A Burial Service for Adults.


(This service is adapted from a small book of rituals that a priest would have used in 1930. It is no longer the official rite, and so it can be adapted for use by anyone if no priest is present. Directions are in red.)

At the house, or in procession from the house, say Psalm 130 (Ps. 129 in old Catholic Bibles). You may sprinkle the deceased with holy water.

Psalm 129
OUT of the depths have I cried unto you O Lord: Lord. hear my voice.
Let your ears be attentive to the voice of my supplication.
If you O Lord wilt mark iniquities Lord who shall stand it?
For with you there is merciful forgiveness: and by reason of your law have I waited for you O Lord.
My soul has relied on his word:
my soul has hoped in the Lord.
From the morning watch even until night: let Israel hope in the Lord.
Because with the Lord there is mercy: and with him plenteous redemption.
And he shall redeem Israel from all his iniquities.
Eternal rest grant unto him [her], O Lord.
And let perpetual light shine upon him [her].
The priest would also say Psalm 51 [in the newer bibles, 50 in the older ones] while he and the deceased go to the place of the funeral.


At the beginning of the service it would be appropriate to sing a hymn.
The following prayers would be said by the priest at the funeral liturgy at the church. They could be said where ever the burial service is held, or at the grave.


COME to his [her] assistance, All you Saints of God! meet him
[her], you Angels of the Lord. Receive his [her] soul, and present it to the Most High.
V. May Christ who called you, receive you;
and may the Angels lead you into the bosom of Abraham.
R. Eternal rest grant to him [ her] , O Lord,
and let perpetual light shine upon him [her]. (The V followed by R mean verse and response. The priest reads the verse and the people respond; however it may be more convenient for the priest or lay minister to recite both the verse and response.)


Liturgy of the Word
If a priest were present, a funeral mass would be celebrated. Here it would be most appropriate to read from the Word of God sections from the bible that speak to resurrection. Traditionally, the readings would consist of one Old Testament reading, a Psalm such as Ps. 23, a reading from an epistle and finally a Gospel. For example, read Isaiah 61:1-3a next a Psalm such as Ps. 6, Ps. 34, Ps. 143 [if you don't have an antiphon perhaps two people or a small group could alternate reading verses] then a New Testament reading such as 1 Cor. 15:1-4 or 1 John 3:1-2 or Rev 21:1-7. Finally read a Gospel: Matt. 5:1-12a, John 6:35-40, John 14:1-6. John 14:23-27, John 15:7-17, John 17:6-26 or 24-26. You could instead read one of the resurrection narratives as the Gospel. (The number and length of the readings can vary according to the circumstances, although a selection from the gospel would be a minimum. Perhaps there could also be a suitable non-scriptural text as well.) (The New American version of the Bible is online.)


If a priest or deacon were present he would give a homily, but if there is no one qualified to explain the readings you could have a period of silent reflection or, if the group is small, a brief discussion and people could share what the readings "said" or "meant" to them. After this family and friends could also share information or stories about the life of the deceased. Instead the lay minister could read the following.


O God, the Creator and Redeemer of all the faithful, hear our supplications and through your infinite love and mercy graciously grant to the soul of your servant who has died the forgiveness of all his [her] sins. Grant him [her] grace and mercy before your tribunal, and let him [her] attain to everlasting rest and happiness through the infinite merits and love of Jesus Christ.
O God, great and all knowing, all powerful judge of the living and the dead, before whom we are all to appear after this short life, to render an account of all we have thought, said, and done, let our hearts be deeply moved at this sight of death, and let us be mindful of our own frailty and mortality. Let us always walk in your wisdom and in obedience to your commandments with your help so that when we ourselves depart this world we may experience a merciful judgment and rejoice in everlasting happiness. Father we ask you this through Jesus Christ, our brother and Lord. Amen.


(After a pause, for a transition perhaps a hymn could be sung, or all could share the Lord's Prayer together. Then continue, saying:)

ENTER not into judgment with your servant, O Lord; for in your sight shall no [person is] justified, unless you pardon all his sins. Let not, therefore, we beseech you, the hand of your justice be heavy upon him [her] whom the earnest prayer of Christian faith commends to you, but by the help of your grace may he [ she] escape the just judgment and punishment which he [she] may deserve. We ask this of you Father in the name of your Son who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit in the world without end.
R. Amen.


Deliver me, O Lord, from everlasting death on that dread day when the heavens and the earth shall be moved, and you shall come to judge the world by fire.

I am seized with fear and trembling at the thought of judgment and the wrath to come. When the heavens and the earth shall be moved.

That day is a day of wrath, of wasting and of misery, a dreadful day and exceeding bitter, when you shall come to judge the world by fire.


Eternal rest grant unto him [her], O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him [her]
Deliver me, O Lord, from everlasting death on that dread day when the heavens and the earth shall be moved, and you shall come to judge the world by fire.
Lord, have mercy on us.
Christ, have mercy on us.
Lord, have mercy on us.


Our Father (inaudibly).


During the Our Father the Priest sprinkles the deceased with Holy Water, after which he may incense it. He then says:


V. And lead us not into temptation

R. But deliver us from evil.

V. From the gate of hell.

R. Deliver his [ her] soul, O Lord!

V. May he [she] rest in peace.

R. Amen.

V. O Lord, hear my prayer.

R. And let my cry come unto you.

V. The Lord be with you.

R. And with your spirit.


Let us pray.

O GOD! to whom it belongs always to show mercy and to spare, we humbly beseech you for the soul of your servant N., whom you have called out of this world, that you deliver him [ her] not into the hands of the enemy, nor forget him [her] forever; but command that he [ she] be received by your holy Angels and taken to Paradise his [ her] true country, and that as he [ she] has believed and hoped in you, he [ she] may not suffer the pains of hell, but have joy everlasting: Through Christ our Lord. R. Amen.

If the grave is in a different location, at the end of these prayers, as you leave, to sing a hymn would be appropriate.

In going to the grave, the Priest says:


MAY the Angels lead you into Paradise; may the Martyrs receive you at your coming, and take you to Jerusalem the holy city. May the choirs of the Angels receive you, and may you, with the once poor Lazarus, have rest everlasting.

If the grave is not blessed, the priest blesses it as follows:


Let us pray.


O GOD, through whose mercy the souls of the faithful find rest, be pleased to bless this grave. Send your holy Angel to keep it; and loose from the bonds of sin the souls of those whose bodies here lie buried, that they may ever rejoice in you with your Saints. Through Christ our Lord.

R. Amen.


The Priest then sprinkles the deceased and grave with holy water, and may incense them, after which the body is let down. He then says:

Antiphon: I am the Resurrection and the Life.


Canticle of Zachary Luke 1:68-79

"Blessed be the Lord God of Israel,
for he has looked favorably on his people and redeemed them.
He has raised up a mighty savior for us
in the house of his servant David,
as he spoke through the mouth of his holy prophets from of old,
that we would be saved from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us.
Thus he has shown the mercy promised to our ancestors,
and has remembered his holy covenant,
the oath that he swore to our ancestor Abraham,
to grant us
that we, being rescued from the hands of our enemies,
might serve him without fear,
in holiness and righteousness
before him all our days.
And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High;
for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways,
to give knowledge of salvation to his people
by the forgiveness of their sins.
By the tender mercy of our God,
the dawn from on high will break upon us,
to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death,
to guide our feet into the way of peace." NRSV.


Eternal rest grant unto him [her], O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him [her]
Ant. I am the Resurrection and the Life; he who believes in me, although he be dead, shall live; and every one who lives and believes in me shall not die forever.
Lord, have mercy on us.
Christ, have mercy on us.
Lord, have mercy on us.
Our Father (This could be done inaudibly or by all the people present together. Invite them by saying Let us join together in prayer using the words our Lord taught.). The priest may sprinkle some holy water.
V. From the gate of hell
R. Deliver his [Her] soul, O Lord!
V. May he [she] rest in peace.
R. Amen.
V. O Lord, hear my prayer.
R. And let my cry come unto you.
V. The Lord be with you,
R. And with your spirit.
Let us pray.
Grant, O Lord, this mercy to they servant departed, that he [she] who desired to do your will, may not receive the punishment of his [her] misdeeds; and that as true faith has joined him [her] to the company of the faithful here below, may your mercy make him [her] the companion of the holy Angels in heaven. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.
A priest would make the sign of the cross over the bier, but a lay person might hold out his right hand over it as a sign of blessing while saying:
V. Eternal rest grant unto him [her], O Lord!
R. And let perpetual light shine upon him [her].
V. May he [she] rest in peace.
R. Amen.
V. May the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.
R. Amen.
[The minister may also pray for those who are present at the grave with him.
Grant O Lord that while we grieve the departure of our brother [sister] from this life may we remember that we are to follow him [her]. Give us grace to make ready for that time by a devout and holy life. Protect us from a sudden and unprovided death. Teach us how to watch and pray so when the call comes we may be ready to meet the Bridegroom and go with him into life everlasting.
Let us pray.
Almighty and most merciful Father, who knows the weakness of our nature, listen to your servants, on whom you lay the burden of sorrow. Take from their hearts any spirit of rebellion, and teach them to see your good and gracious purpose working in all the trials and difficulties which you allow to occur. Grant that they may not languish in grief, or sorrow as people with no hope, but grant them your grace so they will put themselves in your hands, trusting you, the God of all consolation. We ask this too Father in Christ our Lord. Amen.
The lay minister would make the sign of the cross on himself. (I find it useful to tell the people: Our service is ended. Let us go in peace.)

The Priest's New Ritual, John Murphy Company (1930) pp. 157-83. Imprimatur Nov, 1, 1926 by +Michael J. Curley, Archbishop of Baltimore. Copyright 1927.
This text is used for educational and religious purposes only. No other use is intended or permitted. The text has been edited to make it more readable and some text in the instructions has been added.