Below, please find a selection of readings appropriate for funerals, as well as meditations comforting in a time of bereavement.
Thou hast made us for Thyself, O Lord,
and our hearts are restless
till they find their rest
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 annihilation;
but they are at peace.
If they experienced punishment as men see it, their hope was rich with immortality;
slight was their affliction, great will their blessings be.
God has put them to the test
and proved them to be worthy with him;
he has tested them like gold in a furnace, and accepted them as a holocaust.
When the time comes for his visitation they will shine out;
as sparks run through the stubble, so will they.
Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial,
for when he has stood the test he will receive
the crown of life, which God has promised
to those who love Him.
He abideth patiently
He forgiveth easily
He understandeth mercifully
He forgetteth utterly
No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no human heart conceived the welcome God has prepared for those who love Him.
Oh Lord, Thou gavest her to us to be our joy, and Thou hast taken her away from us. We give her back to Thee without a murmur; but our hearts are wrung with grief.
Prayer of Bede Jarrett OP
We seem to give them back to Thee, O God, who gavest them first to us. Yet as Thou didst not lose them in giving, so do we not lose them by their return. Not as the world giveth, givest Thou, O Lover of souls. What Thou givest, Thou takest not away, for what is Thine is ours also if we are Thine. And life is eternal and love is immortal, and death is only a horizon, and a horizon is nothing, save the limit of our sight. Lift us up, strong Son of God, that we may see further; cleanse our eyes that we may see more clearly; draw us closer to Thyself that we may know ourselves to be nearer to our loved ones who are with Thee. And while Thou dost prepare a place for us, prepare us also for that happy place, that where Thou are we may be also for evermore.
Attributed to Bede Jarrett OP, 1881-1934
JESUS, on Whom beneath this veil I gaze,
Grant me the gift I thirst for all my days,
That I may come Thy face unveiled to see,
And blessed vision of Thy majesty.
St. Thomas Aquinas
Tu, dux ad astra, et semita
sis meta nostris cordibus;
sis lacrimarum gaudium,
sis dulce vitae praemium.
Our guide, our way to heavenly rest,
Be Thou the aim of every breast;
Be Thou the soother of our tears,
Our sweet reward above the spheres.
Salutis Humanae – St Ambrose
Blessed is the man who lives, for all his wealth, unreproved, who has no greed for gold (and puts no trust in his store of riches)! Shew us such a man, and we will be loud in his praise; here is praise; here is a life to wonder at. A man so tested and found perfect wins eternal honour; he kept clear of sin, when sinful ways were easy, did no wrong, when wrong lay in his power. His treasure is safely preserved in the Lord’s keeping and wherever faithful men are met, his alms-deeds will be remembered.
Ecclesiasticus – Chapter 31, Verses 8-11
(The Epistle from the Mass of the feast of St Edward the Confessor, King of England, October 13th)
Death is not the extinguishing of the light, but the putting out of the lamp because the dawn has come.
Holy Sonnet X
John Donne, 1572-1631
If anything hap to me that you would be loth, pray to God for me but trouble not yourself: as I shall full heartily pray for us all, that we may meet together once in heaven where we shall make merry for ever, and never have trouble after.
I trust that we shall, once in heaven, see each other full merrily, where we shall be sure to live and love together, in joyful bliss eternally.
St. Thomas More
From The Desert, 1908
Minnie Louise Haskins, 1875-1957
St. John Chrysostom
Death is nothing at all
Death is nothing at all.
I have only slipped away to the next room.
I am I and you are you.
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.
Put no difference into your tone.
Wear no forced air of solemnity or sorrow.
Laugh as we always laughed
at the little jokes we enjoyed together.
Play, smile, think of me. Pray for me.
Let my name be ever the household word
that it always was.
Let it be spoken without effect.
Without the trace of a shadow on it.
Life means all that it ever meant.
It is the same that it ever was.
There is absolute unbroken continuity.
Why should I be out of mind
because I am out of 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 together again.
Henry Scott Holland, 1847-1918
Once, in a little pond, in the muddy water under the lily pads, there lived a little water beetle in a community of water beetles. They lived a simple comfortable life in the pond with few disturbances and interruptions. Once in a while, sadness would come to the community when one of their fellow beetles would climb the stem of a lily pad and would never be seen again. They knew when this happened; their friend was dead, gone forever.
Then, one day, one little water beetle felt an irresistible urge to climb the stem. However, he was determined that he would not leave forever. He would come back and tell his friends what he had found at the top. When he reached the top and climbed out of the water onto the surface of the lily pad, he was so tired, and the sun felt so warm, that he decided he must take a nap. As he slept, his body changed and when he woke up, he had turned into a beautiful blue-tailed dragonfly with broad wings and a slender body designed for flying.
So, fly he did! And, as he soared, he saw the beauty of a whole new world and a far superior way of life to what he had ever known existed. Then he remembered his beetle friends and how they were thinking by now he was dead. He wanted to go back and tell them, and explain to them that he was more alive now than he had ever been before. His life had been fulfilled, rather than ended. But, his new body would not go down into the water. He could not get back to tell his friends the good news. Then he understood that their time would come, when they, too, would know what he now knew. So he raised his wings and flew off into his joyous new life!
The Idylls of the King: The Passing of Arthur, 1885
[The dying King Arthur comforts Sir Bedivere]
“The old order changeth, yielding place to new,
And God fulfils himself in many ways,
Lest one good custom should corrupt the world.
Comfort thyself: what comfort is in me?
I have lived my life, and that which I have done
May He within himself make pure! but thou,
If thou shouldst never see my face again,
Pray for my soul. More things are wrought by prayer
Than this world dreams of. Wherefore, let thy voice
Rise like a fountain for me night and day.
…For so the whole round earth is every way
Bound by gold chains about the feet of God.”
Alfred, Lord Tennyson, 1809-1892
According to the multitude of my sorrows in my heart, Thy comforts have given joy to my soul.
Ps. 93. v. 19