Readings For the Vigil

Collected here are a variety of readings from different religious traditions. Each reflects on God's presence in death and dying. Some will speak to your unique understanding of God, others will not. Use whatever is meaningful to you, knowing that we all reach out to God in our own way. The readings affirm our common struggle with death and our need for God's comfort and assurance.

Realistically, your vigil may leave you with little time and limited emotional strength to focus. Don't expect too much of yourself. Take your time and be gentle with yourself. Ways to use the readings might include:

Silent meditation
Silent meditation is not as scary as it might sound. Simply “Be still and know that I am God.” Psalm 46:10. Your silent time can last a minute or an hour. If you have trouble focusing, try repeating a breath prayer such as “God be with me.” Abbot Pastor said, “Any trial whatever that comes to you can be conquered by silence.” Try to find a moment of silence where you might experience God's peace.

Time with God and a friend
While keeping watch, consider calling on a spiritual companion/soul friend/prayer partner - someone to walk with you and help you see where God is active in your midst. This might be your minister, rabbi or priest. It can also be a close friend who you feel will listen to you in your seeking. A spiritual companion is not someone who will answer your questions; rather he can help you consider questions that might open new doors in your quest to find a deeper relationship with God. Your companions can pray for you when you feel too weak and sorrowful to pray yourself. Theresa of Avila (1515-1582) said, “People will tell you that you do not need friends on this journey, that God is enough. But to be with God's friends is a good way to keep close to God in this life. You will always draw great benefit from them.” Share the readings with a friend and discuss them together or simply sit together in silence.

Readings for your loved one
Read a selection to your loved one that you find particularly meaningful. Offer them as words of comfort or as an opening to talk with your loved one.

Reflections for journalizing
Some readings might unlock an image that you would like to explore further. Put your reflections down on paper.

Opening to prayer
Some of the readings are prayers. Others might be an opening to prayer. Prayer is simply communicating with or talking to God. Prayer can be private, or you can ask a friend to pray with you. Always remember to listen during prayer.

Free association and imagination
Let your mind relax and float where it might go. Listen to how God might speak to you as images freely emerge from your unconscious. Imagine yourself in God's arms surrounded by warmth and an overwhelming presence of love. Simply rest with God for a little while. You may find clarity in what seems to be aimless wandering.