A bishop, black vestments and refreshing commonsense!

Here is a great tweet from Most Rev. Thomas J. Tobin, Bishop of Providence in Rhode Island.

Fr Z kudos to Bp. Tobin – a BISHOP – for saying it.  Thank you.

Here’s the thing about libs.  They always demand that you deny common sense and facts – those stubborn things – right in front of your eyes.

Libs say: “Everything has been great for the last 50 years!  It’s springtime in the Church!”

Fact check, anyone?


Tell that to the IRS.

“White vestments are so wonderful and surely everyone goes straight to heaven!”

Uh huh.  Good luck with that.

When I die, and I will, please pray for me.  FOR me.  For God’s MERCY on me.  Please perform indulgenced works for me.  Have Masses said for me.  Please.


About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Thomas S says:

    I’ve been a priest for 2 years next month. For a year and a half now I’ve worn black at funerals, occasionally violet, never white unless forced into a concelebration when guys show up already vested in white. In a year and a half I’ve had a grand total of TWO people complain about the black. Both women of a certain advanced age, neither part of the immediate family, both on the grounds of “resurrection,” as if centuries of priests were denying the resurrection of the dead. Compliments are far more common. But mostly people don’t say anything at all about the vestments. They just thank me for a beautiful mass. Fathers, don’t be afraid to use black. The people won’t fight you. Most of them barely even know the responses, what clue would they have about vestments? You’re more likely to get disapproving comments from other priests, but I disapprove of their choice of Eucharistic Prayer II, so we’re even.

  2. Tomorrow we are attending the funeral Mass for my Pastor’s mom. I will be wearing black from head to toe. My Pastor has black vestments and I mentioned to him long ago that if I go before he does, I want him to offer Holy Mass in the Latin/Novus Ordo and wear his black vestments. :0)

    May Mrs. T.W. rest in eternal peace.

  3. Gerard Plourde says:

    The explanation I have received is that the white vestments are used to reinforce the teaching (also reflected in the Readings appointed for the Mass of Christian Burial) that those who have been Baptized and who die in the state of grace share in eternal life with Our Lord and are destined to enjoy the Beatific Vision. This would presumably include anyone who was afforded the Last Rites of the Church (Anointing of the Sick, Confession and Absolution, and reception of Holy Communion as Holy Viaticum, a long-established practice). We should remember that even those who are required to undergo the purification of Purgatory are destined for the reward of Heaven.

  4. exNOAAman says:

    And it wouldn’t hurt to have some skull and bones candlesticks either.
    Thanks for posting this Father; I would never have expected it.

  5. Pío Pío Pío says:

    Father, are you aware of any resources available for someone who wants to try their hand at liturgical vestments? I’ve done some internet research trying to find stuff and I found a bit, but was disappointed I couldn’t find more. I would give almost anything to be able to bring more majesty to the Mass by taking up vestment making. Surely some of your readers, if not you, must know about some resources. Share your knowledge!

  6. New Sister says:

    where can we find a good template for a printed program for a full traditional funeral Mass & burial?

    I want to get my funeral fully planned out now so that, even if it be 50 years from now, my very dear [left-coast!] family doesn’t have to decide anything… they’re novus ordo & just don’t know any better. Having to execute this last wish would be a hidden grace ~ for 99.2% of them, it would be their first Traditional Latin Mass.

  7. @ Pio I did a search for you; try here https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/trad_vest/info
    “This group is for people who sew traditional vestments to be used by Catholic priests. It is a place to share ideas, look for help and share our accomplishments.”

    You can ask here as well

    “Check out St. Benet’s Guild online. The lady at Holyfrocks1@yahoo.com is so helpful with all things Latin vestments. She can direct you to good patterns that will fit. Aside from her business which is making vestments, she has an interest in encouraging others to sew.”

    Hope this helps

  8. Nan says:

    We pray for the repose of priests would at the end of the liturgy if a priest had recently died. As the westernmost outpost of the Eparchy, we can still pray, although going to a funeral would be difficult due to distance.

  9. Sword40 says:

    Pio Pio Pio,
    About 10 years ago I found a group of Nuns, back east that had materials, and patterns for making Roman and Gothic vestments. But for the life of me, I can’t find their website in my “favorites” list. I’ll keep searching.

  10. majuscule says:

    May the family request black vestments? I’m not sure if any of our priests has a personal set and I’d bet the church doesn’t have one in the sacristy. In the abscence of black could the family request violet? Or is it up to the priest?

    I was fortunate when my mother died that we had a parish priest with a set of black vestments and the ability to offer a TLM Requiem Mass.

  11. Sword40 says:

    Pio Pio Pio,

    I found the site;

    I purchase fabric, pattern and all items necessary to make vestments. My daughter actually sewed them for our priest.

  12. Bthompson says:

    In my experience (a priest who likes to sew when I get get chance), tracing onto paper (I like brown craft/shipping paper) old vestments that have passed their usable life is a great way to get a feel for how the parts fit together, create your own custom patterns that you can modify, and get a sense of what sorts of decoration would be worthy for a given vestment.

    Though, admittedly I use this method mainly from necessity, since patterns are scarce, as you say.

  13. Elizzabeth says:

    Pio Pio Pio, I am a seamstress in the UK, and have, in the last few years, started making vestments when requested to. I have found the best way to learn about their construction is by taking old ones apart (I have been asked to restore a few, so have learned a lot this way.) You have to bear in mind, there are a lot of cheaply, and poorly made vestments around, so if you want to do it well, then you will need to be able to buy in costly fabrics and trim, and have excellent sewing skills! In the UK there is The guild of St Clare http://www.guildofstclare.org/2018/02/lms-vestment-repairs.html?m=1
    where one can sometimes help with repairing old vestments – another good way to learn; perhaps there is something similar in the US?
    If you can do fine embroidery, there may be folk who make vestments who would wish to purchase your work to piece in to them.
    If you would like to email me I would be happy to answer any queries, you can contact me from my blog, https://zeliesroses.blogspot.co.uk

  14. Atra Dicenda, Rubra Agenda says:

    If I hear the phrase “New Springtime” uttered by a bishop again to describe the last 50 years, I might rupture an aneurysm.

  15. LarryW2LJ says:

    Back in the 90’s my uncle and cousin had a priest from Poland come and visit with them for a about a month . He was a distant cousin on my aunt’s side of the family (my uncle and my mom were siblings). Anyway, while he was here, he attended a funeral of a friend of my uncle. He was quite taken aback when he saw the white vestments at the funeral. In Poland, black is still the standard. well, at least it was in the 90’s and being Polish myself, I am highly suspect that that has changed any.

  16. iPadre says:

    When I was ordained 25+ years ago I wore white, due to the overwhelming pressure/ persecution from fellow priests. (For choosing a legitimate option) I gradually went to violet. And for a number of years now black. I even have four matching chasibles and two matching Dalmatia if the need arises, much to the chagrin of visiting concelebrants. But if I am a visiting priest, I accept the celebrant’s legitimate options.

  17. Ellen says:

    Our parish recently got some black vestments and some awesome rose ones as well. The priest wore black at my parent’s funeral and I pray he does at mine. The only time I can see the use for white, is if the deceased was a child. A few years ago, a family in our parish lost their daughter in a traffic accident. The priest wore white.

  18. Antonin says:

    Because the emphasis is in the promise of the resurrection and Christ’s triumph over the enmity if mankind – death. There was a debate in the Patrisitc period around what the fall meant – but it centered around either the consciousness of it or reality of it

    Paul’s letters abound with universal Christology

    White is an appropriate culture and the funeral liturgy itself states “life has not ended – its changed”

    This is our hope – the hope of the resurrection

  19. ServusChristi says:

    Father Z, I’m part of a Facebook group called ‘Catholic discussions’ and there’s literally every stripe of Catholic in there, from progressives to sentimental, traditional and even those utter heterodoxy, I think you might want to check that out, it represents us millenials quite well.

    For example, a person writes in response to Bishop Tobin: “It’s up to the priest/bishop to lead the faithful to look beyond that which is earthly. It shouldn’t be a disconnect, the good bishop should have helped the faithful make the connection, not the disconnection. We mourn, thus we wear black; we use white because death was rendered powerless by Christ.” Last I checked, black was a symbol of mourning of loss and the dead which is why its worn on All Souls’ Day, Good Friday.

    I have many more things to say about the above ‘discussion’ such as the mass being referred to as a meal with no reference to the sacrifice but I’ll be able to invite you if you wish. Not a day goes by without someone saying something which sounds questionable to Catholic ears.

  20. grumpyoldCatholic says:

    I have served at Requiem Mass several times. the one before this mess of Vatican 2 We even had a special altar missal for it. it was in extraordinary form but different. different rubrics The prayers at the foot of the alter had no Judica and no Gloria. the vestmenta were always black. Maybe they should bring back this Mass. PS there was even a special Mass for a priest. Over at Rorate Caeli there is a purgatorian society that you can join for free. I believe they say this Mass for the dead

  21. When my father passed away several years ago, I represented the family, and was MC for the funeral Mass. I made it clear to the pastor that the operative guide for the proceedings was to be one of “weeping, wailing, and gnashing of teeth.” (Yes, I used those words.) We got nearly all that we wanted (including a ban on “altar girls” to accede to my father’s once-expressed wishes), but for the use of dark vestments. Yeah, I lost that one.

    It seems that the white funeral pall was part of a matched set with the white “Coronation” style vestments for the priest and deacon (produced by Slabbinck). I was further regaled by the parish deacon with some convoluted theory about the prevailing theme for Catholic funerals in the official liturgical reform, which I could have refuted easily by asking him to cite the relevant portion of the GIRM, but by then I was tired of arguing.

    Besides, what man with any sense of style wants to break up a matched set?

    man with black hat: The Long and Reverent Farewell

    I suppose I could have made the case that Slabbinck makes the same “Coronation” set in violet, so at least the ornamentation would match the pall, but then I’d have to donate the vestments. That wasn’t feasible until more recently, when my mother passed away, but instead I replaced the hymnals in the pews as a memorial to my parents. They were more likely to be used anyway.

    Money talks, if you know what they’ll listen to.

  22. Nathan says:

    For those of us who would wish to receive the TLM Requiem Mass and the traditional rites of the Church when we die, it ‘s a very good idea to plan, plan, and plan well in advance. In a number of cases, neither family nor funeral directors nor the local parish will know what to do or have the resources. I’d recommend:

    -Putting your wishes explicitly in writing and making sure your survivors know where it is. Specify the TLM Requiem Mass with black vestments and whether or not you desire the traditional Office of the Dead and burial as well. Give your survivors points of contact for priests, musicians, and funeral directors who know about and are able to comply with your wishes.

    -Unless you wish your funeral TLM Requiem to be said in an exclusively TLM location such as FSSP or ICKSP, provide the parish and priest who you would like to offer the rites with a written copy or your wishes and make sure that they are on board to help fulfill them. There are a number of parishes I’ve seen that regularly offer the TLM that do not have black vestments or a catafalque with candles or a black pall.

    -You may also need to preplan with the schola director to provide the chant for a TLM requiem High Mass.

    I don’t intend to sound morbid, but the full traditional rites of the Church for the dead are still relatively rare and well-intentioned priests and parishes sometimes have to really scramble to offer these rites if not provisioned well in advance.

    In Christ,

  23. ReadingLad says:


    May be helpful for those either anticipating arrangements for a Traditional funeral, or faced with organising after the bereavement and unsure what it might entail. It reflects practice in England and Wales, but the linked booklet is very helpful in describing options and their implications. If you find it useful, please consider supporting the work of the LMS in E&W.

  24. Arele says:

    I just started cantering at funerals at my new Novus Ordo parish (we just moved to Utah) and was surprised to see the priest and deacon in white vestments. (I am surprised in general to see the deacons wearing the same vestments as the priests on Sundays too, but that’s another subject.) In any case, I and the accompanist come wearing black, as do all of those in attendance at the funerals – black or dark colors.

    So, this is timely!

    That being said, the priest and deacon do a wonderful job officiating, which is awesome!

    Thanks for the clarification!

  25. Hb says:

    As a priest for nearly 8 years, I have never worn anything other than black for funerals & All Souls Day, both Novus Ordo as well as TLM. My only experience of disapproval has been the horrified looks or comments from the happy-clappy generation of priests when they hear about or see the black vestments. The laity are usually clueless or appreciative. Go figure.

    It would seem incongruous to demand that people act overtly happy when their loved is in a box in the aisle next to them. Yes, some priests have actually stated in the homily that the people should be happy because x, y & z. People deserve the opportunity to mourn. In a more genteel era there were specified timeframes for that mourning. Black is the traditional color for mourning and is an acknowledgement by Holy Mother Church that those in the pews are mourning and she too mourns in solidarity with them. That doesn’t preclude the virtue of hope. We can certainly have a hope of heaven while we mourn and work through our sadness. The priest can assist those mourning to see through their pain of loss

    Nowadays especially with non or barely practicing Catholics, the goal seems to be to have things at a “convenient time” even if its months after the death and to do it as quickly as possible.

    Thank you Bishop Tobin.

  26. Kathleen10 says:

    In 2011 my mom passed and her funeral arrangements came pretty much to me. I had little idea besides I wanted her to have a Requiem Mass. We were attending a church that only had the NO Mass, but we had what I now know was a priest with a traditionalist bent. He was fantastic, and everything I asked for, was done (as much TLM as a NO church could instill). The priest wore black, he prayed some parts in Latin. I looked up everything a Requiem Mass should have, typed it out and gave it to Father for his approval. He approved. I typed out the prayers in Latin on one side and English on the other to help the family and friends. I asked Father to keep the focus on the fact that prayers for her soul were the point. My heart was broken but the Mass consoled me greatly. I can’t remember if I asked Father to wear black but I hoped he would, and he did. Black is the color of mourning, and today people want to skip over the mourning and get to the party. I’m from an Irish family so I get it, and we do that too, but the Mass has actual effects on the deceased person’s soul, as I understand it, and I want that for my loved one. I generally dislike “celebrations of life”.
    You can party like the Irish later, but have a proper Mass first. Say the prayers that help that soul get into heaven if they need it, and remind their loved ones to always pray for their soul and never stop. I find it horrifying how many people don’t even have a Holy Mass for their loved ones now.
    Bishop Tobin is an example of a fine and faithful Bishop. God bless him.

  27. tho says:

    About 4 years ago I prepaid my funeral with my funeral director. He drew up the expenses for my wife and I, wherein I stipulated a Requiem Mass with black vestments. The only church that offered the TLM was also stipulated.
    Having been to so many funeral masses where the deceased was guaranteed to be in heaven, it made me wonder about the existence of hell and purgatory. There are exceptions I am sure, but Novus Ordo funerals are much too informal to suit me.
    The funeral masses of my early years were solemn and dignified, and the black vestments lend to that solemnity. And don’t even mention the nonsensical eulogies about how well the deceased played second base and cared about stray dogs.

  28. Alexander Verbum says:

    “But it is neither wise nor laudable to reduce everything to antiquity by every possible device. Thus, to cite some instances, one would be straying from the straight path were he to wish the altar restored to its primitive tableform; were he to want black excluded as a color for the liturgical vestments; were he to forbid the use of sacred images and statues in Churches; were he to order the crucifix so designed that the divine Redeemer’s body shows no trace of His cruel sufferings; and lastly were he to disdain and reject polyphonic music or singing in parts, even where it conforms to regulations issued by the Holy See.”

    -Pius XII, Mediator Dei

  29. stephen c says:

    Father Z, thanks to you I am twice as good at Latin as I was when I started reading your blog.

    I am not good at memorization but I have memorized the “memento etiam” and I say it (with recognition that it is better said at the altar ) – on average, fifty times a month, in memory of those who have passed on. (because I am not a priest, I humbly drop the ‘etiam’ – so it starts, simply, as a layman’s prayer: Memento Domine famulorum famularum nostrorum qui nos praecesserunt, etc.)

    Out of gratitude, in the event I outlive you and still remember that prayer, I will say it with your name often!

    ad multos annos! … but more importantly … locum refrigerii, lucis et pacis … in aeternam !

  30. Discerning Altar Boy says:

    So blessed to say that I’ll live seeing His Excellency later today! He’s coming to bless our new windows in our Catholic Center Chapel. I forget how truly blessed we are to have Bishop Tobin here in RI.

  31. Raymond says:

    Here is a link to Robert F Kennedy’s funeral in 1968, during that transition time between the end of V2 and implementation of the NO:


    At 03:40 you could see the presiding bishop in a purple chasuble and another one in a violet cope.

    My question is: when did the American clergy adopt this sentimentalist, white funeral practice?

  32. tzabiega says:

    When my father died last year, I found out that indeed my parish (a Novus Ordo parish, but conservative) has black chasubles, but the priests are afraid of wearing them unless they are explicitly asked by the family to do so for the funeral Mass (the bishop here is Cardinal Cupich, so I can understand the fear). Fortunately, they had a handful of black chasubles, so when the liberal priest from my mother-in-law’s parish showed up with his white chasuble, my parish priests did not have to accommodate, but simply gave him the extra black chasuble to wear (I was afraid he was going to report it to Cardinal Cupich, since he was a close adviser to him, but nothing happened). Maybe people should consider buying and donating black chasubles (at least 2 to accommodate visiting priests with white chasubles) to their parishes if they don’t have them (I am sure most threw them out after Vatican II).

  33. maternalView says:

    I did not know that the black was controversial but I think they are quite beautiful with the gold embroidery on the black.

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