POLL: What color vestments for your own funeral?

Originally posted on 20 August…

Under other entries people are talking about the strange term "Mass of Resurrection".

They are also talking about the color of vestments for funerals, including their own preferences.

What would you prefer for your own funeral (understanding that the priest has the final decision)?

Make your choice and give your reasons for your choice, below.

When the time comes, what color vestments would you prefer for your own funeral?

Total Votes: 2964 Started: 30 August 2009 – ENDED 8 Sept

UPDATE: 1 Sept 1354 GMT:

I dunno… fairly conclusive?

You decide.


Okay… now the Black choice can spot the other two choices, what… 2000 votes?  And still win?

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  1. catholicuspater says:

    I remember watching the funeral of Princess Grace of Monaco many years ago, which, I beleive, may have been a OF Requiem Mass.

    I thought that the color purple was a fine balance between the two extremes of black and white.

    The reason for this is that purple denotes penance and purification while keeping the firm hope that it’s going to end up all right.

    Black seems a rather hopeless color to me, sort of like “what’s the use of being good, cause you’ll lose in the end anyway.”

    White – well that’s just liberal baloney canonizing us when we know we’re not Mother Teresa or any of the other saints by a long shot.

    Can you use purple in the EF Requiem, Fr. Z?

  2. sekman says:

    The term, “mass of resurrection” is ridiculous, totally presumptive and gives the impression that one need not pray for the repose of the soul of the deceased. Black vestments are truly beautiful and give the appropriate impression of the funeral, with the black vestments I would love to have a black funeral pall used at my funeral.

  3. catholicuspater: Black and white are not extremes. They are legitimate options in the post-Conciliar Roman Rite. Furthermore, in no way can black be considered an extreme, considering its immemorial use in the Latin Rite. White, however, can and should be considered an innovation in the Latin Rite.

    In the Extraordinary Form, black is prescribed for Requiem Masses. However, if there are no black vestments available, white substitutes for any color. If the Blessed Sacrament is present at the altar the frontal would not be black, but rather purple.

  4. Ellen says:

    Purple. I want purple. I am doing my level best to avoid serious sin, but I am not so presumptious as to think I am perfect and will zip right up to heaven. I think purple will sum up the state of my soul.

  5. KAS says:

    I was torn between black and purple. The purple for penitence seems appropriate to me, after all, I hope at my death that I was repentant and in as full a state of grace as possible. I would also hope that others would know to pray for my soul and to have masses said for me. Further, I want everyone to think about being penitent themselves so that their spiritual health will be improved by their spending this time to attend a mass for my death.

    White for baptismal purity seem presumptuous to me. After all, nobody but God will know the state of my soul at my death and I don’t want anyone assuming that I was peachy keen clean! I want them to presume I still need prayers!

  6. gloriainexcelsis says:

    If I am still fortunate enough to be in my FSSP parish, they will be black with a silver shade trim. They are beautiful and appropriate. To me, they are to remind the living of the mortality we all share. Purple for penance is fine, but for the deceased the time for temporal penance is past.

  7. FrCharles says:

    I consider every Mass I offer to be ‘of the Resurrection.’

    In my community we actually put our funeral requests on file. I am the MC for friar funerals, so I get these emailed to me upon the death of one of the brothers. For mine, I have asked for white vesture, because I want to wear my white baptismal garment one last time. (Plus I know that they would be unwilling to use black, and I know we don’t have a black or violet funeral pall.) I also want to avoid certain other problems–I recently attended a large funeral for a religious priest in which the preacher and two deacons were vested in black, the principal celebrant in purple, and the concelebrating priests in white.

  8. Dr. Eric says:

    As the worst of sinners, I chose black. I think that people are still confused as to what black vestments really mean. Purple is a sign of the people’s repentance. The funeral Mass is for the deceased and his soul.

    White is for the Glory of Heaven and we cannot know if the deceased is in Heaven, Hell, or Purgatory.

    If we knew the deceased was in Hell, there would be no Mass for him.

  9. There’s nothing depressing about black vestments. They’re not all-black, even. Me likey.

    And you know, nobody says, “Oh, tuxedos are so depressing with all their black.”

    I suppose that if there were a ninja saint, you _would_ want all black vestments. Preferably the feastday would be celebrated before dawn, lit by nothing but itsy bitsy candles, and even more silently than usual. The congregation could wear starlight-vision goggles. :)

  10. Dr. Eric says:

    Some of this reminds me of the M*A*S*H episode where I think it was Klinger married a Korean lady and he gave her a white wedding gown and she asked whose funeral it was for. In the East there are 5 Phases of matter (which is translated as 5 Elements) and each phase has a color and emotion associated with it (among other things) and the Metal phase is associated with death, grief or melancholy and the color white. The Fire phase is associated with joy, happiness and the color red. That’s why at Asian weddings, New Year, and other festive occasions, everything is red.

    Black on the other hand, is associated with the Water phase and fear. I’ll spare you the rest of the associations of the 5 Phases.

  11. Thomas S says:

    Black vestments… and ad orientam! That’ll send some family members for a loop. Seriously though, it would be a great catechetical moment just by the sign and without any explanation.

    On a related note, what’s the traditional vestment (color) a deceased priest wears in the coffin?

  12. Dr. Eric says:

    St. Paul Miki was from a Samurai family, but he is shown in his gray Franciscan habit tied to a cross (the instrument of his martyrdom.)

  13. Dr. Eric says:

    That was in response to Suburbanbanshee.

  14. Thomas S: what’s the traditional vestment (color) a deceased priest wears in the coffin?


  15. MargaretMN says:

    I have a question. I thought that Mass of the Resurrection emphasized that the deceased was no longer among us but “elsewhere” (heaven, purgatory or even the other place), that as Christians we believe that death is not the end. I didn’t think it implied that upon death, we know the person went to heaven. People may want to believe that but I don’t think a white vestment necessarily proclaims that. It seems more symbolic of Christ’s Resurrection not the individual’s. Unless that’s not true, I would still vote white. A funeral, after a good death and a faithful life is one of the most important ways that we can demonstrate our identity as Christians to non-believers.

  16. robkphd says:

    I prefer black. Purple would be OK. Heck, I just want mass said for me – as many times as possible.

  17. MargaretMN says:

    I have only been to two priest funerals, one a diocesan priest and the other a Jesuit. The diocesan priest was laid out in a green! (Ordinary time) vestment and the Jesuit in a white vestment. I didn’t know either of them well enough to know whose choice this was, the priest or those who had the duties of preparing their bodies for wake/burial. Another diocesan priest I once knew was also a third order Francisan and has instructions that he be buried in a Franciscan habit. But I guess none of these options would be considered “traditional.”

  18. Mitchell NY says:

    I prefer black as it is what I have seen in photos, movie clips etc. from years past. My Catholic heritage and tradition.. It indeed adds to the solemnity of the funeral and hopefully would remind people they are there to mourn AND pray for my soul. (which is all to often forgotten or not done today)..Suppressing black to me is as silly as suppressing red, or one of the other liturgical colors..I often hear people say they are wearing another color to a funeral Mass other than black and when asked why they respond “Because you don’t have to anymore”. They can not cite the source of where they heard it and even less know any just reason behind it. They simply do not wear black, because “They Heard”. I think this is all part and parcel of let’s change everything we can post conciliar..For that reason alone I would wish the Priest to wear the traditional black and maybe a few people may be re educated in the truth behind the liturgical choice. It has its’ place and good reasons behind its’ continued use. And I know it is not part of the question but I would like to have an EF Requiem as well. If I could bequeath a gift to those still alive, it would be to introduce them to the Requiem Mass.

  19. Thomas S says:

    Thanks for the link, Father. I guess you can’t be buried Bobby Knight-style with those vestments though.

  20. chcrix says:

    The priest who married my parents was a WWII Naval Chaplain in combat areas. I was told he had only one set of reversable vestments – white on one side and black on the other.

    Black it is.

  21. smcollinsus says:

    Suburban… beat me to it! When it comes to the most formal joyous affiars, it’s either black-tie or white-tie, both of which involve shiney black tuxedos. Probably 90% of weddings have the menfolk dressed thusly. We had 2 priests, one a relative the other our Pastor. I wish we could have found matiching vestments of white, but they just brought their own.

    For my funeral it will be black. I’ll write it into a will if I must. My preference for Mass will be the EF, sung or otherwise. My second choice would be Anglican Use.

    I might also write into my will (just in case certain relatives get hold of the Liturgy!) that, if any “songs” are performed, or any strummed sting instruments are involved, if all of my other wishes are NOT followed, my bereaved my have a “Memorial Mass”,

  22. smcollinsus says:

    WITHOUT MY BODY THERE, AND EVEN WITHOUT ANY PICTURE OF ME PRESENT. Even dead, I will NOT be a part to any such Liturgy.

    (I don’t know why that didn’t continure in the previous post.)

  23. Tina in Ashburn says:

    I voted black because its “tradition!!!!”
    [apologies to Fiddler on the Roof]

    As many Vatican-II-esque practices, wearing white has become derailed in the translation, creating a worse impression than the poorly understood tradition that the new practice replaced.

    I’m guessing white at funerals is supposed to remind us of hope, based on the belief of the Resurrection and the implied mercy. Unfortunately, the Mass of the Resurrection has devolved into the happy-clappy everybody-goes-to-heaven-cuz-u-resurrected interpretation. Common practice has now become not praying for the relief of the deceased [cuz they’re probably in heaven anyway] to focusing on comforting those left behind. Although we are sad and going to miss the deceased, we should be happy now that they have gone to other side and are pain-free now. This gross misinterpretation of what the white vestments are supposed to mean makes me reject the whole custom.

    To me, the black represents the traditional practices, beliefs and values of the original intention of the funeral Mass. The color brings to mind the sackcloth and ashes of Nineveh, begging God for a reprieve from Justice, offering Sacrifice and begging for mercy for a now-helpless soul. For a personal choice I might pick fuchsia, since I love that color. But don’t forget, the Mass doesn’t belong to us, but to the Church. Design-a-Mass isn’t our option. Fully expressing the Faith to our best ability is what practicing Catholics are supposed to do.

    What is done at Mass is not based on ‘my’ opinion, but what the traditions of the Church tell us to do.

  24. Baron Korf says:

    Black for me.

    “Quid sum miser tunc dicturus?
    Quem patronum rogaturus,
    cum vix justus sit securus?”

    And yes I want that sung at my funeral too, regardless of which form they use.

  25. Girgadis says:

    I look at my funeral Mass as my last chance, in charity, to correct and educate the unenlightened and misinformed, so I hope the priest will choose black. I’ve attended too many family funerals where people have the audacity to assume the deceased went straight to heaven. I wouldn’t presume that I will be so fortunate as to bypass Purgatory, and the color black helps, I think, to reinforce that the deceased need prayers. Before I even had a will, I wrote explicit funeral instructions. Unfortunately, my father’s side of the family has its share of but-in-skis that love to dictate what other people should sing/read/pray etc at their loved ones’ funerals. The last family funeral Mass had a litany of abuses that would have fit right in yesterday.
    One thing I will say: I don’t know that I want people mourning my passing. I would want them to rejoice that my earthly exile is over and I’m that much closer to my eternal home. Maybe that’s overly simplistic or sentimental but there it is.

  26. catholicuspater says:

    Thank you for the clarification Father. Yes, since Black is of immemorial tradition, it shouldn’t be considered an extreme, you are correct.

    I guess perhaps the problem is me, in that I don’t understand the meaning of Black as it relates to a God who is yes, all just, but also all merciful.

    That’s why purple seems more appropriate.

    Yet, I need to come to terms with the raison d’etre of the Black, which I don’t fully understand, as it seems so depressing.

  27. TNCath says:

    I would prefer black for my funeral because it is the traditional color. However, purple and white do not offend me, provided they are decent vestments.

    I do think, however, that black ought to be the norm for All Souls Day.

  28. lmgilbert says:

    To me black is a very lugubrious color for a Catholic funeral. If a person died a repentant Catholic, the presumption should be that he is in fact going to Heaven, albeit with a likely stop at Purgatory along the way. In other words, the presumption should be that if he is not in Heaven, he is at least on his way. Is that not in itself a cause for rejoicing? Do we not celebrate the death of saints as their birthday into eternal life? Doesn’t St Paul place us among the saints even while writing to us on earth?

    This is not “canonization,” because there is not absolute certainty, but if a person is entitled to a Catholic funeral at all, the presumption has got to be that he is on his way to Heaven.

    How well I remember in the early sixties cheerily setting out on bright summer mornings for daily Mass only to have the priest appear AGAIN in black vestments and a lady who had outlived her voice screeching the Dies Irae from the upper recesses of the rear of the Church. That pretty much put a damper on my morning…morning after norning. Such are my associations with black vestments.

    Black makes death a more bitter thing than it should be, so have white at my funeral to attentuate your mourning and pray for the repose of my soul- which would be a little irritated at finding my casket draped in black.

  29. Mike Morrow says:

    Black vestments are an absolutely essential part of setting the solemn and special nature of the Requiem Mass.

    Requiem Masses in my pre-Vatican II parish utilized the local parochial school students for the servers and the choir, and as such most of us students participated in several each year. The proper Gregorian chant for the Requiem was sung. The Requiem Mass with burial service was recognized by all for the extraordinary one-time-only event that it was for the one who had passed.

    The same attitude was applied to Requiem Masses for special events, such as the three Requiem Masses that I served the day after JFK was assassinated.

    Such Masses have always deserved the profound solemnity and symbology of black vestments, which effect is far greater than from common liturgical colors. White or purple vestments would have been an insult to the solemnity of a funeral Mass. How odd and perverse it strikes me that any color other than black could ever be considered!

    Black is special.

  30. William says:

    Ashes to ashes, dust to dust. Black. Funeral/requiem Mass is mainly a plea for the happy disposition of the soul of the deceased. Also, it is a vivid reminder that we, too, shall have to pony-up one fine day (after all, no one of us is gonna get out of this world alive). When is the last time you were reminded that sinning has consequences at Holy Mass? World would be better place more of us understood this.

  31. Mike Morrow says:

    Imgilbert wrote: “To me black is a very lugubrious color for a Catholic funeral.”

    Does fourty years of new order “innovation” trump more than 1,500 years of Roman Catholic tradition?

    Imgilbert wrote: “How well I remember in the early sixties cheerily setting out on bright summer mornings for daily Mass only to have the priest appear AGAIN in black vestments and a lady who had outlived her voice screeching the Dies Irae…”

    Well, something was very wrong. A nun at my parochial school conducted training of the choir students in the common chant once per week. Such students were the principal choir of the parish. I never once heard the Dies Irae being sung in my parish that I didn’t marvel at its power and beauty!

    Imgilbert wrote: “Black makes death a more bitter thing than it should be…”

    Unfortunately, the corruption of the past fourty years has afflicted many people with such perceptions.

  32. Roland de Chanson says:

    I voted for black but I have changed my mind. I wanted black in a traditional requiem Mass. But the only trad parish has no altar rail and a novus ordo slab blocking the High Altar. This borders on pandemonium and is an inauspicious omen for a Stygian boatride.

    So I now want purple and white as in the toga praetexta. And I want the flamen dialis to read some portions of the De natura deorum which I will choose for the occasion. There will be no cellos, though a tuba and tibia would be nice. There will be a Lucullan repast immediately following the rite. I almost wish I could be there.

    Romanus ero etiamsi Romani diutius non sunt.

  33. Roland: I hope in the style of the flamen he wears that wonderfully stupid cap with the spike and disk.

  34. Torpedo1 says:

    I would want the priest to wear black for my funeral, and I would want a requiem mass as well. I think funerals today don’t allow people to grieve. I think they concentrate on the berieved being happy, that we’re not supposed to be sad cause the person has gone to a better place than this. First of all, how do we know that, and second, what’s wrong with being sad at a funeral? I figure it’s the best place for it. Plus, and this is a much more personal thing, I can’t seem to get through to my family, almost all of whom are CNOs, the importants of their forgotten faith, and of how precious their souls are. Maybe, if I have an EF Requiem mass, with black everything, they’ll understand that I want prayers said for my soul after I die, that I don’t want to be forgotten, because if it were them, I would remember them, as I always do in my prayers for the Holy Souls.

  35. Sieber says:

    A great service to us all would be the publishing of a DVD of the funeral of JFK. The procession to the Church of the heads of state, many Catholic, ie De gaulle, the Requiem Mass with Richard Cardinal Cushing, the graveside at Arlington. And, oh yes, the Pipes and Drums of the Black Watch Regiment (recently downsized to a battalion). All are currently in various documentaries, that is, all but the Mass itself….always excised.

  36. Sieber says:

    Roland, I hope the musicians are latinists or you may end up with a Sousaphone instead of a trumpet. Come to think of it, I’ve never heard the Dies on an e flat tuba…hhhhhmmmmmmmm.

  37. Roland de Chanson says:

    Fr. Z: I hope in the style of the flamen he wears that wonderfully stupid cap with the spike and disk.

    I will insist on it. It is the venerable prototype of the mitre! :-)

  38. Fr. John Mary says:

    For what it’s worth, I find great consolation in the black vestments for the Requiem Mass. Too often, the “mourning process” (if you will) gets by-passed by “he/she is in a better place” which in my humble opinion, is a disservice both to the deceased and to the mourners. The sobriety and solemnity of the ancient tradition of having black vestments, unbleached candles, the ancient texts and Gregorian chants of the Requiem Mass (in both Forms), and in the EF, of the “leaving out” of some usual rites and prayers, the change of the words of the “Agnus Dei” from “have mercy on us” to “grant them eternal rest…’sempiternam'” is a reminder that this is something special, something important. The present day funeral practices can prevent people from dealing with their grief and loss through by-passing the needed time of mourning. There is a definite sense in the ancient practices and rituals that indeed, we live in a “veil of tears” and this is not our lasting home. Yet, the hope of eternal life and reunion with our loved ones in the Communion of Saints is the very basis of all of this.

  39. Fr. John Mary says:

    Oops..that should be “vale of tears”. But, come to think of it, our life of faith is like a veil over what is “really real”, to be revealed in eternal life, and so maybe that works, too.

  40. bernadette says:

    I want black vestments with skull and crossbones like I saw in a picture somewhere on the internet of a requiem in Rome.

  41. Catholicity says:

    I want the priest to be wearing black at my funeral. It doesn’t have anything to do with being a teaching moment, it is just what I’d prefer. The one thing that will be explcit in my final wishes is “NO EULOGY”

    If I had to choose, the priest could wear one of the tie-dyed monstrosities they made BXVI wear at his first U.S. papal Mass…but no eulogy. Just do the Mass according to the rubrics, maybe include a short sermon about how we should pray for the soul of the departed, then drive me to the cematery and hoist me into the soil.

    No stupid stuff, please.

  42. Christina says:

    I’d go for black, because I don’t see them often and because they are traditional. Or are they not often used because they are traditional? I’d be fine with purple, though. I wouldn’t advise my family or priest to use white; I think that’d be a bit presumptuous.

  43. Daniel says:

    I would love to have black vestments used at my funeral. First of all, even though I am a young man, I still think that “Old Fashioned” is cool. It wasn’t broke back before Vatican II, so why did we try to fix it?

    I just went to a funeral yesterday of a young man in his early 20’s, and naturally his buddies from high school all showed up, and there were about 200 people in attendance. I would say that 85% – 90% of those in attendance were wearing black. Why? It just seems to be what we do when it comes to funerals.

    It seems like there is an utter fear of death today. We will do anything to try to avoid talking about death and do our best to cover it up when it inevitably happens. As others have said, why do we have to make a funeral into a therapy session to help us all feel better with cute stories and often pithy sayings?

    Black is a colour of mourning, and funerals are the best place for that. Black vestments stand out of the ordinary colours, and remind me to pray for the deceased. If I am suffering in purgatory, I would way rather people look at the black and remember to pray than to look at the white, and feel better inside because I’m “in a better place.”

  44. Jason Keener says:

    Black vestments would seem to be the most appropriate for a funeral because black calls to mind the dire realities of sin, death, and judgment. People in our day seem to want to bypass these heavy realities for the express lane to the Resurrection. Not a good idea. Let’s remain sober, prayerful, and not too presumptive because we have no idea if our loved ones have gone to Heaven or not.

    Moreover, black vestments appropriately acknowledge the sadness of those who mourn the loss of a loved one and the sadness we all feel that death and toil have entered the world through man’s fall.

  45. Jayna says:

    I had never in all my life heard a funeral be referred to as a “Mass of Resurrection.” Where on earth did CNN dig that one up? I would have liked it if they’d at least learned the basics about the terminology, rituals, etc. I heard someone who identified himself as a former altar boy call the funeral pall a “Catholic flag.”

    I chose black, but since the availability of black vestments (particularly in OF parishes) is not exactly widespread, I would be perfectly happy with purple. I told my mother while watching the funeral yesterday, however, that if I should die before her, she has to make sure the priest does not wear white. I will haunt him. And I may actually tell my priest that tomorrow. Just in case.

  46. Mike Morrow says:

    Sieber wrote: “A great service to us all would be the publishing of a DVD of the funeral of JFK.”

    It was liturgically disappointing. JFK’s family elected to have a *low* Mass for the funeral!

  47. Random Friar says:

    My religious community has “death wishes” er… “funeral requests” as well on file. Mine are, essentially (aside from whom I wish to celebrate, preach, etc):

    1. Black. If you’re not wearing black, you’re not concelebrating. Sit in coro. Black is the color of mourning. I want people sad that I’m gone, not rejoicing. ;) BTW, don’t let the lack of black vestments stop you. There’s a long religious tradition called “borrowing,” which we Dominicans do all the time in our preaching. Why not borrow some vestments?

    2. Dies Irae.

    3. My name may not be mentioned in the homily, nor any direct reference be used. As a Dominican, I consider that as a challenge to my fellow friars of the Order of Preachers to figure out how to do it. ;)

    It will still be OF (although I left the Dominican Rite as an option for the celebrant).

  48. maynardus says:

    >Sieber wrote: “A great service to us all would be the publishing of a DVD of the funeral of JFK.”

    >>It was liturgically disappointing. JFK’s family elected to have a low Mass for the funeral!

    Probably Cardinal Cushing’s decision, he was a low Mass kind of guy. A close friend who is a priest (or should I say a priest who is a close friend?) always says that “the Irish prefer their liturgy off the back of a truck!” I can’t disagree. (disclaimer – we’re both part Irish.)

    Bobby Kennedy’s funeral was on t.v. when I was a kid – we had a black and white t.v. – and the commentator remarked that Archbishop Cooke was wearing purple vestments which was the new thing. To be honest I’ve been to a few O.F. funerals where the priest wore black (obviously most of the ones I’ve attended in the O.F. were white) but I cannot recall seeing purple in person.

    When my day comes I will have a traditional requiem Mass (Deo volente…), but were that not a possibility I’d still hope for black. At least two others who’ve commented above lamented the attenuation of grief and mourning in the post-conciliar Church and I think they’re spot on. I’ve been to about a dozen O.F. funerals in the past five years but I can only recall being urged on one occasion to pray for the deceased – y’know there’s a reason we refer to these as “canonizations”!

    The liturgy isn’t supposed to be a “teaching moment” but what about the necessity for the Church to remind people of the truth so they’ll tend to the care of their own souls? If the Church believes what it teaches, white vestments (for anyone other than innocent children) seem quite presumptuous, and they exemplify the ambiguity that has seeped into the presentation of just about every facet of the Faith.

  49. Tantum Ergo says:

    Black will make the point that the Mass is not a canonization, but a plea for prayer for my poor soul. I have made it known that I want for my funeral a priest who believes in Purgatory.

  50. Tantum Ergo says:

    Fr. Z…
    I know that eulogies are “non grata”. Could you point out the reasons? Just curious.

  51. Roland de Chanson says:

    Maynardus: the Irish prefer their liturgy off the back of a truck

    Despite being French, I grew up for a number of years in an Irish parish. I once heard someone describe a low mass as “trailer park liturgy”! The fact is most of the Sunday masses were low masses. But funerals were generally high masses. It was paltry stuff — but the ultimate bathos was the novus ordo. A vermisch of Luther and Cranmer. Ugh.

  52. Black.

    I’m Italian.

    ‘Nuff said.

  53. Willebrord says:

    Speaking of JFK’s funeral Mass, I remember reading about it in “Why the Catholics Can’t Sing” (recently featured in NLM). Apparently it was indeed liturgically disappointing, the author said this was due to the negative view the Irish had towards music.

    The reason for that was that it seemed “too English.” The Irish had centuries of persecution, where the Church was underground, whereas the Anglicans sang hymns, hence they connected good hymns with Englishmen.

    By the way, I chose black, both because of tradition, and because I want people to mourn and pray for me at my funeral.

  54. Antiquarian says:

    I think JFK’s funeral was misrepresented in “Why Catholics Can’t Sing.” I was young, but I remember watching it– and, full disclosure, my father sang in the choir.

    Here’s a list of all the music from that day. Scroll down to the Mass and you’ll see that it included chant, as well as Perosi’s Sanctus and Benedictus and Schubert’s Ave Maria.


    You’ll also note the US Naval Academy Catholic Choir sang at the White House that day.

  55. Hidden One says:

    Black. More likely to convert those who have yet to shuffle off this mortal coil.

  56. Black is the traditional color of the Requiem Mass and that is what I would like to see at my own funeral.

  57. isabella says:

    Black. And I may start sewing the vestments while I am still alive, since many priests don’t have them any more. Then, he is obviously welcome to keep them. At first, I thought this was morbid, but since I wrecked my car a little over a week ago, it made me realize death can come at any time, whether we expect it or not (no injuries, thank God).

  58. Dove says:

    Black, definitely. And the EF Mass, of course. Our parish has a paid choir that sings the Requiem Masses. I would prefer a parish choir. I may decide to have a low mass.

  59. Jane says:

    I prefer purple. Black seems too severe, white is too happy. Purple is sombre and penitential, but not depressing and seems liturgical enough for the purpose.

  60. Sieber says:

    I’m not sure why JFK’s funeral Mass was liturgically disappointing. Have you ever heard Cardinal Cushing sing?? His unique speaking voice & tendency to go on and on brought possibly divine intervention at JFK’s inauguration when the electrical cords to his Microphone caught fire…. although the day was otherwise impossibly cold.
    Bruce Herschensohn produced the definitive documentary on those dramatic times.
    See, “Years of Lightning, Days of Drums”, produced for the U.S. Information Agency.
    My point was that what was shown to the nation was a Catholic Mass for the dead and that death is a serious thing. In that time, a traumatized Nation would not have tolerated anything less.

  61. Annie says:

    Black. It’s got to be black. And EF. I don’t want anyone smiling, save that for the wake. Oh, and if anyone of a more modern persuasion misguidedly suggests singing anything written after 1600, especially the horrid ‘I watch the sunrise’, I will come back and haunt them most unpleasantly ;)

  62. I would definitely prefer black. It seems to reflect the mood of the occasion, and I want people to be reminded to pray for the repose of my soul.

  63. figulus says:

    Black, I definitely prefer black. But I’d settle for violet, per the instruction of the IGMR (which makes, as I recall, black an acceptable substitute for violet, “ubi mos est”. I’d say that “mos est” everywhere in the western world.) What I don’t like is the American indult for white; the American bishops should abolish that silly anti-tradition.

  64. irishgirl says:

    I voted for black. I’d rather have people pray for me rather than ‘canonize’ me.

    BTW-speaking of JFK’s funeral Mass, I’m reading ‘The Death of a President’ by William Manchester. Haven’t gotten to the part about the Mass yet, though….

  65. irishgirl says:

    Ooops-I should have said, ‘I’d prefer to have people pray for me instead of ‘canonizing’ me.’

    Oh, well-it’s Monday morning, and I’m groggy from taking a pill to help me sleep last night.

  66. Prof. Basto says:

    I voted for black.

    And I don’t want my funeral to be a show.

    I don’t want people to focus on praising me; I do not deserve canonization and my funeral shouldn’t be turned into one.

    I hope that people will pray for the repose of my soul, in my funeral and beyond.

    I of course expect my relatives to mourn my loss; and I hope that all that are invited will be edified by the Funeral liturgy, that should transmit both ideas of Christian hope AND fear of the Lord (which fear is “the beginning of wisdom”). People should pray that God will be merciful; not take his mercy (which is boundless) for granted.

  67. lucy says:

    Black. As Fr. stated, because of it’s use immemorial in the Latin Rite. I want people to pray me into Heaven, not celebrate my “new life” !

    Holy Father, please send the folks in Fresno, CA a bishop who is at least friendly to the traditional way of things ! We’re praying, hoping, begging for an FSSP parish.

  68. Bill Haley says:

    I hope that people pray for my soul. It seems funerals are NOT for the people in attendance but for the soul of the faithful departed. That, most likely, will be the only time my name will be used in the proper of the canon. I want others piling on their prayers.

  69. Lori Ehrman says:

    I like the Black Vestments too. It must be the italian in me.

  70. ssoldie says:

    Kudo’s to you Bill Haley, same for me, but no open casket for me either.

  71. uptoncp says:

    Black for me, please. And the Sequence chanted.

    If the term “Mass of Resurrection” refers to anything, surely it should be Resurrexi not Requiem. In fact, I think I’ve come across it in that context in the Sarum use.

  72. Gee… I am not a pollster, but doesn’t this look to be fairly conclusive even with a +/- of, say 75 points?

  73. Henry Edwards says:

    Father Z: I dunno… fairly conclusive?

    So 86% would prefer black, 8% purple, 6% white. Whereas in the U.S. one might observe 97% white, 2% purple, 1% black (just guessing) in practice. Hmm … Are the liturgists and the people out of sync?

  74. Allan S. says:

    I had to plan my own funeral mass last year, given the whole cancer thing. Honestly, I never addressed this issue at all and really I don’t care. I tried to structure it in a way that would give comfort to my young family.

    I’m pretty sure no one would notice, or care, what colour the vestment was. So long as it’s not that rainbow thingy Father sometimes wears….

  75. Mike Morrow says:

    Allen wrote: “So long as it’s not that rainbow thingy Father sometimes wears….”

    Why wasn’t “rainbow thingy” one of the choices for this poll? I’ll bet that then the numbers would not have been so one-sided, what with all those “Easter-People” out there! :-)

  76. Jayna says:

    A couple of people have commented on JFK’s funeral in here, I thought I’d mention that there are some pretty extended clips of it on YouTube. Cardinal Cushing’s Latin is priceless.

  77. jo seno says:


    when I die, I want people to pray for me especially during my funeral… not canonized.

  78. Tominellay says:


  79. The Digital MC says:

    Black. Definitely black.

  80. lmgilbert says:

    This discussion raises an interesting question for 6% of us anyway.

    If I want my requiem Mass in the extraordinary form but with white vestments, is that even possible? My guess is the answer would be, Technically yes, but practically all the priests who would be willing to say Mass in the extraordinary form would be unwilling to say that Mass vested in white. Or am I wrong?

  81. Mike Morrow says:

    “If I want my requiem Mass in the extraordinary form but with white vestments, is that even possible?”

    The General Rubrics of the 1962 Roman Missal (XVIII,F,132.b) require black for Masses and Offices of the Dead (with one exception that does not apply to this case).

    A mass which so violated the rubrics by intentional substitution of white should no longer be considered to be of the extraordinary form, especially if the dictates of the missal and centuries of Church tradition were to be so greviously ignored or customized to suit personal whim. It would be some sort of hybrid…novus ordo territory. This NOT a *minor* departure!

    Oh, for the return to the days when the possibility of a choice in such matters could not be countenanced.

  82. Traductora says:

    Black. I don’t care if white is the mourning color of Asia, I don’t live there and I have nothing to do with Asian culture. Black is the tradition in the West, and that’s where I live and who I am. And I want the old mass. I’ll haunt anyone who decides otherwise.

  83. Thomas S says:


    I just watched a clip of Cardinal Cushing. Priceless is an apt description of his Latin…

    …and it was HIS Latin.

    (Fellow alumnus of Boston College High School, too.)

  84. Jayna says:

    “and it was HIS Latin”

    I wonder if his particular delivery grew out of the fact that for most of his life none of that was said audibly for the congregation. And as a result, perhaps he never felt the need to perfect his pronunciation or clearly enunciate the words? Just imagine being an altar boy at one of his Masses. They didn’t have to know Latin, they had to know Cushing.

    Incidentally, was that the first Catholic funeral (or even Mass in general) to be aired on national television? What a way to introduce the general public to Catholic worship.

  85. uptoncp says:

    I’m no statistician either, but I do feel the need to point out that readers of this blog are (alas) highly unlikely to be a representative sample of the Church.

  86. Regina says:

    I find it somewhat disappointing that discussions such as this are so often “black and white,” and I don’t mean just the vestments. When a Catholic dies in a presumed state of grace, it is, theologically, cause for celebration. It doesn’t mean that that person is “canonized,” but rather that we believe in the Resurrection. We pray for the dead and offer masses — and I’ll grant that this is not done as often as it should be — but our emphasis I think should be on the “Good News.”
    I don’t suppose there’s ever been a funeral for someone who wasn’t a sinner, but we should be joy-filled that that is not the end of the story. We commend our brother/sister to the mercy of Our Lord, confident in His promise of everlasting life.

  87. NLucas says:

    uptoncp: Good point, but, as the esteemed Henry Edwards pointed out, black vestements simply aren’t an option for at least 95% of us in the US for our Requiem Masses.

    Regina: Another good point. I would argue, though, that the TLM Requiem with black vestments expresses “commending our brother/sister to the mercy of Our Lord” in a much more eloquent and rich way than the Mass of Christian Burial. The Dies Irae alone: “Salve me, fons pietatis/Save me, o Font of Mercy” expresses Christian hope in a way that “let’s celebrate the life of Mrs. O’Shaughnessy” or “And I will raise him up on eagle’s wings, bear him on the breath of dawn” doesn’t.

    The traditional Requiem, with black vestments, also confronts death in a way consistent with Christian hope. Death is bad. Real bad, and unnatural–the separation of soul from body, the result of Original Sin and the opposite of our ultimate end. Purgatory is bad. Real bad, according at least to the witness of a host of mystic saints. Mourning and praying for the dead represents that hope–if someone is damned, neither our prayers nor a “life celbration/resurection service” will get him or her to heaven. However, prayer for the dead in the traditional way is both charitable and hopeful–to assist, through the Communion of the Saints, our loved ones in achieving the ultimate end of the reuniting of soul and body before Our Blessed Lord’s throne for eternity.

    In Christ,

  88. NLucas: Not only is death bad – a punishment for sin, but death should remind us to die to the things of this world.

  89. NLucas says:

    Father Z: “Death should remind us to die to the things of this world.”

    Spot on, Father. That’s why I think that the restoration of the TLM Requiem Mass and the use of black vestments in both forms of the Roman Rite are so important. In US culture, it appears that the ideas of cheating death and denying death are omnipresent. How can we die to the things of this world when we deny death? How can we be charitable to souls who die in a state of grace if we deny the sufferings of death and the sufferings of purgatory?

    Black vestments and the Dies Irae, especially, confront the reality of death, invoke God’s mercy on the deceased, and remind the living of what we need to do.

    In Christ,

  90. Mike Morrow says:

    The Dies Irae was the first thing trash-canned by the post-Vatican II Bug-nini new-order crowd, a very early and clear indication that something very wrong, very bizarre, was taking place. Add white vestments for Requiems to that to sense the desparate and largely successful effort that was exerted to drive Roman Catholic tradition to extinction!

    The Dies Irae was, to me, the most distinctive attribute and the core to the proper Requiem Mass.

    I’ve been to several novus ordo requiem masses in the past few years, including my father’s funeral. I always regret after each that the novus ordo church purposefully denies the profound solemnity of the pre-Vatican II Requiem Mass for the deceased, rather than the novus ordo’s touchy-feely-good-times phone-book-missalet/hymnal “requiem.”

    I seem to sense, perhaps incorrectly I hope, that many TLM communities don’t advance quickly to offer the Requiem High Mass of the day of burial, including the chant. I believe that this is the most important and highest priority milestone for all such communities. Nature being what it is, this Mass will be required more often in a community of reasonable size than events like Christmas, Easter, or other once-per-year High Masses. The passing of a parishoner demands the appropriate final Mass, not the new-order anti-traditional white-vestment concoction that is the norm today.

  91. semper fi says:

    Black is the traditional choice for a Requiem and is the right choice

  92. Hidden One says:

    Interesting to note that black is now more than ten times more popular than the closest contender – which isn’t white.

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