Funeral Vestment Color Preference


#1

As I was paging through the breviary I ordered that just arrived today I came across the Office of the Dead and was subsequently thinking about funeral vestment colors. I wanted to know what everyone else preference was to the color of the funeral vestments. Personally I prefer black since it emphasizes the mourning atmosphere/spirit and therefore I think fosters praying for the deceased. I don't have a huge problem with purple but I think black does a better job. As far as white goes, I think it gives the impression that the person instantly went to Heaven and isn't in purgatory or God forbid hell and thus discourages praying for the soul if they are in purgatory.

God Bless,

Zooman


#2

I think it is generally offensive to Western customs, history and culture to wear white or any bright color, like pastels, to a funeral. And I suppose I will stick in the socially-required disclaimer because I am sure somebody will be crafty enough to spend five minutes thinking of an exception to my post ( =D ) about religious wearing potentially brightly colored habits, which is fine.

Western people do not associate brightness and lightness with death, we associate it with positive things like birth, life, and saintliness, especially in the Church. So there is an enormous tradition of wearing dark colors, and usually black, to funerals in the West. This is respectful and in a way keeps the attention on the deceased, which in the context of a Catholic funeral is to pray for him or her. And while it is positive for the soul of a dead person to finally meet Christ, the symbolism of white within the Church points much further than that, namely, canonization.

So I think it is bad to wear white to a funeral. It implies some presumption.

I am fine with violet but I still think black is better for the reason that violet is a penitential color and funerals are not exactly "penitential" events, but there is an element of that.

Whatever happens in non-Western cultures regarding this is their business and I am perfectly content with them doing what fits properly in those cultures for death.

PS I think it would be extremely offensive to wear a gold chasuble to a funeral.


#3

And while it is positive for the soul of a dead person to finally meet Christ, the symbolism of white within the Church points much further than that, namely, canonization.

This is exactly my problem with white, it goes beyond death and into the implication of sainthood.

I am fine with violet but I still think black is better for the reason that violet is a penitential color and funerals are not exactly "penitential" events, but there is an element of that.

Again I agree. For me it's a bit hard for me to make the connection between penance and funerals. Funerals are somewhat penitential in nature but black just gets the point through better.

PS I think it would be extremely offensive to wear a gold chasuble to a funeral.

This I totally agree with but I just included since it is considered a "shade" of white and technically is considered white. I have heard of it being used in a funeral only once or twice.


#4

[quote="Zooman77, post:1, topic:341910"]
As I was paging through the breviary I ordered that just arrived today I came across the Office of the Dead and was subsequently thinking about funeral vestment colors. I wanted to know what everyone else preference was to the color of the funeral vestments. Personally I prefer black since it emphasizes the mourning atmosphere/spirit and therefore I think fosters praying for the deceased. I don't have a huge problem with purple but I think black does a better job. As far as white goes, I think it gives the impression that the person instantly went to Heaven and isn't in purgatory or God forbid hell and thus discourages praying for the soul if they are in purgatory.

God Bless,

Zooman

[/quote]

I have to say, I have no idea. Yep, I don't think it matters. At least not to those that were close to the deceased.

I can honestly say, that I have no idea what color the priest wore for the funerals of my parents. I didn't notice. Or if I did notice, it wasn't something that I remembered.

So, black, purple or white. It doesn't matter to me. That isn't where my focus is.


#5

I much prefer white because it's counter-cultural (see above), and has NOTHING to do with the person that has died, and EVERYTHING to do with Christ's resurrection.:thumbsup:


#6

I can only dream that the parish I die in will have a set of black vestments.


#7

As a personal preference, I like the idea of black vestments for a Requiem Mass (even though I know that I'm in the minority in my diocese). I agree with what some people here have said about white for funerals (implying that the deceased went straight to heaven and bypassed purgatory, therefore seeming to eliminate the need for prayers for the repose of the soul).

I've made my preferences for my funeral known in years to come, and I hope that when the time finally comes from my Requiem Mass to be said, there is a priest who'll still know the Extraordinary Rite.


#8

[quote="triumphguy, post:5, topic:341910"]
I much prefer white because it's counter-cultural (see above), and has NOTHING to do with the person that has died, and EVERYTHING to do with Christ's resurrection.:thumbsup:

[/quote]

Then why don't we just go ahead and say that about every Mass and in the process just stop liturgical colors all together since, hey, every Mass is about Christ's Resurrection and just wear white and that's it? And in the process get rid of saints days and ritual Masses all together and just have every day be "Easter, Easter, Easter, Easter, Easter?"


#9

[quote="YoungTradCath, post:8, topic:341910"]
Then why don't we just go ahead and say that about every Mass and in the process just stop liturgical colors all together since, hey, every Mass is about Christ's Resurrection and just wear white and that's it? And in the process get rid of saints days and ritual Masses all together and just have every day be "Easter, Easter, Easter, Easter, Easter?"

[/quote]

Because not every day are we celebrating the life and death of a loved one, and in the face of such a death and loss we celebrate the triumph of the Risen Lord.

That's why the funeral liturgy echoes the baptismal liturgy in many ways.

Now you can choose to remember the shortness of all our lives, the power of death and the innate sinfulness of every person, or you can choose to celebrate Christ's victory over death and his promise of eternal life.

At a funeral for a loved one I know which would be more appropriate.


#10

[quote="Zooman77, post:1, topic:341910"]
As far as white goes, I think it gives the impression that the person instantly went to Heaven and isn't in purgatory or God forbid hell and thus discourages praying for the soul if they are in purgatory.

[/quote]

We are the Universal Church. In some cultures white is the colour for funerals. I think of Korea for instance, where white is the colour used for funerals or when there's a death in the family. The Church has to respect all cultures including Asian ones. In Korea, black is the colour of power and success (all CEOs of companies big and small, for instance, drive black cars), and would be inappropriate for a funeral.

We can't look at the Church just from a Western and European perspective now that she's outgrown those borders (and indeed is growing fastest outside those borders). Which is why I think it's probably wise to have different choices available to suit different cultures, rather than try to impose a uniform culture in places where, for instance, a different colour than white for a death might be seen as offensive.


#11

[quote="OraLabora, post:10, topic:341910"]
We can't look at the Church just from a Western and European perspective now that she's outgrown those borders (and indeed is growing fastest outside those borders). Which is why I think it's probably wise to have different choices available to suit different cultures, rather than try to impose a uniform culture in places where, for instance, a different colour than white for a death might be seen as offensive.

[/quote]

Personally, I'm not big on the whole "inculturation" thing (as far as I'm concerned it's become far too overblown and overused in the post-conciliar era), but this is one of the case where I happen to agree about accommodating different cultures. But leaving "open options" in what rubrics rubrics exist for the Novus Ordo is not, IMO, the way to go about it. The rubrics have to set a standard, but where the bishops of a particular country or even region collectively determine that the "standard" is inappropriate for their area and an indult is needed for a contrary practice, by all means, let them submit that to the Rome. It will be granted for their use, but that will not affect the "standard" elsewhere.


#12

[quote="OraLabora, post:10, topic:341910"]
We are the Universal Church. In some cultures white is the colour for funerals. I think of Korea for instance, where white is the colour used for funerals or when there's a death in the family. The Church has to respect all cultures including Asian ones. In Korea, black is the colour of power and success (all CEOs of companies big and small, for instance, drive black cars), and would be inappropriate for a funeral.

We can't look at the Church just from a Western and European perspective now that she's outgrown those borders (and indeed is growing fastest outside those borders). Which is why I think it's probably wise to have different choices available to suit different cultures, rather than try to impose a uniform culture in places where, for instance, a different colour than white for a death might be seen as offensive.

[/quote]

Well we're not in Korea. Koreans can wear white if that is their culture. But I rather, in Western cultures, have black. It sets the focus. If I was in Korea, white would be my preference. But I'm not.


#13

[quote="OraLabora, post:10, topic:341910"]
We are the Universal Church. In some cultures white is the colour for funerals. I think of Korea for instance, where white is the colour used for funerals or when there's a death in the family. The Church has to respect all cultures including Asian ones. In Korea, black is the colour of power and success (all CEOs of companies big and small, for instance, drive black cars), and would be inappropriate for a funeral.

We can't look at the Church just from a Western and European perspective now that she's outgrown those borders (and indeed is growing fastest outside those borders). Which is why I think it's probably wise to have different choices available to suit different cultures, rather than try to impose a uniform culture in places where, for instance, a different colour than white for a death might be seen as offensive.

[/quote]

Well, sure, you have hit on something, but that is only half the story. Of course white is the color of mourning for many Asian cultures. However, I am not Korean. As offensive as it may be to shove black down the throats of Koreans at funeral Masses, I think it is equally offensive to shove white down the throats of Westerners at funeral Masses.

In accommodating to genuine and legitimate cultural differences we often just swing from one extreme to another and there is no accommodation, just a dictatorship in another direction. It's kind of like reverse racism.

Then some might say, "Let the family pick." Then I would point out that the cultural use of mourning colors would then lose all meaning! =p


#14

I hate black vestments. Seriously. I do not want them at my funeral.


#15

I don't care. I am not going to be there anyway.


#16

I voted for black but honestly, I don't remember the color of the vestments worn at my grandpa's funeral -- and this was a big milestone in my conversion, as well.


#17

"One would be straying from the straight path ... were he to want black excluded as a color for the liturgical vestments." --Mediator Dei no. 62


#18

GENERAL INSTRUCTION OF THE ROMAN MISSAL
Besides violet, white or black vestments may be worn at funeral services and at other Offices and Masses for the Dead in the dioceses of the United States of America.


#19

[quote="Ad_Orientem, post:17, topic:341910"]
"One would be straying from the straight path ... were he to want black excluded as a color for the liturgical vestments." --Mediator Dei no. 62

[/quote]

You make it sound like one is veering from the path of righteousness taking this out of it's context like you have done. He is not talking about an individual's personal preference.

Here is the whole paragraph:

  1. Assuredly it is a wise and most laudable thing to return in spirit and affection to the sources of the sacred liturgy. For research in this field of study, by tracing it back to its origins, contributes valuable assistance towards a more thorough and careful investigation of the significance of feast-days, and of the meaning of the texts and sacred ceremonies employed on their occasion. 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.

He is talking about an excessive desire to return to antiquity.


#20

This is one of the few polls I am happy to see on this forum. I can certainly see how it is cultural, some cultures would prefer white, but the option is almost never mentioned in the USA and the color is almost always white, to the point that is what people thing the Church requires. It is wrong. The funeral mass is a prayer for the deceased and it serves a secondary purpose of the Church showing solidarity with the family. Treating the funeral as some type of celebration is heartless and wrong in many cases.

I do not understand how the Church got so far off the path of basic pastoral thought when it comes to funerals.


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