Let’s have a location check. OCF Part I covers the primary rites: prayers at death, vigil and related rites, funeral liturgy, and committal. Part II concludes with OCF 342–the last post in this series that covered rites and adaptations for funerals of children and infants.
343. Part III, “Texts of Sacred Scripture,” contains the Scriptural readings and psalms for the celebrations of the funeral. It is divided into four sections: “Funerals for Adults”, “Funerals for Baptized Children”, “Funerals for Children Who Died before Baptism”, “Antiphons and Psalms”.
344. As a general rule, all corresponding texts from sacred Scripture to the funeral rites are interchangeable. In consultation with the family and close friends, the minister chooses the texts that most closely reflect the particular circumstances and the needs of the mourners.
I could list all the several dozen options for funeral readings, but I don’t know that that would be particularly productive. OCF 345 and 346 note that during the Easter season, New Testament readings from Acts and Revelation are used instead of Old Testament passages. Occasionally, that can be a difficult and surprising piece not readily noticed by pastoral ministers, or even most clergy.
I remember a switch of pastors in one parish several years ago, and my funeral planner came to me with a complaint about the new priest’s urging that the Easter pattern be followed. “Is this correct?” she asked me. It is, I said, and I explained that the funeral liturgies align as much as they can, with the liturgical year. They knew, for example, that one doesn’t sing “alleluia” at a Lenten funeral.
I’ve also worked with clergy who fielded a request that both readings be Old Testament, or that a psalm be a reading, or even that two Gospel readings be proclaimed. There are many sensitive ways to approach these challenges, all without alienating mourners or offering up a violation of the Liturgy of the Word.
As for the comment boxes, feel free to share a meaningful (for you) reading from Scripture. Share also, if you wish, why.