A POLL provoked by your email! What color of vestments for your funeral?

There is a truly bizarre story coming to me in email about a rumor that His Excellency Most Reverend Robert C. Morlino, Bishop of Madison, is now requiring priests to use either violet or black vestments for funerals rather than white.

I wish!  Wouldn’t that be great?

“But Father! But Father!”, some of you are bound to be asking, “What’s up? Is this true?  I will move to Madison right away!”

Alas, no, it isn’t true.

Let’s get to the bottom of this so people can stop the sale of their houses.

First, as you know, with the Novus Ordo, three colors are possible options: white, violet/purple, or black.

I got in touch with a dependable source who was at the funeral in question and who heard and saw everything.

What happened is that Bp. Morlino used purple for a recent funeral of a priest.  That means there were some priests there…. no doubt some of a certain age and proclivity.

At the end of the funeral, Morlino explained why he used purple.  He also said that he, personally, was going to use purple or black at funerals when opportune.  He explained that funerals are for prayer for the deceased. White, on the other hand, is the color of those clothed in glory in heaven.  It is not charity to neglect prayer for the dead.  He added that, if he makes it to Purgatory when he dies, he will need prayers.

I will add on my own that the more somber tone set by violet or black underscores our obligation to pray for the deceased.  It seems to me that, from charity toward the deceased, black (or at least violet) would be the better choice.

My guess is that this all got started because some narrow-minded balloon-toting aging-hippie priest-gossip at the funeral, who thinks that everyone goes automatically to heaven, had a case of the vapors at the sight of the purple and tattled on Morlino in an attempt to cause him another irritation.

A bishop told me once, “There are old women of both sexes!”

In short, at this recent funeral, Morlino did not say anything about the legitimate options of others.

(Sadly), there isn’t any diocesan instruction for priests in the Diocese of Madison to use black or purple.

Anyway, you can check out Bp. Morlino’s thoughts about funerals and eulogies (there was a dust up about that, once upon a time) in one of his pastoral letters.  HERE.  I wrote about it HERE.

You can now stop asking me about this in email.  Pretty please?

To distract you from writing me email, let’s have a poll!  Actually, this is a repeat question but we are due for it again. The readership has grown and there are many new people visiting.

Give your answer and then add your reasons in the combox, below.

Latin Church assumed, which color vestments would you prefer for your funeral/Requiem?

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About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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87 Responses to A POLL provoked by your email! What color of vestments for your funeral?

  1. Ben Yanke says:

    I thought it was to good to be true…

  2. jrpascucci says:

    Red.

  3. Tim Ferguson says:

    Wear the black, do the red.

  4. Mike says:

    I remember way back in 1989 a nun told me, as she was, apparently, suffering the vaoprs, that a priest of Opus Dei offered a funeral Mass in black vestments.

    Heavens!

  5. Imrahil says:

    I shrink back from your expertise, dear @Fr. Z, but…

    you can actually have white?

    I never thought that either you could or that this was any more widespread than for a small minority of some who, not self-estimating enough to allow others to grieve them, want to have what they call a Resurrection mass.

  6. dcheney says:

    In the notes for my funeral Mass, I request Black Vestments and provide for them to be purchased if needed.

  7. discerningguy says:

    How tragically depressing that it came not to be.

  8. majuscule says:

    I would love black…or the thought of it. I don’t know where I’ll be to see it!

    But, I know we don’t have black vestments at our church. So I chose purple. Ever the realist.

  9. Robertus Pittsburghensis says:

    The Missale Romanum specifies violet or black. The Ordo Missae Celebrandae gives a preference to violet but grudgingly allows black. Neither allow white. As I understand it, white is a local option in the US (and other places?), but it is an option so widely used that many consider it mandatory.

  10. Ana says:

    I want black vestments at my funeral;however, my father was baptized on his death bed so I felt white was appropriate for him.

  11. Indulgentiam says:

    I voted for black and for the same reason that His Excellency gave. If i make it to Purgatory i sure do want the prayers. And about your remark: “A bishop told me once, “There are old women of both sexes!” i say, Hey! i resemble that remark ;)

  12. TZ says:

    I wanted to vote in the poll but found I could not. (As for the color, I want whatever will get my soul more prayers. ;-)

  13. APX says:

    Oddly enough, I recently had a nightmare about this. Rather than have a Requiem Mass at my parish here, my mother insisted on having my funeral at home in our Cathedral, with our inappropriate priest wearing white vestments cracking bad jokes during his homily and going on and on about how I was in heaven.

    I have only ever seen white vestments used at funerals, never purple. I have heard about purple vestments being used by our priest at a funeral, but that was because the family requested everyone wear purple as a means of celebrating the person’s life.

    I voted for black, but given my current Debbie-Downer mode I’m in, I checked the Canadian GIRM on this, and black vestments may be used…where it is the practice, so I don’t see black vestments at my funeral unless I get a requiem Mass. I am young though, so things may change.

  14. When my dad passed away last February, the vestment battle was the only significant one I lost. It was the familiar off-white coronation set, the one with the matching pall. Besides, their purple one was inferior, and I hate breaking up a set. Other than that …

    http://manwithblackhat.blogspot.com/2012/03/random-thoughts-on-requiem.html

  15. mschu528 says:

    Doesn’t the 1962MR allow for white in the case of baptized children who die before the age of reason?

    Other than that, I see no reason not to use black. It is not a time for a pagan-esque “celebration of life”; it’s a time for fervent prayer. I always find it quite odd when a priest wears the same vestments at a funeral Mass for a poor soul that is facing the Particular Judgement (and very likely undergoing some painful purgation — if he made it) as he would to celebrate the feast of a Confessor or Holy Virgin.

  16. Father G says:

    I wear black vestments when I celebrate funeral Masses; therefore, I request black vestments for my funeral Mass. I am even specifying it in my funeral arrangements. (They can even use the same black vestments I’m using.)

  17. yatzer says:

    I voted purple because I would like for people to get the message to pray for me without shocking them too much.

  18. Philangelus says:

    I don’t know that I’ve ever seen a priest use black vestments. Now I want to.

  19. Devin says:

    Purple, it is a color of penance but not too shocking. I doubt there are still an black vestments in my diocese.

  20. lilye says:

    I have only seen white at funeral Masses and I have attended too many over the 10+years I have been in the Church. I did not know black or purple was an option in the Novus Ordo but I would definitely prefer black vestments that would hopefully encourage people to pray for my soul. I have always found it distressing that is so often assumed that the deceased is in heaven if they have been a “good person”, suffered, or was young (but still above the age of reason).

  21. Gail F says:

    Black!!! RENT them if you have to. I cant’ stand the “celebration of life” style funerals, especially those that go on and on about people being in Heaven already. I hope that people are sorry when I die, but if not, they should use the opportunity to think about their own deaths, or at least of those of people close to them, and the sorrow that it is that we all die, and the hope that we have of new life. HOPE, not certainty of instant canonization. Hmm, maybe I will start a black vestment rental business! Two or three sizes, and the fee covering delivery and cleaning. Hmmmmmmm.

  22. david s says:

    Some years ago a dear friend died and requested black or violet vestments. The priest chose instead to wear white, and spent a good portion of his homily talking about how wrong her request was. At least he let us sing some of the Requiem chants.

  23. petrus69 says:

    Fortunately I go to a SSPX church and will have black vestments, black pall, and I wish unbleached candles. My casket will lie in state over night at my church and the Rosary will be said the night before the funeral and a High Requiem Mass will be said and if we have enough priests present, a Solemn High Requiem Mass.

  24. Lori Pieper says:

    I voted for “purple/violet” at the most appropriate because it’s the color of vestments in Lent and reminds us of Our Lord’s passion — the only reason we have any hope at all for the dead.

    I find that black to the modern mind (especially to my non-Catholic friends who will hopefully come) calls to mind skeletons, graves and horror-movie freak shows, the antithesis of Christian hope. It does have its origins, I believe, in the medieval memento mori, somewhat like the picture of the vestments Fr. Z so helpfully supplied, and it is salutary in a way, and the Church isn’t responsible for the modern connotation, but still . . .

    If I could, I would like to limit the use of white vestments to the beautiful Mass of the Angels for the newly baptized infants and children. I experienced it when I was ten, in 1966, when my little brother Stephen died, just six weeks old and fortunately newly baptized. It’s impossible to describe how inexpressibly comforting those beautiful vestments and that lovely Mass with its celebratory atmosphere was to me and my brothers, for, as Fr. told us, Stephen was now a saint and “playing with the angels in heaven.” For the rest of us, to be honest, much more fervent but still hopeful prayer for our souls is appropriate.

    I almost said “other” so I could pick green, to symbolize hope, but violet is probably better for my soul and as someone else said, will get me more prayers!

  25. Black, black, and only black

  26. Solemn High Requiem Mass in the Dominican Rite, black vestments (if this is permitted in the DR). I have a particular priest I want to preach a fire-and-brimstone homily about the Four Last Things.

  27. St. Epaphras says:

    Black; Four Last Things; NO eulogy!!!!! Prayers for the dead!! In reality, I hope to *have* a funeral Mass as the family may or may not be willing to do this when the time comes (but I have made my wishes known already).

  28. Mary Jane says:

    Black, TLM Requiem (sung). I have heard that white vestments are used for children who die very young…before they reach the age of reason…

  29. Springkeeper says:

    Black and I would even embroider the vestment pictured for my funeral if I knew my priest would wear it. I have no hope, barring a quick martyrdom, of going straight to heaven so I know I’ll need all the prayers I can get (although I will be so thrilled to have avoided hell I might not even notice their presence or lack thereof).

  30. Centristian says:

    Green…to symbolize the salad days of my eternity.

  31. Nora says:

    Not only do I want black, but I made a veil and burse to match Father’s chasuble and stole, so that he could do mine up right.

  32. AnnAsher says:

    I voted black. I want black for the same reasons Bp Morlino cited. I think purple is a profoundly beautiful symbol for the Requiem of Priests. I think white may be good for children. But I think generally this white vestment use is from the Celebration of Life crowd. It is a tragedy in my opinion, the celebration of life setting both deprives the soul of prayer and deprives the mourners freedom to grieve. I will need prayers. Death is serious business. I want black, but I wont haunt my family its not possible.

  33. FrJLP says:

    Black!

    For those of you looking for the citation on funeral vestments, here it is (since we always want to go to the original sources):

    “Besides violet, white or black vestments may be worn at funeral services and at other Offices and Masses for the Dead in the Dioceses of the United States of America.”
    —General Instruction of the Roman Missal, 346e

    I have purchased a purple fiddleback (saved it, really, from destruction) for me to be vested in for burial. My funeral instructions filed with my diocese and my priest-executor specify that black vestments are to be worn for my funeral Mass. I own a set that can be used for that purpose, if need be. This is my set; made by Luzar Vestments in the UK for me: http://www.luzarvestments.co.uk/newlmsgl005_pages/GL005%20Bb.jpg

    My first parish assignment was at a very large and active southern parish. Certain people in the pastoral team would balk at such things at purple and black vestments for funerals if I did it on my own. So, minding the Lord’s admonition to be as “clever as serpents and gentle as doves”, I came up with a plan. Since the bereaved help choose the music and Mass propers and readings for the Requiem Mass, a brother-priest and I came up with a sheet that explained each of the three possible liturgical colors vis-a-vis a Requiem Mass and let the family choose which color they wanted. 60% chose black, 20% chose purple, and 20% chose white. Not bad! And whenever I celebrated a votive Requiem Mass or All Souls, I always wore black. Incidentally, by the time of my next assignment, my pastor was wearing purple for such things!

    Below, I will share the texts that I gave to the bereaved to help them choose:

    ? Violet Violet vesture immediately conjures images of Advent and Lent, our liturgical seasons of penitence. Using violet vestments for the funeral liturgies reminds us that “all have sinned and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). Through the funeral rites, and most especially through the Sacrifice of the Mass, we ask God to forgive our loved ones of any sins they have committed in this life and to grant them the grace of eternal life in heaven. And, just as the season of Advent ends in the nativity of the Lord and the season of Lent ends in His death and resurrection, we trust that God’s mercy and our prayers will lend to the salvation of our loved one.

    ? White White vesture reminds us of great festivities and especially the joyous celebrations of Christmas and Easter. When used in the funeral liturgies, this color highlights our hope in the resurrection of the dead and the promise of eternal life; it reminds us that “the souls of the just are in the hands of God” (Wisdom 3:1). When we use this color, however, we must be mindful that we are not canonizing our loved ones; and though we are focusing on the hope of resurrection, there still remains the need of asking God to forgive their sins and to admit them into the blessedness of eternal life.

    ? Black Black is the traditional color for funeral vesture in the Latin Rite. This color symbolizes our mourning and sorrow, that death has taken from us one who is dear and beloved. It symbolizes a very profound reality about our Christian prayer: in our sorrow, we are not alone. The priest stands in the person of Christ when he celebrates the funeral, and thus in a certain sense represents the whole Church. And we know that when we worship God, we are not alone; our prayers are united together with all other Christians throughout the world. Therefore, when the priest wears black vestments he symbolizes the Church who “weeps with those who weep” (c.f. Romans 12:15): the Church is present in all the significant events of our lives, both joyful (weddings, baptisms, etc.) and sad (funerals, visits to the sick, etc.). With black vesture we see that Holy Mother Church joins us in our sorrow at the loss of our loved one and consoles us with her beautiful funeral rites. Black also reminds us, like violet, of the need to pray for our loved ones, asking God to free them from sin and admit them into His Kingdom of light. This color additionally reflects our own mortality: each of us must encounter death and be spiritually prepared for its inevitable arrival, as “it is appointed unto man once to die, and then the judgment” (Hebrews 9:27). In conclusion, most black vestments are lightly adorned with more festive colors like gold or silver, symbolizing that though death be sorrowful and dark, Christ has conquered death and has given us the bright hope of eternal life.

  34. AnnAsher says:

    Those of you who have never seen black vestments: their use on Good Friday and All Souls is quite remarkable and profoundly moving.

  35. AnnAsher says:

    Those of you who have never seen black vestments: their use on Good Friday and All Souls is quite remarkable and profoundly moving.

  36. Geoffrey says:

    I voted Purple/Violet because I am realistic. If I were to kick-off tomorrow, I highly doubt that my parish has any black vestments in the sacristy (other than the ones behind glass in the mission museum). I could also foresee an argument ensuing if I requested black. Violet vestments should not be that difficult.

  37. Jason Keener says:

    I chose black because I definitely want people to be reminded of the serious nature of death and our solemn duty to pray for the dead. I also think people tend to forget about the terrible and awesome judgment seat of Christ that we will all have to face at the moment of death and on the Last Day when Christ comes in glory. Black reminds us of that serious judgment. Lastly, I wish the “Dies Irae” would become a regular part of funerals celebrated in the Ordinary Form. We would all do well to meditate often on its sobering message, especially in an era where many fall into the sin of presumption thinking that all people will be saved.

  38. nola catholic says:

    I had heard from a priest friend years ago that red was an option as well, so long as the person being buried was martyred for the faith. Is this still true today? I know that red vestments are an option for the feasts days of martyrs, but when Fr. Z mentioned that white, violet, and black were the only options, I remembered hearing that red was an option for funerals of martyrs. Has anyone else heard this, and is it true?

    As regards the poll, I chose black.

  39. bookworm says:

    I would go with violet because it is the penitential color used during Lent and Advent, so just about any parish priest is bound to have a set in that color, whereas you can’t always count on them having black vestments.
    As I have noted before on this blog, our local bishop and a parish priest used violet vestments at the funeral of a prominent local figure (who had taken his own life) and cited the penitential symbolism of violet as the reason for doing so.

  40. I also voted “black” for the same reason the Bishop gave. Fortunately my Pastor has black vestments. Hope he doesn’t have to use them for me for a while though.

  41. alanphipps says:

    Black! Including black, horse-drawn hearse, of course.

  42. Pavegs says:

    Black. And in order to prevent any confusion I will also request that my funeral be in the extraordinary form. Since, God willing, I will be a priest When I die, I will be sure to set aside a fine set of black vestments (that I will have have been using for Requiem Masses) for whoever celebrates my Requiem Mass. I want people to actually pray for my rotten soul when I die. I know I’ll need it.

  43. Pingback: Archbishop Di Noia SSPX Bishop Bernard Fellay Greg Burke | Big Pulpit

  44. Mary G says:

    I voted purple as purple or violet are the penitential colors. Just today, I attended a funeral and Father wore the purple vestments.

  45. Jack Hughes says:

    If the Priest who says my Requium does NOT use Black Vestments I am going to ask permission to haunt his sacristy :)

  46. Marcus der mit dem C says:

    I want black vestments, a sermon about the need of souls to pray for them and the Dies Irae sung or I may get out of the coffin for a rant!

  47. mpolo says:

    For some nuns, I came to the compromise of doing the burial in violet, and then afterwards we had the funeral Mass, which they insisted be in white. (They had the tradition of this order of things because their house is a little off the beaten track, so they didn’t want guests to have to make their way to their house first for Mass, then go down to the cemetery, and then come back for the “Leichenschmaus”. Instead, everyone gathered at the cemetary, and after the burial, we had Mass in their chapel with the reception immediately afterwards.

  48. TC says:

    Hmm…
    You can order caskets from the Trappists, I wonder if there’s an order one can order chasubles from. Perhaps I’ll ask for one embroidered with a scene from Dante’s Purgatorio (we Irish don’t do subtle).

  49. jflare says:

    Well, I voted black, but it’s a ticklish question:
    - I’m a sinner and expect I’ll likely need plenty of prayers to kick me into heaven, so black is appropriate, I think. On the other hand…
    - Black seems so darn NEGATIVE. It’s almost like something nasty has happened. So I leaned toward purple, which at least seems less harsh. Unfortunately.,.
    - Purple also seems to me a color we reserve not only for the purposes of penance–I hadn’t thought of that before reading the comments–but ALSO one that we reserve for royalty. So…

    Beings I’m most definitely NOT royalty, but I don’t want someone to think they should celebrate my life any more the fact that I’m dead…

    I voted black as a reminder to anyone who cares that even if my earthly struggle has ended, I may still need some further prayer intentions.
    As well, black may be a reminder to them that they’d best keep their act together, lest THEY wind up in hell.

    Maybe I should suggest green instead, on grounds of my being an ordinary schmuck–and the fact that I’m 3/4 Irish–AND will be under the green grass??

    No, I think I’ll stick with black.

  50. Bea says:

    I chose Black.
    It is a somber time. I would hope people would be somber enough to turn their minds and hearts to prayer for my wretched soul.
    Purple IMHO should be for the purpose of penance during the lifetime of the dead penitent. (Lent etc)
    White is for rejoicing. While some may possibly be rejoicing that I’m gone, I wouldn’t want to encourage that. White also is for the innocent (which I am not, wouldst that I were) .

  51. Faith says:

    I chose “other” because I don’t care. I’ll be dead; those not, will be too distraught at my leaving them, that they won’t notice.

  52. Volanges says:

    “He explained that funerals are for prayer for the deceased.”

    What?? That can’t be right! You mean funerals aren’t to ‘celebrate the life of the deceased’? Not to put up a screen in the sanctuary and project pictures of the deceased? Not to set up a tent in the sanctuary and set the urn containing the deceased’s ashes on a bench in front of the tent because he was an avid hunter/camper? Not to play his/her favourite country song? Really? Oh, my, how do I tell our parishioners?

  53. Joan M says:

    I voted for black, although I do not know if that is realistic – there may not be black vestments available in our one and only diocese. Failing the availability of black, I will be content with purple. Most funeral Masses here in Trinidad are “celebrations of the life of ” with white vestments.

    Also, the casket is usually open until just before the priest receives it (I find that quite ghoulish! I have absolutely no desire to have people peering at my corpse on their way into the church).

    Another horrific “tradition” here is to have a PowerPoint presentation playing on and on showing pictures of the deceased in hundreds of family photos….. None of that for me!!

    I have a lot of writing to do to instruct those planning my funeral!!

  54. Imrahil says:

    Black. Not so much for implicating the Particular Judgment – in my view black does not so much implicate it, except for the loose connection that it is both modern not to use black and modern not to think of the Particular Judgment. In point of liturgical fact, violet, the color of Advent, Lent and the Sacrament of Penance, implicates the Particular Judgment much more than black does.

    But the place for reminding of the Particular Judgment would be the Dies irae. (Which of course must be included, and actually is quite hopeful, contrary to what some say.) The simple case for black is that it is, first, the tradition. Not that this tradition would have died; all people other than the celebrant do come in black to the funeral, or don’t they? Second, that this tradition can be supposed to be saying something. Which in this case could be that we are actually grieving our deceased brother-in-Christ,; that death is and remains a painful thing; and that a funeral is a serious thing.

    And also, yes, that we may also celebrate a bit of the deceased brother’s life; I don’t mind a eulogy so much as long as it is really a (truthful) eulogy and fits well within a sermon (e. g. at the place where “the vocation of the Christian in everyday life” is mentioned). A preacher around here with reputation of severity once preached that if you look well enough, you do find things to praise. And remember we still have the Dies irae, and a rosary on the eve of the funeral (as is also a tradition); there is no need at all, on the contrary it would be indecent to present the deceased brother-in-Christ as totally wrotten.

    What however has no place at all – and what, I guess, some primarily think of when disliking eulogies – is a curriculum vitae. Born in 19xx, married, had this or that profession, built a house there-and-there, etc. etc.: No one needs to be told that!

    However, what is legitimate in “celebration of life” is not in the form of a celebration after the manner of celebrations. A funeral is no birthday party; a funeral is a serious event; a funeral, in so far as this very little aspect of what a funeral also is is concerned, is not after the manner “we thank you for your life” as Lois Lowry in The Giver would have it, but more after the manner “It was once: I had a comrade, no one’s better on your side! Oh the drum, when it for battle rolled, then he marched just by my side, when called, in the same pace and stride: in the same pace and stride. A bullet flew towards us, is it mine o-or is it thine? It was him that it did tear away, and then dying at my feet he lay, as if a part o-of mine: as if a part o-of mine”, as Ludwig Uhland would have it in his well-known poem. In my view also a metaphor for civil life.

    Not that after the dead body is under the earth, there is no room for a little beer or two, and a good roast meat. That is also a tradition, probably with the meaning that life goes on.

  55. Thomas in MD says:

    I want rainbow vestments so all the participants celebrating my wonderful life will feel included. Oh, and Communion for everybody!

    Just kidding. Black. And some Mozart would rock!

  56. Pooky1961 says:

    Our 25 year old son was killed in car accident 21 months ago today. He was on his way home after being godfather at a Baptism of friend’s baby boy. Justin was a holy and gentle soul and we spoke on many topics. He loved the Church and the Latin Mass. He always said that he wanted black vestments at his funeral. We were blessed that our priest honored our request for black vestments without a moments hesitation. A dear friend had beautiful black material and made a black pall his casket. So many commented how beautiful the Mass was, how they were touched by the black, the solemnity and elegance of the black. Your blog was one of Justin’s favorites Father Z, thank you for writing and teaching so many wonderful lessons.

  57. Addendum to my statement above:

    The only just cause to wear white paraments at a Requiem or funeral would be in my humble opinion, if the deceased is a child below the age of reason, so it had no First Confession and no First Holy Communion.

    @Pooky1961:
    My prayers to your family and for your son

  58. Kat says:

    People should still move to Madison right away…

  59. dominic1955 says:

    Absolutely black, in the context of a Solemn High Requiem to boot. I even have the solemn set in my closet waiting for the day. Momento mori…

  60. irishgirl says:

    I voted for black, since I attend a TLM chapel exclusively.
    I don’t want a ‘celebration’ of my wretched earthly life; I want prayers to be said for me, otherwise I might be ‘frizzling in Purgatory’, to quote St. Bernadette of Lourdes.
    I’ve been to two traditional Requiem Masses in the last four years, and I could see the contrast between the quietness and sobriety of them, compared with the ‘instant canonizations’ that often take place in the NO funeral Mass.
    Regarding violet vestments: I’ve seen video of Robert Kennedy’s funeral Mass in 1968 at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York (via the British Pathe website). That Mass still had the six candles surrounding the coffin, and all the clergy who were at the Mass (Cardinal Cooke included) wore the violet vestments. They were seen better outside the cathedral after the Mass, when the coffin was carried out.
    And if anyone in my family DARES to try and do a eulogy, I will rise up out of my coffin and haunt them the rest of their days!
    Bravo to Bishop Morlino for his stand!

  61. Springkeeper says:

    @FrJLP

    Love the vestment to which you linked; absolutely gorgeous!

  62. Fr. Frank says:

    I remember the change from black to white coming when I was in my early to mid – teens. Our parish went overnight from black vestments and unbleached candles to white vestments, casket piled high with flowers, and guitars strumming away. I remember clear as day the pastor telling us we had made all these changes because “This is the way The Early Church Did Things.”

    Now that I think about it, every single kooky thing that was introduced into our parish, including ladies dancing up and down the aisle in leotards, was because “This is how The Early Church Did Things.”

    Did anyone else hear that kind of clap-trap?

    (BTW, I have requested a Requiem in black. The only innovation that would please me would be for the bishop, immediately following the Absolution of the Dead, to make the symbolic gesture of ramming the foot of his crozier through a tambourine.)

    Fr. Z's Gold Star Award

  63. Black vestments were used at the last two OF funeral Masses I attended, in a parish that accedes to expressed family wishes in this regard (though black is not so often requested). However, it was jarring that the casket was covered not with black but with a white funeral pall–apparently on the grounds that a black pall is allegedly not permitted in the OF.

  64. Father K says:

    Nola Catholic

    Red is used for the funeral of the Pope and he wears red if he celebrates a funeral Mass. Pope Benedict XVI’s custom seems to be he arrives in red cope after the funeral Mass, say of a Cardinal in St Peter’s Basilica, and I think he preaches a homily and probably says the prayers of commendation.

    There is a dramatic video on You Tube of Pope Paul VI being carried into [I think] St John Lateran’s Basilica on the sedia gestatoria, resplendent in red cope, to preach at the funeral of murdered Aldo Moro, an old friend of his and former prime minister of Italy. He was murdered by the Red Brigade. [!] It was only a few months before his own death, August 6th, 1978.

  65. Charlotte Allen says:

    I not only want black vestments; I want that fabulous black vestment in the photo! Where can it be rented?

  66. akp1 says:

    I’ve never seen white vestments used at a funeral. Been to many where the deceased has been beatified though! But by a purple/violet vested priest. I’ve never seen black vestments either. But I live in a solely NO Country. There must be some hidden in a cupboard somewhere in the Cathedral!
    I have already noted that I would like a proper funeral and Requiem Mass, not a celebration of life, and not instant beatification or I could be stuck in Purgatory for a long time!

  67. acardnal says:

    Fr. Frank, I, too, have heard or read that phrase often – especially to justify all the absurd innovations in the NO/OF Mass, e.g. pottery chalices, Mass in homes, etc.

  68. HyacinthClare says:

    Irishgirl, LOL! I like the idea of our haunting our relatives… mine are all protestant, so it may very well be called for.

  69. Black vestments at my requiem, please, for all the reasons Fr. Z usually states.

    Also, I most certainly do hope the priest wears a chasuble with a skull and crossbones on back, just like the one pictured above. Awesome! “Intrrroibo ad altarrre Dei.” Yes!

  70. Gus Barbarigo says:

    @Pooky1961:
    My prayers also go out to you, your family, and your son.

  71. Will D. says:

    Black, for the usual reasons. When planning my father’s funeral, I told my pastor that dad had been very traditionally minded and would have requested black if he could. With the choice of mostly chant for the propers and Fr. wearing black vestments, I think we got as close to a requiem as we could in the OF.

  72. Ben Yanke says:

    For all those people above who said they don’t have black vestments at their parish, check out CatholicLiturgicals.com

    They make both styles of vestments, and all their sets (both gothic and roman) come with maniple, veil, and burse.

    We bought some of these for a priest friend, and they look great, and despite the price, they don’t have a cheap feel either.

    They make dignified roman or gothic sets, and also make solemn Mass sets.

  73. Gail F says:

    jflare wrote: “Black seems so darn NEGATIVE. It’s almost like something nasty has happened.”

    Well, we are talking about being dead. I’d say that was pretty negative.

  74. david andrew says:

    He added that, if he makes it to Purgatory when he dies, he will need prayers.

    If he makes it. When a bishop speaks of his own soul in this way, it makes me really think twice about how I’m preparing mine. And, it makes you wonder how a priest can tell grieving family members with a straight face during a funeral that their beloved deceased is “happy in heaven now.”

    Yes, I would like black at my funeral. And in charity lots of prayers and Masses offered for the welfare of my soul and in aid of my journey.

  75. CatholicCaliGirl says:

    Oh, that funeral chasuble(sp?) in the picture is so meta…! I hope the priest wears that one at my funeral! :D

  76. Our holy pastor began wearing black vestments and the flack from the pews was toxic.
    Some people even cited this (black vestments) as a reason to leave our parish go across town where the priest wears white at funeral Masses.
    Father kept wearing black at funerals, kept preaching on confession (and sitting in the confessional nearly 10 hours every week) and ‘saying the black’ and ‘doing the red’ despite the ongoing and continual attacks he suffered.

    One family (who left the parish but returned to have a funeral Mass said there) asked the other priest (from across town) to preside at the funeral Mass at our parish rather than having our black-wearing pastor say the Mass.

    May our holy and courageous priest(s) be blessed forever!

    Please pray for Fr., he has discerned a call to monastic life and will enter the Benedictine Monastery in a few days to further his discernment.
    We await our new pastor (priest administrator) and I can’t help but wonder… what color will hear wear at funerals?

  77. lh says:

    I voted black but the bishop here does not permit it. I’m praying he changes or we get a really good bishop.

  78. lh says:

    It is permissible to have vestments at the ready? I could make black vestments for the priest to wear at my funeral and the pall as well.

  79. SonofMonica says:

    Does anyone know of a place to find example of funeral instructions for a traditionally-minded Catholic to incorporate in or alongside his Last Will and Testament?

  80. Black, with a black maniple. Can’t forget the maniple! I can’t say enough how I loathe white vestments for funerals. At one time ( in the mid 70s) in my rural Minnesota diocese, these “white” funeral Masses were called a “Mass of Resurrection”. I’ve seen it printed. Thank God those heady days are over!

  81. Marie S. says:

    I voted violet, since while we are supposed to mourn our loss, we are not to do so as one who has no hope. To my (still newly Catholic) eyes, black is the color of loss of hope, while violet is the color both of penance (Lent), and of hope in the resurrection (Advent). After reading the comments and some on-line sources, it seems black is the norm for Masses for the dead, so I guess I need to rethink.

  82. PaterAugustinus says:

    I think I’m beginning to get it; for (modern) Roman Catholics, the funeral mass is the only mass they will attend for the soul of the deceased. So, they want it to be black, since this is the one shot of reminding people of the sobriety needed.

    If one is going to attend multiple Masses for the deceased, as we Orthodox do, then one is free to retain the traditional white for the funeral with the body – which reflects our Christian hope that the deceased shall indeed be clothed in a shining alb and translated into a place of light and repose – while then using the traditional black (or dark colour) for the remaining Masses for the dead (i.e., 3rd, 7th, trental and anniversary Masses, plus any votive Masses done). The *traditional* colour for the first Mass, with the body present, is white. It is not an innovation; it is not some silly hippy-dippy neopietism; it is an ancient and long-standing custom. Though black was in use even for the first mass for some time before Vatican II, there were places even during Trent, that were using white for the first mass. Orthodox use white or gold, Eastern Rite, and white in the few Western Rite communities. This does not reflect a belief that the deceased is canonized; it reflects the nature of Christian hope and our belief that the faithful will, through the mercy of God and our continued prayers, attain to the Resurrection unto glory. It’s also why we try to bury the faithful with their albs and baptismal candles. The other Masses, in dark colours, express our being joined to those sorrowing in Hades (we Orthodox don’t have “Purgatory,” per se, but believe all go to Hades, whence the faithful can be delivered into Paradise), and our own mindfulness of the coming night of the grave, into which all of us shall fall… unless the Lord come and incinerate everything in His splendour, first.

  83. Michelle F says:

    I chose black because I think the use of white for funeral Masses in the West is symptomatic of our (particularly Americans’) desire to sanitize death. We fear it, so we want to pretend that everything is “OK,” and using vestments reserved for “happy time” reinforces the belief that everything is “OK” – so-and-so is “in Heaven now.”

    I’ve attended several Catholic funeral Masses, and in most cases I never heard a word from the priest (or anyone else) that the deceased might be in Purgatory. The only exception was at the last funeral Mass I attended (May 2011). The priest who offered it is from Nigeria, and he started his sermon by informing everyone in the congregation that someday we too would be “here,” and he pointed at the coffin when he said it. Needless to say he had everyone’s rapt attention! Then he went on to say some people do their Purgatory on Earth through their suffering, and others do it after they die. Either way, Purgatory is in our future. It was one of the best, most effective sermons I’ve ever heard! Unfortunately he wore white vestments, but his sermon almost made up for the color. I think that if he had been wearing black vestments, everyone would have been running to the Confessional, Catholic or not!

    So, yes to black vestments. We need to take death much more seriously. After all, isn’t that the whole point of the Church, to motivate and equip us for The End?

  84. deliberatejoy says:

    I voted purple earlier today. Then, I went to our local EF Latin Mass this evening on an impulse, and it was an unexpected (for me) solemn Requiem Mass. No music, stunningly somber, and yes, the priest wore black vestments. It was the first time I’d ever seen the particular color in action, and the emotional and spiritual impact was enormous.

    Never let it be said that I can’t take a hint. :) I hereby change my vote.

  85. Kathleen10 says:

    Mr. Phipps, I would love horses too! But I just know something would spook those horses and I see myself careening…..no…..no horses…..
    I chose black. I agree with the comment that it is not only appropriate, but what an impact. I especially think nuns in long black habit is really moving. But priests in it, yes, amazing.
    When my Mom passed last year, I set up the funeral according to what I could learn at that time. It was very “traditional” and my family complained it was “depressing”. I put on her Memorial cards: Please pray for the soul of ____ and put the Hail Mary and also the prayer “Oh gentlest heart of Jesus, even present in the Blessed Sacrament….”. I attached the medal she always wore, the Miraculous Medal” to her cards. I asked Father to not give her a eulogy (those she deserved one) and asked my family to give her one at the wake, which I did not attend. (I just couldn’t) I asked Father to pray the traditional prayers for the dead, and ask for prayers for her soul, which he did. My mother received Extreme Unction three months or so before she passed. That gave me so much peace in my heart. Still does. Even better was this past Divine Mercy Sunday, when I made a pilgrimage to Stockbridge, Mass., and prayed for a Plenary Indulgence to release my Mom’s soul from Purgatory, if she was still there, after following the requirements for that.
    What consolation!!

  86. Jayna says:

    Fr. Frank – I STILL hear that clap-trap!

    I voted for black as my ideal, but I don’t know a single priest who would even consider wearing them, much less actually owning a set of black vestments. The best I can hope for is violet. At the present anyway, but I’m only 27 so hopefully I have a few more years left.

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