that moment we pray that, like the disciples on the road to Emmaus, our eyes will be opened and that we will recognise him – the stranger who walked at our side – as our risen Lord. And he will not vanish from our sight. Instead he will guide us through the dark valley of death to the safety of the Father’s house.

4. Builders of Eternity
Isn’t it strange that princes and kings
And clowns that caper in sawdust rings,
And ordinary folks, like you and me,
Are builders of eternity.
To each is given a bag of tools,
An hour-glass and a book of rules;
And each must build `ere time has flown,
A stumbling block or a stepping stone.

5. Peace at Last
May the Lord support us all the day long; till the shades lengthen and the evening comes, and the busy world is hushed, and the fever of life is over and our work is done. Then in his mercy, may he give us a safe lodging, a holy rest, and peace at last. Amen

6. Gone only from our sight
I am standing on the seashore. Suddenly a ship at my side spreads her  white sails to the morning breeze and starts out for the blue ocean. She is an object of beauty and strength, and I stand and watch her until at length she is only a ribbon of white cloud just above where the sea and sky mingle with each other. Then someone at my side says: “There! She’s gone!” Gone where? Gone from my sight – that is all. She is just as  large in mast and hull as she was when she left my side and just as able to bear her load of living freight to the place of destination. Her  diminished size is in me, not in her and just at the moment when someone at my side says: “There! She’s gone!” there are other voices ready to greet her with a glad shout: “There! She comes!”And that is dying.

7. Footprints
One night a man had a dream. He dreamt that he was walking along a beach with the Lord. Across the sky flashed the scenes of his life. For each scene he noticed not one, but two sets of footprints in the sand. He understood immediately that one belonged to him and the other to the Lord. But then he noticed a curious thing. At the lowest and saddest times in his life there was only one set of footprints. This bothered  him and so he asked the Lord: “How come that during the most difficult  times in my life, the very times when I most needed you, you left me on  my own?” Then the Lord replied: “My friend, during your trials and  sufferings when you see only one set of footprints, those footprints are mine. It was then that I carried you.

8. Dear Parents
I  did not die young. I lived my span of life within your body and within  your love.There are many that have lived long lives and not have been  loved as me.
If you would honour me, then speak my name and number me among your family.If you would honour me, then strive to live in love, for in that love I now live. Never ever doubt that we will meet again. Until that happy day I will grow with God and wait for you.

9. Miss me but let me go
When I come to the end of the road
And the sun has set for me
I want no rites in a gloom filled room
Why cry for a soul set free?
Miss me a little, but not too long
And not with your head bowed low
Remember the love that we once shared
Miss me but let me go.
For this is a journey we all must take
And each must go alone
It’s all a part of the master plan
A step on the road to home.
When you are lonely and sick at heart
Go to the friends we know
And bury the sorrow in doing good deeds
Miss me but let me go