Vatican officials have released the details of Pope Benedict XVI’s funeral Mass, scheduled to be held Thursday, January 5, at 9:30 a.m. (Rome time). The Mass will be held in St. Peter’s Square. Currently, the pope’s body lies in state in St. Peter’s Basilica until the Mass.
The Mass will consist of a combination of Latin, Spanish, German, English, and Italian parts, and Pope Francis will be the presider. According to the Mass booklet, released by the Vatican, the collect prayer will be in Latin, the first reading will be in Spanish, Psalm will be in Latin, the second reading will be in English, and the gospel will be read in Italian. The second prayer will be said in German and the remaining prayers in the Mass will be offered in Latin.
The collect prayer: “Let us pray. O God, who in your wondrous providence chose your servant Benedict to preside over your Church, grant, we pray, that, having served as the Vicar of your Son on earth, he may be welcomed by him into eternal glory. Who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, forever and ever. Amen”
The first reading (Isaiah 29:16-10): “Your perversity is as though the potter were taken to be the clay: As though what is made should say of its maker, ‘He made me not!’ Or the vessel should say of the potter, ‘He does not understand’. But a very little while, and Lebanon shall be changed into an orchard, and the orchard be regarded as a forest!’ On that day the deaf shall hear the words of a book; and out of gloom and darkness, the eyes of the blind shall see. The lowly will ever find joy in the Lord, and the poor rejoice in the Holy One of Israel.’”
Psalm 23: “The Lord is my shepherd: there is nothing I lack. In green pastures you let me graze; to safe waters you lead me; you restore my strength. You guide me along the right path for the sake of your name. Even when I walk through a dark valley, I fear no harm for you are at my side; your rod and staff give me courage. You set a table before me as my enemies watch; You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Only goodness and love will pursue me all the days of my life; I will dwell in the house of the Lord for years to come.”
The second reading (I Peter 1:3-9): “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who in his great mercy gave us a new birth to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you who by the power of God are safeguarded through faith, to a salvation that is ready to be revealed in the final time. In this you rejoice, although now for a little while you may have to suffer through various trials, so that the genuineness of your faith, more precious than gold that is perishable even though tested by fire, may prove to be for praise, glory, and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Although you have not seen him you love him; even though you do not see him now yet believe in him, you rejoice with an indescribable and glorious joy, as you attain the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.”
Gospel: The Gospel of Luke 23:39-46: “Now one of the criminals hanging there reviled Jesus, saying, ‘Are you not the Messiah? Save yourself and us.’ The other, however, rebuking him, said in reply, ‘Have you no fear of God, for you are subject to the same condemnation? And indeed, we have been condemned justly, for the sentence we received corresponds to our crimes, but this man has done nothing criminal.’ Then he said, ‘Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.’ He replied to him, ‘Amen, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.’ It was now about noon and darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon because of an eclipse of the sun. Then the veil of the temple was torn down the middle. Jesus cried out in a loud voice, ‘Father, into your hands I commend my spirit;’ and when he had said this he breathed his last.”
It is fitting that the Gospel highlights St. Dismas on the cross acknowledging he was a sinner and asking for the forgiveness of Christ. The Gospel also points us to the moment Jesus breathed His last breath and gave up His spirit to the Father. We know the last words Pope Benedict XVI spoke before departing this life were “Jesus, I love you.” It is certainly appropriate for the Gospel reading at his funeral Mass to point us to the moment that Jesus died. Pope Benedict XVI pointed others to Christ through sharing the Gospel. It is only proper that his death point others to the heart of the Gospel.
Pope Benedict XVI knew we were not perfect on our own and encouraged repentance of our sins. He also worked to show us that we are to live a life focused on holiness.
Pope Benedict XVI, pray for us.