The Roman Catholic liturgy provides comfort and courage for family and friends mourning the death of a loved one. They often find that planning and participating in the funeral ceremony provides deeper consolation and strength for them. When we celebrate death in the Church, it is customary to celebrate a Mass of Christian Burial. The following readings from the Sacred Scriptures are those suggested by the church for the Mass of Christian burial.
Please note that a Catholic lay person in good standing may read the First (Old Testament) or Second (New Testament) reading. The Holy Gospel is proclaimed only by a Priest or Deacon.
During the Easter Season two New Testament Readings are to be used, instead of one Old Testament and one New Testament reading. In lieu of the Old Testament reading, a reading from the Acts of the Apostles is to be chosen; the second reading can be one of the New Testament sections provided.
From time to time we are asked if a non-Catholic or a non-Christian may serve as a scripture reader or present the General Intercessions at a Funeral Mass. The “Directory for the Application of Principles and Norms on Ecumenism,” issued by the Pontifical Commission for Promoting Christian Unity on June 8, 1993 answers this question. Paragraph 133 of the Directory states “during a Eucharistic celebration in the Catholic Church” the readings are to be proclaimed by a Catholic. The Directory goes on, however, to allow that “on exceptional occasions and for a just cause, the Bishop of the diocese may permit a member of another church or ecclesial community to take on the task of reader.”