May a person choose the readings for his/her own funeral?

Not trying to be morbid here. But I wondered if one.may licitly pick out readings (from Sacred Scripture, of course) for their own funeral?

I have always loved the passage in Canticle of Canticles that goes, “Arise, my love, my dove, and come! For see, the winter is over, the rain is past…”. But I’ve never seen that reading in any Catholic funeral liturgy. Is there a funeral equivalent to the “Together for Life” booklet that is used for couples planning a wedding? To me, a funeral seems to have a certain similarity to a wedding, celebrating the soul’s ultimate union (it is hoped) with the Lord.

If it is indeed permitted, how would one leave instructions?

Yes, it is acceptable and proper. You would set it up with the pastor at your territorial parish which would be contacted upon your death. Don’t put it in your will, because the will is read well after the death and by that time it is too late. My pastor gives out copies of “From Death Into Life”, a booklet which excerpts the Rite of Christian Funerals and explains all the options for a liturgy, and there are many of them.

Correct me if I am wrong, but I believe that any Scripture readings may be used for a funeral Mass, provided it can be approved by the presider. Your parish may have special regulations governing the celebration of funerals, so a meeting with your pastor is in order, and he will help you set everything up.

As long as those readings are among those permitted by the Funeral Rite, yes. You might want to get in touch with your parish and find out what planning process they have; they might already have a document that lays out the readings that might be selected.

If it is indeed permitted, how would one leave instructions?

By telling those who will plan your funeral – your family, or the funeral director whom you’ve chosen – what your choices are.

Certainly it is. You can leave instructions in a will, or with a loved one, I’m sure. I’ve already picked Lamentations 3: 19-32 as one potential reading. :wink:

Yes, it is an acceptable practice. You can leave these requests with a loved one or with the Church when prearranging for a funeral.

You can make a suggestion, but ultimately the choice of readings belongs to the priest who will preside at the funeral. It will still be his choice, no matter what kind of documents you might leave.

The readings must be from the list of approved readings for a funeral.
I don’t have an online source, but someone else might.

As far as “how” to do this, there’s no single answer. The best way is to leave such instructions with whatever “important papers” you have in some safe place–just make sure that they are papers that will be viewed immediately upon your death. As others have said, a will is not the right place because it won’t be opened until it’s too late. If you have made any kind of pre-arrangements with a funeral home, that’s probably the best location–that is, unless your own parish keeps files like this. Pre-planning forms at funeral homes will usually already have a place for you to list your preferences for readings.

The person who will plan my funeral is currently in formation for the priesthood. I certainly hope to see his ordination. So I figure I’ll be in good hands when the time comes. :slight_smile:

The priest certainly has the final say on the readings.

While many priests and parishes have lists of readings, there is no generally required list. That is, the Church itself does not have a required list from which you must chose. That being said, there are many good reasons why a priest or parish may have lists from which they allow you to choose: it gives you some guidance and assistance to choosing appropriate pre-approved readings; it gives you a way to participate in planning; it makes things simpler for the priest in getting his homily together; it makes sure the message is coherent; etc., etc. Most parishes have easily accessible guidance on their websites.

If you want something different, I would suggest speaking with the priest. He may well be willing to accommodate you. On the other hand, he may not - again the choice is his. I think I have never known a priest not to be approachable about this matter, but like any human being he could have a bad day - or, if you are planning way ahead, he may put you off as he prefers to deal with more pressing matters. :slight_smile:

Pre-planning at the funeral home can be a good idea. I personally think speaking with family, friends and your own priest is the best - especially if disease or other conditions indicate the time is approaching. If you simply are getting things in order and there is not an expected need any time soon, it is a bit “iffyier.” Funeral homes can be forgotten about or close; you might move; priests retire, die, or move; you might change your mind,… The best thing in this case is to make sure your family knows now - what you want and where you keep instructions. Talk with them on a regular basis (but not to the point of them tuning you out!)

Personally, I’ve always liked the profundity and beauty of the beginning of the Gospel of John, and thought it would make a great basis for a funeral sermon. Yet, it is not specifically about death so it never seems to make the cut on any lists.

I did find an online list of the approved readings.

It’s in a PDF document from the Archdiocese of Boston (no reason, it was just the first one to popup when I did a search).

The list of approved readings can be found in the appendix. They print the full texts, except for the Psalms (first line only).

The list is the same for every diocese in the United States.

I notice that you’re in Denver. I did look for something from the Denver Archdiocese, but they don’t provide that resource online. It doesn’t matter though, the Lectionary is the same for Denver as it is for Boston.

That selection from the Canticle is not in the list, so it cannot be used.

Thank you, Father. I’ve been thinking about my own funeral planning (with the death of loved ones lately); this is very helpful.

To the OP: Many parishes will help you plan your funeral. I think it’s a good idea. My husband and I plan to get in touch with our parish about that as well.

Thank you, Father. I’ve been thinking about my own funeral planning (with the death of loved ones lately); this is very helpful.

To the OP: Many parishes will help you plan your funeral. I think it’s a good idea. My husband and I plan to get in touch with our parish about that as well.

  1. In the arranging and choosing of the variable parts of the Mass for the Dead, especially the Funeral Mass (for example, orations,** readings**, and the Universal Prayer),** pastoral considerations bearing upon the deceased, the family, and those attending should be kept in mind.**

Moreover, pastors should take into special account those who are present at a liturgical celebration or who hear the Gospel on the occasion of the funeral and who may be non-Catholics or Catholics who never or hardly ever participate in the Eucharist or who seem even to have lost the faith. For Priests are ministers of Christ’s Gospel for all.

particularly Code of Canon Law, cc. 1176-1185; Rituale Romanum, Ordo Exsequiarum, editio typica, 1969. (emphasis added)

As you can see the USCCB and Canons allow some leeway in funerals for choosing readings for pastoral reasons. Of course, Bishops may regulate the Mass within the scope of their authority within their own diocese. Also, in the sections prior to the quoted language above, a greater restriction is applied - which is omitted in the section on funerals. What you need to do is check with your own pastor about local norms and what, if any, pastoral considerations may impact the choice of readings.

The Lectionary must still be used. This is not an option. It is required.

The readings for a funeral must be chosen from those in the approved list.

Apparently not all priests agree with you…see, e.g.,

The official selections from the Order of Christian Funerals have been augmented by some additional selections which I believe to be appropriate under special circumstances.


Suggested Readings: The following link will show you some suggested readings or the Liturgy. [Suggested Readings from which to choose] If you have other sacred scripture passages from the New American Bible you wish to offer, discuss them with Father. In most cases, other scripture readings than those suggested herein may be used. No secular readings (Poems, short stories, etc.) are permitted at funeral liturgies.

It doesn’t matter what you found on the internet.

The Lectionary is what it is.

People can find whatever they want on the internet. It won’t change how things work in the Catholic Church.

Well, I got two parishes: one in Rhode Island and one in Chicago that disagree with you. I can certainly look up others.

Why should someone on this forum think you are right and they are wrong? Why do you think you are right and they are wrong?

Common sense and an appropriate deference to those in a position of authority tells me the OP needs to speak with her own pastor - not rely on a forum.

BTW the website in Chicago lists 4 Dominicans and the one in Rhode Island lists one priest…5-1 in this unscientific poll says there is leeway. :smiley:

I just don’t understand why you so often seem to want to say “no” - and then refuse to even consider that you might be off. I strongly suspect you are rather young, a bit full of yourself in all the things you have learned, and really want to help. But, I really don’t think you’ve got it figured out yet. I’ll pray for you; you do seem sincere. But, you need to read the law, etc., in a way to embrace the people of God…not break, bend or disregard it (I’ve seen plenty of that!), but not make it a needless barrier either.

Pax te cum.

I don’t think planning your funeral is morbid at all. Making arrangements beforehand lift the burden of loved ones trying to figure out what you would have preferred or, looking at it another way, trying to choose readings, music and flowers for the “perfect” funeral for you. I think it is an act of charity.

You may not have noticed, but Fr. David is a priest in good standing, so his opinion carries at least as much weight as those at the other parishes you mentioned.

That being said, I promise you that I can scour the Internet and find two (Roman Catholic in good standing) parishes that agree that kneeling is unnecessary, two parishes that agree that Nancy Pelosi can receive Communion, and two parishes that agree that liturgical dancing is a good idea. That doesn’t provide any proof that the Church condones or approves it, does it now?

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