POLL: What color vestments for your own funeral?

It isn’t too early to think about death.

Given the discussion that has grown from a question I answered, here is a WDTPRS POLL.

Choose your answer and give reasons in the combox. It would be nice to get lot’s of people giving their reasons.

So that people feel free to post, would you confine yourselves to posting about your own thoughts, rather than commenting on other people’s remarks?

Assuming you are Latin, Roman Catholic for your funeral what color vestments would you prefer?

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  1. nhaggin says:

    Black. When asked to explain twelve years ago, I would have answered “because it’s cool and edgy.” Today, I still answer “because it’s cool,” but also “because it’s our tradition.”

  2. irishgirl says:

    Black. I’d rather be ‘prayed for’ at my funeral Mass instead of ‘being canonized’.

    Black is more dignified.

  3. Rob Cartusciello says:

    This is so important to me that I am considering learning to make vestments to ensure that the ones worn at my funeral are tasteful and correct.

    As an aside, a friend of my parents led a meticulously organized life. He planned his entire funeral and kept it in a folder marked “The End”.

  4. Kevinbell says:

    I voted black. I want my funeral to be sober and dignified. I believe the black vestments will contribute significantly to that. The family can canonize me at the wake beforehand if they want but my requiem mass will hopefully be solemn.

  5. A. J. D. S. says:

    Black, for the same reasons as irishgirl. I’d like my funeral to be a moment of evangelization for everyone who attends—so they know that we pray for our dead. Then, I hope, they will pray for me.

  6. robtbrown says:

    Irishgirl nailed it.

  7. Gregorius says:

    It has been my experience that all too often- even in the most orthodox parishes in the diocese- funerals turn into celebrations of the person’s life. Often the person is said to have lived a full and happy life, and now they are going to meet Our Lord, and let’s not forget what good people they were in life. Now by no means am I trying to sound insensitive or downplay the greiving process. But I believe funerals such as these present an incomplete picture of the reality of death. It may seem silly to push a small deatail as the use of black for vestment color at my funeral, but I want everything at the Mass to make everyone, cradle-catholics to total strangers stop and reflect on death. I want to drive it home that they will all end up in a box one day. And most importantly, I want them to realize that death for the Christian is not the end. God willing I will most likely be having my sins burned off in purgatory for a really, really long time, and I need their prayers!

  8. danphunter1 says:

    Black, because it is the color for the Requiem Mass and that is what I will stipulate in my Last Will and tentacle, as my final earthly desire.
    It is most apropriate as the color of deepest mourning.

  9. Ben Yanke says:

    Irishgirl: Bingo.

    I also think: Why turn our backs on such a time-honored tradition?

  10. I checked “black,” since it’s what I would want if I were Roman Catholic. Since I’m a Lutheran, and black vestments aren’t prescribed by our rubrics … although neither are they proscribed … and since our rubrics are notoriously flexible in any case … yeah, you’ve sold me. Black it is.

    Now I just have to find some, buy them, and donate them to the church where my funeral will be sung.

  11. michelelyl says:

    White for me and Mass of the Resurrection!

  12. rakesvines says:

    White for the Resurrection – the core of the Christian faith. For if Christ has not risen, then our faith is in vain. My funeral is a teachable moment as I have friends who might go to Church that day but not any other day. Given that captive moment, I’d like the priest to teach about the core of our faith and proclaim the Easter mystery. The priest can then talk about the cross as the way to get there – but all in perspective. Even pre-Vatican doctors of the Church have emphasized the joyfulness of the faith because of this awesome reality. And while the Resucrrection may be the ultimate goal for my existence, I may have to still go through a lot of purification in Purgatory. So, be it. But taking about that hope is not my canonization. So, I beg to differ to those who posted earlier.

  13. CCS says:

    Black, but I’m going to have to figure out a way to ensure I get Catholic funeral/burial should my wife pre-decease me. That’s something I hadn’t even thought about, but as a convert, my family isn’t Catholic. As Fr. Z said, it’s not to early to start thinking about.

  14. Francis says:

    Black, of course. Quelle idée! Bingo Gregorius.

  15. At my funeral Mass, I would want white vestments to be used — a reminder to my family members and friends that, while my earthly life has ended, there is still life for my soul — hopefully in heaven.

  16. FranzJosf says:

    Black. But not only because my funeral will be a Traditional Reqiuem Mass.

    I found out of JPII’s death because I happened to be in New Orleans that day. As I walked through Jackson Square there was black crepe around the entrance to St. Louis Cathedral. (Ditto the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Mobile)

    Black has traditionally been the color to show respect toward the dead in the West. It is still so in the Deep South. For instance, it is considered bad form to wear a blue blazer and khackis to a funeral. Dark suits only.

  17. James Locke says:

    Perhaps this a bit pessemistic, but I want people to pray for me after am dead and not to simply ‘remember me’. Black would represent the solmenity of the event much better. I know not how I will be judged, but is safe to say that we dont deserve salvation.

  18. randomcatholic says:

    I want black. I think we always speak in hagiographical ways at funerals these days. I know I will need prayers.

    I would personally like a Solemn High Mass in the Extraordinary Form with black vestments for my send off. Yet, I don’t want people to be sad. I just want their prayers. And I want to be buried in the same Catholic cemetary down the street from my house as so many of my relatives are.

    And a reception. At least then I could bring people together.

  19. HighMass says:

    Ok All of us who want the TLM (Requiem High Mass) as I do, don’t forget the Black Pall, some funeral homes may still have them around, I know the one where I live does.

    Also the Three Candles on both sides of the casket. Luckly they didn’t get tossed in our Parish, but alot of other things did including the Black Cope, and Chausable.

  20. Mike Morrow says:

    A Roman Catholic Requiem Mass must use black vestments. The use of white imputes spiritual virtues to the deceased that are wildly and wholly inappropriate for a Catholic Requiem Mass. It also strongly suggests that the use of black in the Roman Catholic Church was wrong all those many centuries, but now personal enlightenment corrects that corruption from the past. That is profoundly arrogant.

  21. Sacristymaiden says:

    I voted black. Death is a solemn event and I would like my relatives and friends to make the most of my death in every way possible, which includes taking it seriously. Black is more serious than purple and purple is more so than white. Heaven forfend me from white. The intent might be sincere, but it is the color used for very joyful liturgical days. To me that just doesn’t fit with the seriousness of a funeral, as you don’t know: a) if the deceased has become a saint, or b) that the whole funeral is actually for the benefit of those left behind.

  22. kat says:

    Black, because it is the traditional color of mourning; because it reminds people that we do indeed need to pray for the dead; that we do not believe everyone gets a free pass to heaven; death is a punishment for sin.

    White has always been a color of spotless purity; hence the reason children who have not reached the age of reason got to be buried with white and a Mass of the Angels.

  23. I am glad people are posting their reasons. Good for you!

  24. Konichiwa says:

    I don’t know much, but I believe the color black is appropriate. To me, the color black is a sign that prayer is very needed. Also, it sets the proper mood and atmosphere. Among other reasons, I joined a FSSP parish as a step to ensure myself a proper funeral Mass and burial. The next step is to put my wishes in my will.

  25. Andrew says:

    Since I am not an infant who has died before the use of reason, (in which case white would have been appropriate) I prefer my funeral Mass to be celebrated in liturgical black. This is actually required in the Extraordinary Form (which EF would be my preference).

  26. Black, for the reasons stated by IrishGirl.

  27. TNCath says:

    Black for me because, while violet and white are permitted, black is the traditional color for death in both our liturgical as well as secular culture. For those who wish for a Mass of Resurrection, I do not believe that it is permitted to have funerals on Easter Sunday and no funeral Mass is considered a “Resurrection Mass” no matter who thinks otherwise.

  28. Ernesto Gonzalez says:

    I also chose black, and I would indeed prefer the Requiem Mass of the Extraordinary Form, precisely because of the freedom it grants mourners. I refuse to exert my will beyond the grave in order to tell my loved ones what to feel. While I do not want them to be sad or to suffer, grief is an intensely personal experience and I will not intrude. Even Job’s meddlesome friends knew enough to remain silent for seven days and nights.

    Yes, we need to grieve, death, though it has lost its most terrible sting, was in the beginning unnecessary. Yes, we should remember the need to pray for those who have died, for we can aid them. Yes, we should remember the hope of the beatific vision and the resurrection. All these needs are equally expressed in the Requiem Mass of the Extraordinary Form (black vestments and all). Indeed, they are all beautifully summed up in the entire Dies Irae.

    Confutatis maledictis, Flammis acribus addictis: Voca me cum benedictis.

  29. Christina says:

    I chose black, because it’s different from what most funerals use…although this probably won’t be a valid reason when I die, judging from the comments.

    I suspect that when I die, I will be more grateful for the things that remind others to pray for my soul rather than things that make my loved ones think I don’t need prayers. So, yeah, black vestments which will remind my loved ones of my need for prayers. Unless I’m martyred, I guess.

  30. Thomas in MD says:

    I don’t want to be celebrated I want to be prayed for fervently; black will hopefully remind folks to do that.

  31. nola catholic says:

    What, no red? No one wants to die a martyr for the faith? I guess the point of the poll was to see what you would choose, and since at this point many may not have that choice available to them, I can see how red, not being an optional choice unless the deceased were a martyr would make sense. I voted black for reasons mentioned above about tradition, evangelization, and respect. Still, on the off chance I died a martyr, I would unequivocally want red.

  32. Geoffrey says:

    I am one of the few who chose violet, mostly because it is the most realistic.

  33. Ef-lover says:

    I voted for black because I’m a sinner and need the prayers for God’s mercy on my soul

  34. Martial Artist says:

    I have a slight preference for purple over white. Black is somber, and certainly not inappropriate, but if one dies in “the sure and certain hope of resurrection” then is it not appropiate that one’s funeral Mass be a celebration of the hoped for salvation and resurrection of the departed. I think white or purple are equally fitting. Furthing that idea, the music I desire for my funeral would also be reverently celebratory, in an order deemed appropriate by the liturgist and priest:

    • — Eternal Father, Strong to Save (aka the Navy Hymn—I am retired Navy), set to the tune Melitta;

    • — Glorious Things of Thee Are Spoken set to Haydn’s tune Austria;

    • — Joyful, Joyful We Adore Thee, set to Beethoven’s An die Freude (Ode to Joy),; and (if permissible),

    • — the Kontakion, set in English to Orthodox Kievan Chant .

    I don’t for a moment entertain the thought that I will not spend time in purgatory, nor that I will be saved at the last judgment, nor that I do not ardently desire the prayers of those I leave behind. To do so would be the ne plus ultra of presumptuousness. But it seems to me that one of the best uses we might make of our funerals to communicate our faith to others is to demonstrate for them the joy attending the hoped for reunification with our departed brother or sister in Christ, while not excluding grief at our loss in this world. The service should at least equally celebrate the reward for which we hope and (ideally) for which we have strived by our service to the Lord. Everyone expects some amount of grieving on the occasion, but how many who are not Christian expect to see joyous hope and expectation?

    Pax et bonum,
    Keith Töpfer

  35. ExHic says:

    Definitely Black for those there do not know if one is in heaven so prayers are still needed.

  36. mmk says:

    I chose purple in the case of a Novus Ordo mass. I would certainly not want the white because of all the “canonizations” that go on at funerals. I have been singing for funerals regularly for the past 12 years and I often wonder if these people ever get prayed for again. I try to regularly remember these souls. Only once have I seen a priest wear purple and never black. I talk to families about the music for funerals and very few are where they should be. They want the funeral to “upbeat.” I have a few times sung an English translation of “Requiem aeternam” at the entrance. Both the organist and myself noticed that you could hear a pin drop after people heard these words ( which often get pushed aside with “Be Not Afraid” and “Eagles Wings”). Imagine what would happen if you added purple or black vestments.

  37. asophist says:

    I chose Black firstly because it’s traditional; secondly because it will remind any of my nearest and dearest who are present that I may, indeed, be in Hell and that they c0uld go there too if they don’t mend their ways – or that I will stay in purgatory for a very, very long time without their prayers. Black vestments at the funeral may be the only reminder to them that departed souls are in need of their prayers.

  38. Gregg the Obscure says:

    Black best conveys the gravity of the occasion and, in our culture, would provide a needed pedagogical touch. I’m not big on Taize music, but there’s one Taize piece that would fit a funeral perfectly: “Jesus, remember me, when You come into Your kingdom”.

  39. shadowlands says:

    Purple, because it is the colour of suffering and enduring, at least it is to me, and I need to embrace life on life’s terms, even at death. This is the chirpiest I get. I’d like the eulogy ( sorry if it’s the wrong word) to be on the last things, and I want the priest to offer everyone confession before he starts. Emphasis souls, eternity. Music wise, maybe “I arise today” St Patrick’s breastplate.
    Other than that, I’m happy to trust the Priest to do God’s will in the situation. Imagine that everyone, the priest who will conduct our funeral is somewhere, right now!! I think I’ll start praying for mine!

    Oh, and I don’t want anyone looking at me, dead. It would make me feel invaded and scared.

  40. doanli says:

    I have never seen black vestments in my life.

    And I’ve been to quite a few funeral Masses in my 46.75 years.

    I hope though that my garment will be white for the Lord when He calls me!

  41. Allan S. says:

    Initial Response: I’ll be dead, so…no preference. Won’t matter to me.
    Sober Second Thought: Kinda like the rose ones…but, OK black.
    Reality setting in: I attend a lefty parish which has been awesome in support of me, but there is ZERO chance anything other than white will be worn. The best, free black vestments in the world would never see the light of day (no pun intended. really.). It’ll be challenge to keep the liturgical dansers out of the “worship space”….

  42. patrick_f says:

    while I would prefer black – I chose violet for a couple reasons –

    While we cannot forget our past, we also need to look forward – White does give a canonization feel to the so called”mass of ressurection” , however, black, something just doesnt set right with me with black – but liturgically I get it – We have no real way as mortals to know what was on a person’s heart at the moment the breath of life left them

    That being said – As Purple is the Penitent color of the Church – I guess I would prefer it – I would rather people repent for the repose of my poor soul, and make amends to God on my behalf, rather then simply mourning me, or missing the mark and thinking I am automatically there. I cant help but to think that prayers, and fasting for my behalf, would carry merit to the Throne, and shorten my purgation(which.. I am sure I have earned every bit of)

    I almost could make an arguement that Black..to the outsider, is conterproductive to what we teach about purgatory – If one is in purgatory – one is on their way , its not a “trial heaven” that we get banished from

    You fix this debate easily, Reverend Fathers (and I am speaking in generality, not one priest in particular) – Properly teach the doctrine of purgatory to us laity, and this debate vanishes, because then we understand the truth about gift that is purgation.

  43. tzard says:

    I am not an expert, but I am only giving my own personal opinion here:

    I prefer black. Given a choice – for me and for my family.

    Color expresses things – I don’t think many except my immediate family would understand “tradition” from black, so that doesn’t come into play.

    For those at my funeral mass, I want them to be free to mourn. I also want them to pray for my soul. This is not against hope, but focuses what is most important AT THAT TIME. Mourning is also important for the well being of those in attendance.

    Purple would be a close second but focuses on perhaps their own pennance (important) rather than for me. Just a tad. White has been too much of a temptation for people and priests to think the dead already in heaven. I think it imprudent to choose white.

  44. I want black for the same reasons many people stated: because I want my funeral (solemn Requiem Mass in the Extraordinary Form) to be the occasion of meditation on the Four Last Things, and because I want to be prayed for and not canonized.

  45. I’m Ruthenian Byzantine Catholic, and I most definitely desire black vestments at my funeral. My current parish has no black vestments, however, so I should probably get busy and make a set soon. Not that I think I’m quite ready to clock out and go home, but that’s not up to me, is it?

  46. susanna says:

    Black – Our TLM priest has gorgeous black vestments, with the pall and candelabra cover etc. I have pre-arranged my funeral there (should I tell him?) I want to be seriously prayed for. Seriously.

  47. Jayna says:

    I would prefer black, but knowing how thin on the ground black vestments can be, I would be perfectly happy with violet. I actually told my priest that should I die before him (unlikely, given that he’s twice my age) and he celebrates the funeral, I will haunt him til the end of his days if he so much as thinks of wearing white.

  48. Luvadoxi says:

    Oh, yes! Red and martyrdom would be amazing! [If you are not a Pope, it is an abuse, and not an option.] I agree with patrick f that unless purgatory is preached more, black seems to convey to most people a rather despairing message. I chose white for the sure and certain hope of the Resurrection, but now I think I’d change my vote based on the comment about the way the NO mass of the resurrection is typically conducted. Also, I didn’t know about the children before the age of reason being buried in white. That clinches it for me….I’m not that innocent! So, if not red, by the grace of God, then purple….it sends the penitential message. Unless of course people think it’s for kingship. Then, uh oh. I want purgatory preached, and the four last things. And for music I’d love to have Panis Angelicus and– I’m sorry, but I love this–I Am the Bread of Life. But if they do On Eagle’s Wings I’ll come back to haunt them.

  49. revs96 says:

    I want the TLM, so this choice is simple enough.

    By then, I hope to be an FSSP priest, so I’ll be in purple, since I’m the one being judged and the priest, deacon, & subdeacon will be in black b/c they’ll be the ones in mourning. No one will he joyful at my death (hopefully-I might annoy a few people), so white isn’t necessary.

  50. Kent says:

    I chose white. Why? Well even though death is the end of this earthly life it is the beginning of a heavenly life (hopefully, if I mend my ways). Even though black would be a close second choice, white to me is the color of a birth to new life. Of course, I would also like “Joy to the World” and “Joyful, Joyful” as opening and closing hymns with Latin chanted Mass parts and “Adoro Te Devote” sandwiched in between. But alas, at our parish, they will probably ignore those requests and it will be “On Eagle’s Wings” and “Be Not Afraid” with Mass of Creation. And the homily should be directed toward those people who have not seen the inside of a church in years and don’t realize what the consequences are.

  51. Phil says:

    I chose black; and I would also leave behind in my will the wish to have a Solemn TLM for my funeral. God willing it should be abided by by those who remain behind.

  52. Anne C. says:

    I agree with Irishgirl and also with Kat: I definitely want black. (And I loved what the Lutheran Minister said!) But although he picked a different color, I agree with the end of patrick_f’s post:

    “You fix this debate easily, Reverend Fathers (and I am speaking in generality, not one priest in particular) – Properly teach the doctrine of purgatory to us laity, and this debate vanishes, because then we understand the truth about gift that is purgation.”

    We definitely need more teaching about Purgatory!!!

    BTW, I used Google Translate to see what Ernesto Gonzalez was quoting, and it said: “Doomed to flames of acrid unbounded, Call me with the blessed.” (I’m assuming that that’s close . . . !)

  53. Margaret says:

    I voted for purple. I would like to put everyone in attendance in a very Lenten, penitential frame of mind in hopes that they will be eextremely generous in offering prayer and mortification on my behalf. Too many folks in Sunny California would be too put off by black (if there were even any available) and in their false send of scandal, neglect the prayers I crave for my salvation. Self-interested, I know, but there you have it…

  54. ar_danziger says:

    Black please; it is traditional. Also, we can’t rush mourners ahead into the comfort of the Resurrection without making space to acknowledge the reality of death. It’s what I dearly love about our liturgical calendar. We have to take the time to go through Lent and really meditate upon Christ’s Passion before we are in the correct disposition to fully appreciate Easter.

  55. roamincatholic says:

    Black, all the way. Although a few mentioned the matching pall, and one mentioned the candlesticks… they weren’t explicitly mentioned to be UNbleached beeswax candles, which I would prefer.

    Father Z– given how rural the area is, would you care to come out and celebrate the Requiem? Perhaps a service should be started for those who desire a Solemn Requiem Mass– a database of priests who can be contacted to travel and do them? Black vestments, palls, and candles of the unbleached variety on hand, ready to go to the place where such an event should be had? Could be a real service to the Church, given all the other details that have to be figured out in a short time span after a death.

    I’d also appreciate it, (let it be a monument to my final wishes if I die) if my funeral were 3 days after my death, another requiem said on the 30th day, and each anniversary thereafter.

  56. Random Friar says:

    This time of year, the somber black color always reminds me of death.

    But that’s mostly because most of my Province is stationed around the Bay Area and the Raiders tend to be mathematically eliminated by now.

  57. Roguejim says:

    I choose black for reasons of vanity.
    It will lend a nice contrast to my deathly white pallor.

    Funeral vestment colors should be low on the list of “things I gotta do” for the Lutheran minister.

  58. Fr Jackson says:

    Black. The rubrics of 1962 don’t leave a choice of color.

  59. Pelicanus says:

    White on the basis that the sheer effrontery would probably raise me from the dead!

  60. Discipula says:

    Black. Besides the fact that it is traditional and solemn and most fitting I know my parish has black vestments and that they use them for funerals.

  61. SuzieQ says:

    Black. It fits better with the sadness of loosing someone. And although we shouldn’t mourn as though all hope is lost we also shouldn’t celebrate as though the deceased have been automatically ushered into heaven. Black is a good representation of that uncertainty… I want the priest to emphatically urge any who attend my funeral to NOT assume I am in heaven! Pray for me!

    If I hear “they are in a better place” one more time at a funeral …. how many souls languish in purgatory because nobody thinks to pray for them!?

  62. biberin says:

    I went with white. I would rather black than purple, but my parish has no black and I think both sets of purple that we do have look kind of cheap and generic. There is one set of white that is very dignified and beautiful. If I died today, I’d want those white ones.

  63. Jaybirdnbham says:

    I voted purple, because I love the penitential aspects of Advent and Lent. It would be a good reminder to those who survive me, that they should pray for me.
    I also like purple better than black, and am in a parish that does not have the TLM, and probably won’t any time soon. (Thankfully it’s a very orthodox parish, and the N.O. Mass is very reverently done.)

  64. black, I’m a sinner, I need prayers and that’s my argument. White everyone will forget me.

  65. darcy-wi says:

    I picked black, because it is a color reserved for the requiem and most appropriate. If I died today, the vestments would be the ones they always use at my parish, which are overall white but ornamented with a wide black stripe (with a gold design on it) down the center. I wish I had a picture to share. I believe they were designed to be a type of black vestment. There are matching ones for concelebrants, and a matching pall as well.

  66. dominic1955 says:

    White is an absolutely abhorrent choice for a Latin Rite funeral vestment unless it is for a baptized child who died before they reach the age of reason. Absolutely none of us were immaculately conceived and we will all most likely have the temporal punishments due to our sins confessed as well as venial sins to make amends for in purgatory. We need people praying for the repose of our souls (if we even managed to make it to purgatory), not commending us into our heavenly homeland and whatnot.

    Violet is not nearly as bad as white, but its still a bit off. Violet is the penitential color for the Roman Rite and the time for doing earthly penance has passed for the dead.

    Black is the only really appropriate color for a Latin Rite funeral, and that funeral should be a requiem. The Requiem Mass properly gives the authentic Catholic teaching on death, the new Mass funeral rites overemphasize resurrection at least in the way they get used most of the time. I’ve also seen black vestments in use amongst the Eastern Catholics and Eastern Orthodox and they look rather striking. That, in my mind, was definitely a positive “latinization”.

    Black lets folks properly mourn and thus its even very appropriate for the mourners themselves to wear black. It points out the fact that death itself is unnatural, God didn’t originally make us to die but death was introduced when our first parents chose sin. This is one reason death saddens and scares us-the separation of body and soul just “ain’t right”.

    Black also points out the necessity of being charitable with our works, prayers, offering of Masses, etc. to the Poor Souls, especially if the priests are doing their job in teaching the people about things like the Four Last Things, the particular and final Judgement, Purgatory, etc.

    One should also note that black vestments are almost always trimmed in gold and/or silver. This is the “silver lining” that points to hope in the possibility of happiness in heaven and being with God forever. That hope is a bit tuned down, but at a funeral (or Requiem in general) it is time to mourn and pray not for hoping that they’re in heaven.

  67. Andrew Phillips says:

    Black because I am not perfect and know I will need many more prayers after I’m dead. I hope it will remind everyone who attends that the journey isn’t over for me yet and I can not help myself.

  68. stilicho says:

    If actually given the choice, I would have to go with violet, considering the penitential aspect of that liturgical color.

  69. marypatricia says:

    I didn’t vote as there isn’t a choice of “Don’t know.”
    I’ll take what I get ( There won’t be any option!) as long as a Mass is said for the repose of my soul.
    However I remember the feelings of awe and solemnity on seeing the black pall and unbleached candles–it brought home the mystery and seriousness of death.
    On thinking about it I probably would choose black, partly for the message that it would give to the congregation–that we all need to stop and think about how we are trying to live our lives.

  70. Bornacatholic says:

    Black Vestments.

    Sadly, it appears that not a few think that the use of Black Vestments symbolically precludes the idea of salvation/glory.

    We appreciate readily enough the manifestation of God’s kindness when He forthwith bestows everlasting life on baptized children as soon as they leave this world, without any merit of their own. A corresponding mildness and utter generosity on His part in dealing with departed sinners is discernible in the burial rite for adults, although this is to some extent obscured by the grim character of certain prayers in the Requiem Mass and Office added in the course of the Middle Ages. The Church found it necessary as time went on to sound a somber note in the liturgy of the dead–notably by the addition of the “Dies Irae” and the legislation of black vestments–because men had grown too preoccupied with this life. Thus she used the occasion to rouse them from such spiritual sluggishness, and the grim aspects of death were brought into the foreground. She justified the new attitude, however, without giving up the joyful and festive character of former ages. Both tendencies persist in the funeral office as we have it today, yet it is to be feared that the more serious and threatening notes have captured the imagination of our people, rather than the ones which resound with joy, peace, and victory.


    The more one learns the more one falls deeper in love with our brilliant and holy Tradition.

  71. laurazim says:

    The comments grow more and more interesting. BLACK is the color for a Requiem Mass. Yes, purple (violet) is the color of Lent–but a funeral is not a liturgical season, so purple does not work. Yes, white is the color of purity and baptism, but unless the dead is known to be pure (as with the affore mentioned baptized children)–and since a funeral is clearly not a baptism–then white does not cut it. If you want a Mass said for your soul with the priest wearing a color that you like aesthetically, then arrange to have Masses said during those liturgical seasons after you’ve died, with the repose of your soul as the intention. It’s not that difficult, is it? You leave a note in your will, or you make your desires known at your parish office, etc.

    It’s great that people want to witness to their friends and family who don’t come to church for things besides funerals (and maybe weddings), but the point of the funeral Mass is not to evangelize the living; it’s to pray for the dead. Even people who don’t attend Mass regularly can understand that. A good homily, a somber Requiem Mass, and perhaps even BLACK VESTMENTS might just help get whatever point you’d like them to get across.

    If the priest wears black vestments on Good Friday to commemorate the Death of Our Lord, then for Pete’s sake, please let him wear black vestments to commemorate mine. Sheesh!

  72. Bornacatholic says:

    But that’s mostly because most of my Province is stationed around the Bay Area and the Raiders tend to be mathematically eliminated by now.

    LOL Random Friar. I have been a Raider Fan since 1960 and I still watch every one of their games (Direct TV) with interest because I never know how it is they will secure a defeat – whether by penalties, turnovers, missed filed goals, fumbles, interceptions, bad calls, etc etc.

    One of the great things about being a Fan of The Raiders is having had the rich and full pleasure of experiencing all the emotive states with none of the serious consequences.

    I mean, football is entertainment; it is not war or something existentially tragic – like Phylloxera.

  73. PaterAugustinus says:

    I would choose… both! I marked “white,” but that needs a context.

    Given the nature of a Christian’s death (i.e., as contextualized in the meaning and significance of Christ’s own death and resurrection), and the kind of good hope we should have that this soul will, sooner or later, be purified, perfected and divinized as a glorious son of God, white has traditionally been used for the actual funeral itself. This was the norm for quite some time in the Latin Rite, and the services for the Funeral – both Mass and Office, in East and West – do finally emphasize joy and hope, even amidst the confession of this world’s sorrows and vanity. On the funeral itself, then, I understand the theological appropriateness of taking the cue from the lesson of St. Paul at the Mass – “Brethren, we desire not for you to be sorrowful, like other men, who have no hope.”

    However, ongoing Requiem Masses are an inherent acknowledgment of the fact that souls are often still in need of purification and prayer. Therefore, all Requiems after the funeral Mass itself, are celebrated in black vestments. So, for my funeral I want white… but, for the memorials on the 3rd, 7th and 30th days, and for all other votive Requiems celebrated thereafter, for the feast of All Souls’ Day, etc., I would want Requiems for mine and others’ benefit, to be celebrated in black.

    And, though I would choose white for the day of my funeral, I don’t think that the joyful hope of that occasion merits “canonization ceremonies” for the deceased. That should never occur at funerals, unless perhaps some extraordinary soul has passed on in the unmistakable odour of sanctity. Even then, restraint should prevail. White vestments on the funeral day point to Christ, and they should merit encomiums, not for the deceased, but for the redemptive work of Christ, the fruits of which we hope for the deceased. But, all the sober realities of death and how we should live in this life, and the recognition that hereafter, Requiems will be celebrated in black for a reason, are all quite appropriate.

  74. jmoran says:

    I want black vestments at a TL Requiem Mass. If there is no one there but a holy priest to pray for me, that would be fine.

  75. Black— it’s a funeral. We’re in mourning. We wear black for mourning.

    Purple is used when we’re waiting for GOD— and I’m just one of His sheep
    White is for feasts and saints— and I am in no way, shape or form anywhere close to being a saint!
    So black for me :)

  76. cmm says:

    I don’t care what color is used, but I would like a priest to preside. I know it’s selfish because in my country (France) priests are few and overworked, but I would really like to have a Mass one last time for my funeral.

  77. sprachmeister says:

    I chose black. Last November while I was in France and attended the TLM every Sunday, plus a few days of the week (I still can’t believe how good I had it then!), I had given some serious thoughts to death reasoning that young people are certainly not immune to horrible diseases or, more frequently, to being run over, etc. It could happen at any time. Therefore I wrote out a sort of “will” for my funeral, with everything laid out (music especially! – no “On Eagle’s Wings for my funeral!) Black was certainly the option – it’s tradition, what more reason does one need?

  78. sejoga says:

    I want black because I want people to remember I’m a sinner who needs their prayers.

  79. PaterAugustinus says:

    It just occured to me to mention one major way, in which white is deeply rooted in the Tradition (and not just the long-standing tradition of using white) for funeral Masses (i.e., the first Requiem Mass, immediately following the individual’s death).

    In the Eastern Church, especially, there are many hymns about having a pure “wedding garment” when we die. Especially in lent, but also at funerals and other times, there are hymns bewailing one’s sins and the staining of one’s wedding garment, which is the baptismal garment of purity and innocence. For the Orthodox, it is the custom that the faithful are buried in their baptismal robe (or, if it is too small for them, they are buried with their baptismal garment next to them).

    These are always white robes, and they reflect the hope that the soul will be vouchsafed a pure garment on Judgment Day.

    The Latin Rite, too, has services for the dead which are suffused with the imagery of light (of which white is obviously the representative colour)… and, one old Collect, which we use for the funeral Mass, does recall the “unstained robe/soul” imagery, praying that “if any worldly vice has dyed him, or any stain of this passing age shall have sullied him, Thou wouldst pardon him and wash out the stain” (si qua eum saecularis macula inhaesit, aut vitium mundiale infecit, dono pietatis Tuae indulgeas et extergas). Similar wording is used in the prayer right before the body is placed in the grave.

    Using the white in this context is not an affrontery to God, nor a bold statement that the soul actually is pure and undefiled… it is a powerful recognition that this is the way it should be, and that with God’s grace this is the way it can and may be. It is at once a profound confession of our belief about the normative end of a completely Christian life, and a prayer in and of itself for God to grant the purity, the purification, the innocence, for which the soul hoped and for which it made greater or lesser efforts. It expresses the hope that, at the Resurrection, the white robe which has lain in the grave with us, and the white vestments the priest used at our funeral, will be mirrored on the Last Day by the purity of our wedding garment, constantly mended by God’s grace, and hopefully tended by our own efforts aided by God’s grace.

    In other words, I think it would be a mistake to conclude that it is somehow impious or inappropriate to wear white, if we understand it in the context of these customs, which are themselves witnesses to Holy Tradition. How can it be wrong to acknowledge in outward displays like white burial robes and vestments, the very whiteness, lightsomeness and purity from stain, which the hymns and prayers themselves invoke? Obviously, it cannot be – provided white is understood in a traditional way; that is why white was the traditional color of funeral Masses for a long time.

    Sobriety has a place too, however… and this is why, traditionally, black was reserved for subsequent Requiems. The funeral Mass itself points to the hope, and underscores the doctrine of what a Christian’s death should and can be (and, what we hope it actually is). But, subsequent Requiems inherently emphasize the sobriety, which tells us that ongoing prayer is often necessary. That is why they traditionally used black. The custom of using black at the funeral Mass came from this use of black at trentals and anniversary Masses, and was a later development.

    That’s not to say that all late developments should be rejected… but, a lively awareness of the development of traditions, I think, provides ample room for supporting white, which have nothing to do with modernist feel-goodery and the minimilization of death’s sober realities. While I don’t agree with everything that came from the Novus Ordo reforms, I do think that restoring white at funerals was a good move. White doesn’t say, “We’re sure that this dude was really super, and is totally rockin’ out with the Angels.” It says, “Our Christian hope is that every reposed, Christian soul, shall have found peace with its Maker, and shall have received from Him the grace to stand on Judgment Day in a pure, wedding garment; furthermore, we teach that this is the natural result of the Christian life when lived as it should be, and therefore white at a funeral is an affirmation of the Christian faith’s essence… the victory over death and the restoration of human innocence and perfection.”

    Though I welcome the restoration of white for funerals in the Novus Ordo, I don’t know if it has also mandated white for subsequent requiems, or if it retains black for those occasions. Certainly the absolute rejection of black for any and all Requiems, would be unforunate and unwarranted.

  80. I want black vestments for the simple reason that I have read the Funeral/Mass/Burial rites from the 1962 Missal and THAT is how I want to go! I want it to be abundantly clear that prayers for my soul are requested and welcome. I don’t want my wife to have to pick out music, and lectors, and communion ministers, and eulogists, etc.

    Black speaks to the appropriate awe before the mystery of death. White is the liturgical color for high feasts. There’s no way my death should be celebrated as a high feast! A priest once told me that it is charitable to presume that everyone dies and heads straight for purgatory. No color but black is appropriate for that insight. Mourn my death, but pray for me, for I shall surely need prayers.

  81. Black and Dies Irae! And only those who wish personally to test whether hauntings by the dead are indeed possible would even think of attempting to hum the tiniest section of On Eagle’s Wing….

  82. Rachel says:

    I hope for black vestments– somber and penitential– creates an atmosphere that will encourage the people to pray for me and encourage the priest not to canonize me.

  83. dominic1955 says:

    The pure “wedding garment” or baptismal garment is properly symbolized by the alb (which is very white, especially if the priest wears a plain linen one) or the sticharion in the East (which can be white), not the chasuble. Of course, the Easterners have their own customs, but in the West a funeral should be black.

    Since at least the time of Innocent III, black has been in use. Up until the fourth century or so, white was the only liturgical color at all according to Benedict XIV. In general, I think white is used to much anyway given that it is the automatic fall-back when you don’t have the right color. That’s probably what they starting thinking in the early days too, it must have been rather boring to have to use white for every single liturgical event.

    Regardless of the very ancient usages, black vestments have been the tradition of centuries upon centuries in the West. The recent introduction of white into Requiems/funerals is not a “restoration” but an innovation just like communion in the hand, Mass versus populum and the various other oddities plucked out of the supposed 3rd Century and foisted upon us by litniks with their own new spin.

    The custom of saying Requiems for the deceased in the 3rd, 7th and 30th day is gone in the NO, unless the priest himself is of that predilection that would even know of that custom. In the Western Church, practices like that have little or no meaning when practically all the funerals have become “Celebrations of Life”. While it is definitely true that the use of white at a funeral objectively speaking has no objective connection to modernist nonsense and liturgical craziness (mainly because the East does it) it also must be acknowledged that certain things have that taint on them because of the ways they were introduced, highjacked, promoted, etc. by said modernists/innovators. Many of these things are really part of the ancient practice of the Church, but because of their early “purity” or “rigor” they fit newer ideologies rather well. Witness the practice of all the main liturgical innovators in the Latin Church (Protestants, Jansenists, the new liturgical modernists/innovators) all looked to the perceived “Early Church” as their model probably because we do not know all the details from those times and its easy to make sweeping claims that this or that practice was done in the Early Church, was pushed out or hidden by later Medieval accretions and now above mentioned innovators are just trying to “restore” what was lost-with certain presuppositions based on their own ideological bent.

  84. boko fittleworth says:

    Celebrate ME!

  85. Mitchell NY says:

    I prefer Black because that is what was always used. It is pretty simple for me. If it is not broke why attempt to fix it. I want people to know this is a funeral, and I will need their prayers for my soul. I want no mistake that this is NOT a celebration of my life. That can be done at any other time. I would like my Funeral Mass to be solemn and I will explain the reasons why in a letter, instructions why I am doing things this way. I hope by my example, I will remind people what we are there to do for souls and for people who have no idea what this is all about, maybe my funeral will cause a shift in thought or practice in 1 or 2 people. That would be my greatest gift and probably the last thing I could do for my Catholic Faith. For after that my earthly influence will be gone.

  86. Mike Morrow says:

    I believe that the very small percentage of people choosing a liturgical color other than the proper black must NEVER have experienced an extraordinary form Requiem Mass. As a student at the local Catholic school, I served many such Masses prior to the Vatican II revolution. At a funeral, at least four boys would serve at the Mass, then attend at the graveside. The remaining boys and all the girls would form the choir for the appropriate Gregorian chant during the Requiem. We all did our best to properly serve the solemnity that a funeral Mass deserved. An absolutley essential part of establishing that solemnity was the black liturgical color. The liturgy was breathtakingly beautiful and it left a impression upon those in attendance that could be influential forever afterwards.

    The current stylish, “it’s-all-about-me-and-celebrating-my-importance”, “putting-the-fun-back-in-funeral” types of novus ordo services are an insult to centuries-old traditional Catholic practice, an insult to those in attendance, and especially…an insult to the deceased.

  87. Robertus Pittsburghensis says:

    Irishgirl did indeed nail it.

    Black for the resurrection, pace Rakesvines. The resurrection occurred in the cold pre-dawn hours of Sunday morning, when the night is darkest. Only by passing through the darkness of death will we be risen with Christ. This is the core of the Christian faith, and death is indeed a teachable moment.

  88. smcollinsus says:

    I voted Black.

    I want to make sure that my former in-laws do not hijack my Funeral. I will have documents!

    1. TLM, Solemn Requiem – I prefer organ accompaniment, but I won’t quibble.
    2. Said (Low) Requiem – I still get prayed for, especially with the “Dies irae”.
    3. And Anglican Use (or similar depending on the status at that time) sung or said, with the “Dies irae” somewhere, preferably as the Sequence.
    4. the N.O. “Rite of Christian Burial” – with as much dignity as possible. I know how difficult that is because it is so “Easter” oriented. Black or Purple would certainly be prefered to White.

    But here’s the clincher: If option 4 must be done in the contemporary “traditional” way, and there is anything but organ employed, or any “Praise” songs used, NOTHING of me will be in the building – not my body, not my ashes, not even a picture of me. They can have themselves some sort of “memorial” service. But they are not to even mention my given name. They can call me my sons’ father, or my ex-wife’s ex-husband, or anything they want – but not my name. I will have NOTHING to do with such a service!

  89. Tom Ryan says:

    It sure makes you wonder who is insisting upon grape and vanilla

  90. q7swallows says:

    The short St. Monnica-ish version:  I don’t care what you do with the carcass as long as you remember to offer Holy Mass for me.  

    But given a preference:  Black!  TLM Requiem with all the trimmings:  black pall, 6 candles, the works.  Plain pine box–closed–to not frighten children.  No eulogy (or half-hearted attempts).   No family “receiving lines” after Mass; I hate those! 

    Music if allowed:  “Dies Irae” and the hauntingly hopeful SATB version of “How Lovely is Thy Dwelling Place” and soprano solo of “Pie Jesu.”  My son to play his violin at some point–graveside if necessary.  One rose on the coffin.  In lieu of flowers, contributions for Gregorian Masses for my poor soul.    

    Not a few will be glad to see me depart this life (relatives soooo included), but it will be a good exercise in TRYING to pray for the dead.  

    jmoran:  Hearty ditto!


  91. PaterAugustinus says:

    I noticed above, that some people assumed white was an innovation and that the Extraordinary Rite’s funeral text was so somber as to all but require black. Only NO people could even think of white.

    I just want to point out that white was indeed used as the *traditional* color for funerals for quite some time (not just the early centuries, but also in the early to high middle ages), so I think it is dangerous to call it an innovation. Also, I would like to point out that our Latin Rite in the Orthodox Church employs the Sarum Use for the funeral services… which, if anything, is even more “Medieval” and somber than the Tridentine usage. We use white for funerals (albeit black for subsequent Requiems), and the traditional, sober tone of the funeral (and the Placebo, Dirige, etc.) is not diminished. Perhaps NO liturgists often abused white as happy-clappy and insipid, but white itself needn’t be. Also, just pay attention to the texts of the funeral service: hope, peace, light, refreshment, joy, purity…. these are all much MORE prominent themes in the texts, than death, judgment, horror sorrow. Both are represented, but the “white” themes predominate. This doesn’t mean the funeral should be saccharine, but that it should indeed be joyful and full of hope for the deceased. “Fratres, nolimus vos contristari, sicut ceteri, qui spem non habent.” Many even of the somber hymns give way to hope… the Offertory begins with “deliver them from the pains of hell and the jaws of the lion,” but gives way to “rather, let Holy Michael, the ensign-bearer, guide them into hallowed light.” Even the Dies Irae has bright moments – “Who absolved Mary and pardoned the thief, You have given me hope as well.” “Grant me a spot amongst your sheep, after separating me from the goats, placing me at Your right hand.”

    (note: I suppose the use of the Dies Irae may ramp up the penitential tone of a Requiem; the Dies Irae, however, was initially the Sequence for the first Sunday in Advent – when the Parousia was especially thought of in the Liturgical year. Funeral Masses did not have sequences until the Late Middle Ages, because Sequences were restricted to Sundays and Feasts. The Dies Irae came to the funeral after this point in time, and the venerable old Cistercian Use does not contain it. That’s not a judgment of the “correctness” of having a Sequence at the funeral Mass – different customs have prevailed in the past, do now prevail in the present, and will prevail in future – it’s just to point out that a Funeral Mass with a Dies Irae may indeed be better suited by black vestments, and a Funeral Mass without the Dies Irae seems very fine in white. By the way, I love the Sequence Dies Irae and sing it often… so, I’m honestly not dismissing it or diminishing its importance; I’m just saying that there is MORE room in the history of the Latin Rite, for excluding the Dies Irae and bringing out the white garments. Dies Irae+Black is a lovely and viable option, but No Dies Irae+White has a spotless pedigree of its own.)

    Finally, vestment colours were never really fixed at any point in time, though perhaps post-Tridentine Roman Uses have an adamantine color scheme. Even if that’s the case, there’s nothing to say that this colour scheme is going to remain fixed, or is the only appropriate scheme. The old rubrics in many dioceses called for the “most splendid” vestments to be used on high feasts, no matter what the color. Hence, one Sarum Use church used black vestments for Easter in the Middle Ages, because they had a very astounding set of vestments in this colour! Yellow was prescribed for confessors in some places, the Virgin Mary’s Feasts sometimes were accorded white and sometimes blue vestments, etc.

    I’m all for the Tradition being fixed on truly important points. One thing that occassionally distresses me about some corners of Catholicism, however, is the belief that whatever had crystallized by 1962 is the only honest-to-gosh-really-traditional option. I profoundly venerate the Tradition and utterly reject modernism… and it is because I revere Tradition, that I refuse to see 1962 (or any other year) as the indelible norm of liturgics.

    In other words, there are many good reasons for some Roman Catholics to prefer black and use the Dies Irae at a funeral. But, the awareness that things have been otherwise for the MAJORITY of the Latin Rite’s history, should give us some pause when we describe the normative, traditional practice for MOST of the Latin Rite’s history (i.e., until the High Middle Ages, and resuming again after Vatican II), as somehow inherently impious or untraditional or light-minded. If one wants to prefer black on reasonable grounds, more power to him; but he should not actually oppose white as inherently bad and unacceptable from any reasonable standard of Latin Rite piety. Let him prefer black if he wants, but not attack white. If he wants to oppose lavendar (or even blue or green), I understand. But, white simply has too strong and unstained a pedigree in the Latin Rite history, to be flatly opposed in a reasonable way.

  92. Robertus Pittsburghensis says:

    Pater Augustinus,

    Thanks for your comment. I would like to point out, however, that even today in the novus ordo, white is not the normative color for funerals; violet is, with black as an allowable substitute.

    In the US, and perhaps in other places, the bishops requested permission to use white. I do not know the US bishops’ motivation for doing so, but I doubt that it was reverence for liturgical antiquities. Certainly they have never shown any other sign of having such a reverence.

    Since you bring up ancient history, I’d like to point out that one of the older uses for black was at vigils like Christmas, Pentecost, and yes, Easter. We are an Easter people, which is just another reason why black is so appropriate at funerals.

  93. Mike Morrow says:

    I could never imagine a funeral Mass, nor any Requiem Mass, without the Dies Irae. Unfortunately, my father’s funeral eight years ago had to be performed as a novus ordo…with white vestments. There was and is no other choice in his parish. It was stunningly appalling, which is not the memory one should take away from a loved one’s last services.

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