Bring Back Our BLACK!

Over at NLM there is a good long post about black vestments, in advance of the observance of All Souls, Sunday 2 November (Novus Ordo), Monday 3 November (1962MR).   I want to ad my voice to theirs in support of the use of black vestments as often as appropriate and possible.

All Souls Day is celebrated tomorrow in the modern Roman calendar and transferred to Monday in the calendar of the usus antiquior. It seemed appropriate then to re-post this which I wrote nearly one month ago:

Whensoever October rolls around, my mind turns toward All Souls Day and what has become an annual appeal upon the New Liturgical Movement: the call for parish priests to pull out (or find if need be) black vestments for this day.

This year, All Souls Day falls upon a Sunday, which means that in the calendar of the usus antiquior the day will be transferred to the following day, Monday, November 3rd. In the modern Roman calendar however, it falls on the Sunday.

The question will no doubt arise, may black vestments be worn on a Sunday? [YES!] Looking at the GIRM for the modern Roman missal, I see nothing that would prevent it. Given that black is one of the colours for this feast day, and given that this feast day may happen on a Sunday in the modern liturgy, and, further, given that there is no instruction that I can yet find otherwise, it would seem that black is permitted on All Souls Day in the modern liturgy, even if it falls upon a Sunday.


There is more.  You should look at their post.

It is interesting that the Ordo put together for the Vatican Basilica lists only "Viol." for the color for Sunday.  The other, universal Ordo does the same.  However, in par. 16 in the praenotanda in that Ordo, (p. 16) we find:

16. In Missis defunctorum color violaceus colori nigro praeferatur, …" or "In Masses of the dead, the color violet is to be preferred to the color black."

To which I respond: Oh yah?  Really? 

How is this "preference" to be discerned? 

This is one of those nasty weasel rubrics slipped in during the bad times.  The progressivists and Bugniniists couldn’t abolish black outright, so they inserted slithery suggestions like this in order to give the impression that you can’t use black. 


Furthermore, Summorum Pontificum, among the many things it accomplishes, gets us back in touch with the continuity we need in a healthy approach to worship.  One of the mutual enrichments foreseen by the Legislator clearly has something to do with the vestments used for Holy Mass: watch what the Holy Father has been doing with papal Masses. 

How long have we Romans used black for Masses for the dead?

And let’s use unbleached beeswax candles too!  I want none of your anemic beeswax for my funeral, I’ll tell ya. Do you?  I’m just askin’.

I think a reclamation of black is in order for funerals and Masses for the dead in the Novus Ordo is entirely appropriate.

Let’s get to it, Fathers!

Laypeople, be prepared to purchase good black vestments and unbleached candles for your parishes.

Request black.

Make it happen.

Bring Back Our BLACK!

Unbleached Beeswax NOW!

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Tom in NY" says:

    Unum jucundum: Estne “dic nigrum, fac rubrum” in armis tuis, sed non “nigrum gerendum est.” Bonas salutationes visuris.

  2. Wearing black tomorrow at the Cathedral in Cincinnati. Will post pics (hopefully) on my blog afterwards.

  3. Fr. Vidrine says:

    I will be wearing black here in Lafayette, LA.

  4. Mac McLernon says:

    In the ordinary form, our diocese (Southwark, England, UK) has All Saints on the Sunday, and All Souls is therefore celebrated on the Monday…

    (luckily, we celebrated All Saints in the EF today (major celebration) and will have All Souls on Monday as well…)

  5. Henry says:

    Laypeople, be prepared to purchase good black vestments and unbleached candles for your parishes.

    “BUY it, and they will USE it.” Has worked for me, from beeswax candles to black vestments.

  6. Lucy says:

    Here in Fresno, at St. Anthony’s parish, our newest pastor has brought the black back to funerals. It will be interesting to see if they will be used for all Masses tomorrow. Our family does attend the one Latin Mass allowed in our parish, so I will have to ask around to find out. Brick by brick.

  7. Henry: Good one.

    BUY it.  They’ll USE it!

  8. FATHERS! Tell us what color you are using for All Souls!

  9. George Festa says:

    Here’s a place where you’ll see black vestments tomorrow:

    Marian Friary of Our Lady of Guadalupe
    199 Colonel Brown Road Griswold, Connecticut 06351 (860) 376-6840

    9:30am: Latin Requiem Mass(Usus Antiquior, 1962 Missal)

  10. Fr. Gary V. says:

    Fr. Z,
    Since our parish doesn’t have black vestments, can I use purple instead of white in Novus Ordo Mass tomorrow?

  11. Jayna says:

    I’ve had a look through the vestments in our parish, no black to be found. The church was built in the 70s though, so it’s not surprising that they wouldn’t have anything of that nature. Unfortunately, buying it will not mean that they will use it in my neck of the woods. It would probably be met with “what on earth would I wear black vestments for?” The standard is white for funerals, I have no idea for All Souls as I wasn’t here last year to attend the Mass (this is only my second year in this particular parish).

    I can tell you that I’m requesting the use of at least purple vestments for my funeral, but black would be preferable if they can be come across.

  12. canon1753 says:

    I’m wearing Black. My predecessor once removed (2 priests ago) wore black. There is a nice parish vestment and I have 2 pre-conciliar Gothic vestments… Good choices to have…

  13. Fr. A says:

    I’ll be wearing black, as usual, for the _Novus Ordo_ All Souls Masses.

  14. sacerdosinaeternum says:

    Black Roman Chasuble here for the Novus Ordo Masses.

  15. Fr J says:

    I’ll be wearing a black “watered silk” Roman chasuble for All Souls on Monday (All Saints transferred to Sunday and I’ll be wearing cloth of gold with Agnus motif)!

    Fr Gary V – indeed you can wear purple if black is not around… please do not wear white!

  16. Gloria says:

    At St. Stephen the First Martyr (FSSP) in Sacramento, our three priests will each say three Masses. According to the FSSP Ordo, one of their Masses will be for all the faithful departed and one for the intentions of the Holy Father. They will wear BLACK. The principal Mass will be at 7 p.m., a sung Requiem Mass. The Sacramento diocese’s new Coadjutor Bishop, Jaime Soto, will attend. There will be a reception for him after Mass. He will soon replace retiring Bishop Weigand. We also use unbleached candles and in our bookstore, blessed on the Feast of Purification (available by donation) for the home. Note: A plenary indulgence, applicable only to the Poor Souls, is granted to those who visit a parish church or oratory and recite an Our Father and a Credo on All Souls Day.

    Off subject, but important – Pray for Bishop Soto. He stood up publicly and courageously for the correct position on homosexuality, however in fraternal charity, in a keynote address to a group of Catholic priests and religious who minister to gays. Some walked out on him and one organizer apologized for his remarks!

  17. Father, I am with you %100. I have been using black on this day for the last 12 years and will do so again tomorrow. (Except of course for the Mass in the Extraordinary Form.) As I have told nay-saying parishioners, “Black is beautiful!”

  18. Peter Karl T. Perkins says:

    We shall have our Parish Mass for All Souls’ Day Traditional Latin Mass in black vestments. A kind lady in the Parish has made vestments for Father in all the colours, and I convinced her to add black. It will be the first Mass in black vestments in the Diocese of Victoria, Canada, in about forty years. Today, we had our Mass for All Saints’ Day in white vestments, on the Saturday, the *only* correct day for it.

    We now have sung Masses on Sundays, as at the Feast of Christ the King, which is, of course, always celebrated on the last Sunday in October. Never has it ever been celebrated at any other time!

    Peter Karl T. Perkins
    Victoria, B.C., Canada

  19. Peter Karl T. Perkins says:

    Dear Fr. Vidine:

    I wonder if you could give us an update on the situations in the Diocese of Houma-Thibodaux an the Diocese of Shreveport. Fr. Vance Constant currently celebrates the Novus Ordo in Latin at Gibson, La., but has said that he will substitute the Traditional Latin Mass for this, probably after Christmas. Have you heard anything recently on this?

    I understand that the Diocese of Alexandria now has a every-Sunday Traditional Latin Mass. That came as a real surprise, knowing the disposition of the ordinary there. What about Shreveport? It is currently a vacant see. I’m wondering if there are interested people there.

    Peter Karl T. Perkins

  20. Black vestments are used all the time at Assumption Grotto for funerals, for All Souls Day Masses and even on Memorial Day periodically.

    In this post made on All Saints 2007 is a shot of a Memorial Day Novus Ordo celebrated by Fr. Eduard Perrone, with Fr. Aidan Logan at his side. I was using it to show the black vestments that would be in use the next day, All Souls. (Feel free to use the pic if you want to edit your post, Father). I will have my camera at Mass tomorrow to get some new pics.

    Incidentally, for anyone in the metro Detroit area, Fr. Perrone is conducting the Requiem by Durufle at the 9:30am (if I understood him correctly, it will be a Latin Novus Ordo, not the EF).

  21. JaneC says:

    I like to propose a companion statement to “Buy it! They’ll use it!” How about, “Remind them that it’s already in the closet”? It worked for the censer at our parish. It hadn’t been used in ages and was so dull and dirty that you could hardly see it in the sacristy closet, but my husband polished it for use at our wedding last year and we left behind a large package of good incense, and it now makes regular appearances! I have no hope of black vestments tomorrow morning, but there will probably be incense, and we’re singing excerpts from the Mozart Requiem, so at least it will be somewhat solemn.

  22. John Enright says:


    Durufle’s Requiem was composed in 1947 according the Extraordinary Form. I guess you could use the music of the Introit, etc. and the text of the OF in Latin, but it really doesn’t make a great deal of sense. Why would Fr. Perrone simply not use the EF?

    This, BTW, is one of my favorite Requiems (along with the Unfinished Requiem in D Minor by Mozart and Faure’s Requirem.)

  23. Fr. Roger Fawcett says:

    As a priest in the old rite (and I’m also old enough to remember it as the “norm” and not “extraordinary”) I just want to remind the writer that All Souls never “bumped” the Sunday and black vestments were strictly forbidden on the Lord’s day. That’s one of the reasons that in the Rite of Antiquity, we move the observance to the Monday.

    Black vestments fell out of use in the Church, but were never fobidden. what a nightmare that so many priests destroyed or threw away those vestments.
    Fr Roger

  24. Michael says:

    Let’s not forget Good Friday as well.

  25. Carolina Geo says:

    Our parish priest celebrates both the Novus Ordo and the Tridentine Mass. Is he permitted to celebrate the Tridentine All Souls’ Mass on Sunday this year? Or in other words, is he permitted to mix the Tridentine Mass with the Novus Ordo calendar? Just curious…

  26. Paul S. says:

    Our Lady of Mount Carmel in Tuxedo, NY will have the black vestments. This is a first for me, as I’ve never seen them before today on this site. I can’t wait, the vestments on NLM look awesome.

  27. Father John Horgan says:

    Here at Sts. Peter and Paul in Vancouver, BC Canada, the Masses for All Souls Day will offered in black vestments. Due to glorious embarassment of riches, I will wear a different set at each Mass.

  28. Paul Rimmer says:

    Absolutely Father.

    Black is the new purple.

  29. I was in black for the vigil Mass this evening, and will be in black again tomorrow! As a young priest, I had never seen black used at the Holy Mass before, and had never worn it myself. It is a beautiful vestment, and does bring to mind the reality of mourning the dead, and praying for their souls.

  30. Fr. Reutter says:

    Wearing black at Our Lady of Victory in suburban Cincinnati, Ohio.

    Bought a beautiful black chasuble with silver trim from Veritas Polska, shortly after ordination.

    Very classy. They even threw in the matching chalice veil, burse, and maniple. (Alas, won’t be using the maniple for a while. Haven’t yet had time to learn the Gregorian rite.) One brick at a time.

    Related story: the first time I wore it for a weekday celebration of All Souls’ Day Mass, I had an irate parishioner light into me for doing so, immediately after Mass. Apparently, it triggered a very negative emotional response in her. But on balance, parishioners seem to like the beauty of the older style vestments.

  31. A Random Friar says:

    Don’t just bring back the beesWAX; bring back the BEES! (Exsultet).

  32. John says:

    A propos Fr.Reutter:
    My recollection is that maniples were not abolished by the Novus Ordo, merely that their use was not mandatory. I believe they may be worn util worn out.
    John, UK.

  33. John Enright,

    I believe that Fr. Fawcett’s point is partly behind the reason for Fr. Perrone’s decision. Fr. Perrone has said he will provide an explanation today and I will provide that on my blog later today. Fr. Fawcett explained…

    As a priest in the old rite (and I’m also old enough to remember it as the “norm” and not “extraordinary”) I just want to remind the writer that All Souls never “bumped” the Sunday and black vestments were strictly forbidden on the Lord’s day. That’s one of the reasons that in the Rite of Antiquity, we move the observance to the Monday.

  34. Gavin says:

    Fr. Rueter above is the FIRST priest I’ve ever heard of getting complaints for wearing black. Really, why are priests afraid of black? I don’t get it, I’ve NEVER heard of any complaints over it, and I suspect most people wouldn’t care or notice.

  35. John Enright says:


    I realized that the Calendars are different only after I posted. I should have paid more attention to “think then post.”


  36. Josiah Ross says:

    The priests at my parish wore back for all three OF masses. It was a nice Gothic chasuble with silver orphreys.

  37. Fr. BJ says:

    BUY it, and they will USE it.

    Um, kindly consult with Father or at least someone else who knows what they are doing before following this principle. Two well-meaning people followed this principle and as a result I now and the owner of two “Children of the World” stoles! Father will not use those!

  38. Fr. BJ says:

    I used black today for the two English Masses I celebrated and will later for the Spanish Mass. No one complained (although I think there might have been a few surprised/hesitant looks in the greeting line) and at least three people complimented me on the vestment. I didn’t speak about the vestments: I let them speak for themselves. I think everyone got the point of the black vestments, especially as I preached about Purgatory and the particular judgment, etc. Lots of folks were glad to hear a homily on Purgatory as well. Surprise: they like Catholic homilies! Ego inutilus servus…

  39. chadstei says:

    My Pastor wore black vestments for Mass (which I donated) and changed to a violet cope for Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament at the end of Mass and for Benediction this afternoon.

  40. Father Totton says:

    AS Long has I have had black vestments, I have used them for All Souls’. Yet this is the first time in my short priesthood where this feast (in the OF) fell on a Sunday. A few folks complimented me on “the new vestments”. Nobody seemed distressed at their presence. The local funeral director, who is used to the black vestments, made the comment, “I wondered where the Pall was!”

    Since I began my pastorate here, I have worn black for funeral Masses (unless white was specifically requested by family) – already an established custom in the parish – and I have never had anyone get upset about it. A few times, the servers asked me “why black” and I explained that it is a color which signifies mourning – and that the loss of one we love is a sadness, even if we hope in the resurrection and trust in God’s mercy. It is also a good reminder that funeral Masses (and other Masses for the dead) are not to be confused with canonization Masses.

    When I have had the discussion, usually with other clergy, I point out to them that I rarely see mourners in the pews dressed in white dinner jackets, or sequened white evening gowns. Odd that the mourners generally wear black (or some other dark color) and the priest expects that he should be wearing white vestments.

    There was the trend, for a time in the 1980s, where funeral homes were using coaches and family cars of a gray or silver color – but even that was not white!

    Then there is that great story (probably urban legend) about Cardinal Bernardin at a priest’s funeral and the pre-Mass exchange he had with a black-clad Romanian priest who had come to concelebrate: “He’s Daaaid, your Eminence! Daaaid!”

    I wore black for the OF Masses last evening and this morning, switched to green for the resumed 4th Sunday after Epiphany for the EF Mass. I will wear black at a private Mass (EF) tomorrow and again on Friday for a Sung Requiem in the EF.

  41. Jayna says:

    An update on my parish; white vestments, of course. The whole Mass was structured as a reminder of baptism. Actually, it felt like I was at an Easter Mass. They sang “On Eagle’s Wings” during communion. I hate that song.

  42. Hi everyone:

    I stumbled across this website, and it brought back a lot of memories for
    me. I was raised in a very traditional “Catholic” household by a mother
    whose desire was to “instill” the Catholic faith at the expense of cutting
    herself off from her children and the world in the name of “preserving the

    I do not judge those people who use this forum as a means of sharing a
    common creed and faith. However, as a 43 year old Catholic, I have had
    a lifetime of bad experiences from traditional Catholics who espouse their
    version of the truth while treating others with contempt and scorn, all
    done so in the name of religion. I don’t understand this obsession with
    clinging to things from 2,000 years ago. [But you are not judging anyone, as your choice of “obsession” shows.] It seems to me that these
    traditional Catholics are stuck in a perpetual time warp. And as I’ve said,
    I’ve experienced a lifetime of hurt and pain from these people who claim
    to be so close to God. What a joke! [Whatever it might be, it isn’t a joke. We are talking about eternal salvation and how people are seeking it. That’s not a light matter.]

    Don’t get pissy with me, okay people? [Go back and read what you wrote and ask yourself if you have done unto others as you would have them do unto you.] I’m being honest, but hey, “whatever turns your crank”.

    By the way, I would like to contact Peter Karl Perkins. Peter: I’m John
    Zaffaroni’s brother. You remember me, right?

    A liberated Christian (but still Catholic)
    Paul Zaffaroni

    [BTW… this was off topic.]

  43. Hello again:

    It’s interesting how little “red comments” are inserted into the text I wrote. [How is it done? I edit the comment, and insert what I think is appropriate rather than post it in a separate comment people might not see. – Fr. Z]
    It seems that the I can’t express myself legitimately, without having
    someone else’s opinions inserted. Why can’t you let someone express themselves,
    without the editing. Worried are we, or perhaps seeking justification about
    something which you know I’m write about? [LOL!]

    And by the way, this is all such a joke. [Then go start your own blog focusing on all the important stuff.]

    Keep smiling.
    Paul Zaffaroni

  44. paul zaffaroni says:

    Well, hello again losers (haha, just kidding) :)

    I was reading through the comments on the webpage and I thought I would
    kill myself laughing! So much enthusiasm and zeal for the old way of doing
    things. Hey Fr. Z, no lack of respect, but your page doesn’t have any new
    comments since Nov 08. [?!? Wow! No comments since 8 November? I thought things were a little quiet.] Oh, and now I understand your radical slant too!
    A link to Rush Limbaugh on your page? Fr. Z, shame on you! This man is a
    right wing bigot who lauds ex president Bush for everything! Not to mention
    that he called Michael J. Fox, who suffers from Parkinson, “an exagerrator”.

    How can you Father reconcile this with being a Traditional Catholic priest?
    That speaks volumes to me about you, honestly. You can call this ranting, but
    hey, I call it like it is. [No… it’s just bad manners on your part.] A question: are you one of those nutty
    Sedevacantist priests also, or do you just wave the flag and sing the praises
    of the Republican party?

    God save the world from that “old time Catholicism” which strives to
    reestablish medieval rules and practices while squashing all the real joy
    in life. Thank God Vatican II began to teach that God is love. [Yah… that was a real revelation.]

    Hmm, didn’t St. Paul say that also: “And if I have not charity (love) I am

    Have fun with your editing of my comments. I’m sure you’ll put your own
    twist on things.

    Happy trails
    Paul Zaffaroni

    P.S. Going to the Tridentine mass doesn’t guarantee you salvation, nor make
    you a better person.

  45. paul zaffaroni says:

    I too am on a mission from God :)

    Paul Zaffaroni

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