Mass to Commemorate and Celebrate the Life of Pope Saint John Paul II

About this article

This Mass script was produced to commemorate and celebrate the life of Saint John Paul II.

In light of the Pope's passing, this Mass script offers an order of service with prayers, music suggestions, intercessions, and other materials that will make planning a meaningful celebration as simple as possible when time is limited. This Mass can work completely on its own, with the provided script. However, communities are encouraged to adapt this to their own needs. Music suggestions are provided for the various parts of the Mass. The goal is to provide a spectrum of music that is most widely known from different publishers to make the Mass as participatory as possible. New music might seem out of place and more for entertainment than for participatory prayer. Hopefully, communities using any of the major liturgical music resources will find music they know well. This Mass is designed to be sensitive to cultural and style variations with texts appropriate to the celebration and music that is easily done with groups with varying musical abilities.


Entrance Song (choose one)

"Shall We Gather at the River" (Gather Comprehensive, GIA Publications, 1994, no.774)
"Litany of the Saints" (Gather Comprehensive, GIA Publications, 1994, nos. 795 or 796)
"Be Not Afraid" (Gather Comprehensive, GIA Publications, 1994, no. 608)
"The King of Love My Shepherd Is" (Gather Comprehensive, GIA Publications, 1994, no. 635)
"How Firm a Foundation" (Gather Comprehensive, GIA Publications, 1994, no. 606)

Sign of the Cross/Greeting

Presider: [sign of the cross]

The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.

All respond: And also with you.

Invitation to Prayer

My brothers and sisters,
we have come together to renew our trust in Christ
who, by dying on the cross, has freed us from eternal death
and, by rising, has opened for us the gates of heaven.
Let us pray for our John Paul, our Pope,
that he may share in Christ's victory,
and let us pray for ourselves,
that the Lord may grant us
the gift of loving consolation.
[Allow ample time for silence.]

Collection and Opening Prayer

God of all consolation,
open our hearts to your word,
so that, listening to it, we may comfort one another,
finding light in time of darkness
and faith in time of doubt.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God forever and ever.

All respond: Amen.


First Reading: Daniel 12:1-3

Lector: A reading from the book of the prophet Daniel.

I, Daniel, mourned and I heard this word of the Lord:

At that time Michael, the great prince, the protector of your people, shall arise. There shall be a time of anguish, such as has never occurred since nations first came into existence. But at that time your people shall be delivered, everyone who is found written in the book. Many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt. Those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the sky, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever.

The Word of the Lord,
All respond: Thanks be to God.

Responsorial Psalm (Three psalms are suggested. Use a setting of one of these psalms your community knows well, preferably by heart.)
Psalm 23 "The Lord is My Shepherd" (Gather Comprehensive, GIA Publications, 1994, no. 32)
Psalm 25 "To You, O Lord, I Lift My Soul" (Gather Comprehensive, GIA Publications, 1994, no. 36)
Psalm 27 "The Lord Is My Light and My Salvation" (Today's Missal Music Issue, Oregon Catholic Press, 2000, p. 738)

Second Reading: Revelation 21:1-7

Lector: A reading from the book of Revelation.

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying,
"See, the home of God is among mortals.
He will dwell with them;
they will be his peoples,
and God himself will be with them;
he will wipe every tear from their eyes.
Death will be no more;
mourning and crying and pain will be no more,
for the first things have passed away."
And the one who was seated on the throne said, "See, I am making all things new. . . . I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give water as a gift from the spring of the water of life. Those who conquer will inherit these things, and I will be their God and they will be my children."

The Word of the Lord.
All respond: Thanks be to God.

Gospel Acclamation (selected from the common repertoire of the community)

Gospel: John 17:24-26

Presider: A reading from the holy Gospel according to John.
All respond: Glory to You, O Lord.

Presider: [Jesus] looked up to heaven and said:

"Father, I desire that those also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory, which you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world.

"Righteous Father, the world also does not know you, but I know you; and these know that you sent me. I made your name known to them, and I will make it known, so that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them."

This is the Gospel of the Lord.
Praise to You, Lord Jesus Christ.

The Gospel passage from John offers an excellent departure point for a homily that can honor the faithful service of Saint John Paul II, a servant who answered God's call to love in a profound way. "My disciples are your gift to me," exclaims Jesus to his father. A homily that explores the true discipleship of Saint John Paul II and his call for all Catholics to become serving and loving disciples would be an appropriate tribute to his life. How can we honor the Pope's life through our own living? Where is God calling us? How can we see this through the Pope's life and his own calls to the Catholic community of the world? The following quotations from Saint John Paul II can help in this regard. They focus on a call to greater discipleship and service. May this Mass be a celebration of the Pope's life and a symbol of his entering into the reign of God with all the angels and saints.

"Be in this world bearers of Christian faith and hope by living love every day. Be faithful witnesses of the Risen Christ, never turn back before the obstacles that present themselves on the paths of your lives. I am counting on you. On your youthful energy and your dedication."

"Dear young people, proclaiming the Word of God is not the responsibility of priests or religious alone, but it is yours too. You must have the courage to speak about Christ in your families and in places where you study, work or recreate. . . . These are places and circumstances where you alone can bring the seed of God's Word."

"Jesus is living next to you, in the brothers and sisters with whom you share your daily existence."

"But--I ask of you--is it better to be resigned to a life without ideals . . . or rather, . . . to seek the truth, goodness, justice, working for a world that reflects the beauty of God, even at the cost of facing the trials it may involve?"

General Intercessions

(Consider a sung response to the intercessions for this occasion to elevate the importance of these prayers.)

God who knows the hunger of our hearts and the thirst of our souls, we humbly place our prayers before you.

Lector: For peace throughout the world, for an end to hatred and division among peoples and nations, we pray.
All: Lord, hear our prayer.
Lector: For all who preach the Gospel and minister to the people of God, especially our Bishop___. and Pastor ___., we pray.
All: Lord, hear our prayer.
Lector: For leaders of nations, for all who lead and protect the people of the earth, we pray.
All: Lord, hear our prayer.
Lector: For all who seek justice, for freedom and for peace, and speak out for the least among us, we pray.
All: Lord, hear our prayer.
Lector: For all those who suffer in body, in mind, or in spirit, especially (names of individual community members), we pray.
All: Lord, hear our prayer.
Lector: For all who have died and who are now one with God, especially John Paul, our Pope, faithful servant and shepherd of your Church on earth, we pray.
All: Lord, hear our prayer.
Presider: Christ, who suffered and died so that we might live, hear the prayers we have laid before you. Give us what we need and lead us to faithfulness and peace, to serve as you served, to love as you love. We ask this and every prayer, spoken and unspoken through Jesus Christ, who is Lord forever and ever. Amen.

Preparation of the Gifts
(Music note: If a collection is taken, this would be an appropriate time for a solo or choral piece related to the Scriptures. If not, a short instrumental piece would be appropriate.)

Prayer Over the Gifts
Presider: Pray, my brothers and sisters, that this sacrifice may be acceptable to God, the almighty Father.

All respond: May the Lord accept this sacrifice at our hands, for our good, and for the good of all the Church.

Pray, brethen. . .
in your love receive this sacrifice of peace your people
We entrust your servant [John Paul] to your mercy
with faith and confidence.
In the human family he was an instrument of
your peace and love.
May he rejoice in those gifts forever with your saints.
We ask this through Christ our Lord.

All respond: Amen.

(Sacramentary, p. 968)


Father, all powerful and ever-living God,
we do well always and everywhere to give you thanks
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

He chose to die
that he might free all men from dying.
He gave his life
that we might love you alone for ever.

In our joy we sing to your glory
with all the choirs of angels:

(Sacramentary, p. 529)

Holy Holy (chosen from the common repertoire of the community)

Eucharistic Prayer II

Memorial Acclamation (chosen from the common repertoire of the community)

Great Amen (chosen from the common repertoire of the community)

The Lord's Prayer

The Sign of Peace

Lamb of God

Communion Song
"I Am the Bread of Life" (Today's Missal Music Issue, Oregon Catholic Press, 2000, p. 321)
"Without Seeing You" (Gather Comprehensive, GIA Publications, 1994, no. 844)
"Taste and See" (Today's Missal Music Issue, Oregon Catholic Press, 2000, p. 361)
"Song of the Body of Christ" (Today's Missal Music Issue, Oregon Catholic Press, 2000, p. 334)
"Eat This Bread" (Today's Missal Music Issue, Oregon Catholic Press, 2000, p. 320)

Prayer After Communion
Presider: Let us pray. [Allow ample silence.]

O God,
from whom the just receive an unfailing reward,
grant that your servant, John Paul, our Pope,
whom you have made vicar of Peter and shepherd of your Church,
may rejoice forever in the vision of your glory,
for he was a faithful steward here on earth
of the mysteries of your forgiveness and grace.
We ask this through Christ our Lord.

Closing Song
"I Know that My Redeemer Lives" (Gather Comprehensive, GIA Publications, 1994, no. 854)
"Precious Lord, Take My Hand" (Today's Missal Music Issue, Oregon Catholic Press, 2000, p. 676)
"Steal Away to Jesus" (Gather Comprehensive, GIA Publications, 1994, no. 733)
"Jesus, Remember Me" (Gather Comprehensive, GIA Publications, 1994, no. 404)
"Amazing Grace" (Today's Missal Music Issue, Oregon Catholic Press, 2000, p. 455)

Tony Alonso is the director of music at Saint Nicholas parish in Evanston, Illinois. He is also a liturgical composer with GIA Publications.



The scriptural quotations contained herein are from the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible, Catholic Edition. Copyright © 1993 and 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. All rights reserved.

The quotations from Pope John Paul II are reprinted by permission of L'Osservatore Romano.

The "Prayer Over the Gifts" section and the preface for the "Liturgy of the Eucharist" section are prepared by the International Commission on English in the Liturgy (New York: Catholic Book Publishing Co., 1985), pages 968 and 529. Illustrations and arrangement copyright © 1985-1974 by Catholic Book Publishing Co., New York. Used by permission.

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