In all the Catholic celebrations (dominical masses, baptism and marriage celebrations), Prayers of the Faithful, or Universal Prayers, are said. Whilst all Prayers for the Faithful follow the same structure, the prayer intentions announced for funerals are specific. If the service is done before burial, it is called a Mass of Christian Burial or just a Funeral service (without mass) and if it is celebrated after burial, it is called a Memorial Service (with or without a mass) in memory of the person. The texts and prayers are chosen by close relations of the deceased. Here is a guide on how to prepare the Prayers for the Faithful, along with samples of intentions which can be helpful.
The structure of the Prayer of the Faithful is always the same, no matter the type of celebration; it consists of a succession of prayers and sung response. We can thus draw inspiration from the general tips about Universal Prayer. In the context of funerals, the intention’s content differ. Usually, there are 3 to 4 intentions.
Each intention usually ends by “We pray to the Lord” “Lord, hear our prayers” or “Lord, have mercy”..
First of all, let us not forget to ask the Holy Spirit for his help in this delicate task. It is hard yet so important to say “Goodbye” to a beloved person.
You’ll have to pick liturgical texts that will be read during the ceremony. It is good to carefully read them before writing the prayers and not to refrain using the words and images found in those texts, so that the Word of God, loving and consoling, echo even more within each and everyone of us.
There are a lot of examples we can draw inspiration from (you’ll find some of them at the end of this article), particularly when we are in situations where it can be really hard to find a way to pray; loss of a child, sudden accident, long-term illness…
The Prayers of the Faithful are said right after the reading of the Gospel and the homely. It can be read by one or more readers, each reading a different prayer. As in any ceremony, it is better to choose the reader beforehand (as well as those reading the first reading and the psalms), to give them enough time to prepare. It is even more important in the context of funerals, as emotions can be overwhelming when reading those prayers. Another person can stay close to the reader to substitute him if necessary.
The Prayers of the Faithful are different from the Prayers for the Dead, which can be said at the end of the ceremony.
“Sure of your love and and strong in our faith, Lord, we pray to you.”
“Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayers.”
Below are a few examples of intentions which can help us in the following contexts: loss of a child or of a teenager, unexpected death, or violent death following a long-term illness.
“May N...’s life, made of strong relationships, friendship, work and services, find in You its accomplishment. Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.”
“Lord, you know N...’s heart, the joys and sorrows which have shaped him, the battles he has lead, the love he has given. Welcome him in your kingdom and offer him the eternal joy. Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.”
“For N..., who has been taken from us too soon; may his death not be vain; instead, open in our hearts new sources of love. May him help us become better people. Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.”
“For us all here gathered, may our faith be stronger than our pain and may our regret not be hopeless. Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.”
“Lord, we pray to you for the family and friends of N…. Send them your spirit of consolation to overcome this trial and grow within them the hope of being all reunited in your love one day. Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.”
“Let us pray for his family, children, grandchildren. May the affection that binds them and the friendship that surrounds them help them bear this trial. Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.”
“God, today we feel sorrow because of this loss, but also indignation, doubt, anger in the face of an event that we do not understand. Lord, we need you to keep our heart open, loving and confident. Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.”
“May God receive our prayers for all those who suffer from long-term illnesses and for all those who take care of someone who is sick: may they find patience, courage and strength. Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.”
“Let us pray for those who suffer and who are close to despair. Assist them, Lord, so that they know you will never give up on them. Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.”
“Let us entrust to God all those who - in hospitals or retirement homes - are serving the weakest and the sick. May they find the strength to accomplish their beautiful vocation with love and patience. Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.”
“For N...’s relatives and parents; for all his friends who are feeling sorrow today; for all the parents who, in our church or somewhere else, have lost a child; for the teenagers who must sometimes carry heavy burdens, may we find a way to bring them love while respecting who they are, and to comfort those who are exhausted. Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.”
“Lord, we pray to you so that the Church reveals to the world that Christ is the savior of the living and of the dead. Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.”
“For those who believe in the Resurrection and for those who seek the truth, Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.”
“Christ saved us and defeated the death; may the Gospel inhabit each Christians, and make them strong enough to testify, notably in places where suffering and injustice reign. Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.”
Ask the Blessed Virgin Mary to accompany our departed loved ones, gone to Heaven to meet her Son, by taking part in the “Heaven Pilgrimages” with the community: 17 days of prayers for our beloved departed with our Lady of Montligeon.
With the community, let us pray for souls in purgatory and devote our prayers to those who have left this earth, those who, maybe, have noone left down there to pray for them and who are waiting to contemplate the glory of God.