Wednesday, June 27, 2012


At another blog, whose name will go unmentioned, a controversy was begun when it was reported that a certain bishop of a certain Wisconsin diocese had mandated that from here on out violet or black vestments must be used for funerals, I mean, Requiems.

It turns out that it was hysterical reporting based upon eye-witness rumors. Sadly, it wasn't true, but it made for some good hysterical comments showing the adolescent attitudes toward authority which seem to grip so many who are nostalgic for the 1970's.

But what if it were true? Or better yet, what if a certain pastor in a certain small southern city in a certain diocese where a certain novel, "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil"which was set in the diocese's namesake, and said pastor who has an eccentric, eclectic blog allowed for options for funerals, I mean, Requiems, such as what is listed in the "rubrics" for the appropriate liturgical color, violet, white or black? What would you choose?

We all know that in our American culture there is denial of the grief that death brings about, denial about judgment, denial about purgatory and outright denial about hell. There is also a denial about the goodness of the body, now tattooed and pierced to the nth degree and not in the most visible places either. Bodies are cremated and the ashes are lucky to be given a Christian interment. Usually these are left with the funeral director to dump, or placed in a closet or put in a weird urn and kept in odd places. And to make matters worse, the Church is now enabling this contempt for the body.

I've had parishioners who are "bereaved" tell me that they want happy, peppy,uplifting music at the loved one's funeral, I mean, Requiem. Sing me no dirge!

What we (I) have done at St. Joseph Church is to narrow the choices for adjunct hymns, required that the official Introit, Offertory and Communion antiphons be sung.

At the Final Commendation, there are only three official chants as music selections and these are all the official chants that are in the funeral, I mean, Requiem ritual.

The recessional must be "May the Angels Lead you into paradise..." either in Latin or a contemporary English version. (The contemporary English version is the big hit and no one asks for a substitute hymn anymore.)

I encourage that any eulogies by laity be given at the Vigil for the Deceased at the funeral home and once the Vigil Prayer Service is concluded. If a family insists, though, I will only allow one person to offer a eulogy at the Requiem and that person must be a believing,practicing Catholic.

And we now give the bereaved the choice of which liturgical color will be used and place it on the form they fill out for their readings and adjunct music selections, and ask them to circle one, violet, white or black.

What choice would you pick for your loved one and why?


Marc said...

Black for me. I will need everyone's prayers. I don't want people thinking I'm already in heaven in no need of prayers. White conveys sainthood (we use it for feasts of confessors, after all). Black conveys penitence. That is what I need. I suppose violet conveys that as well, but black just seems more appropriate.

Also, I would prefer an EF requiem, so I hope I live close enough to a priest who is willing to do that when I die!

Henry said...

what if a certain pastor . . . allowed for options for funerals, I mean, Requiems, such as what is listed in the "rubrics" for the appropriate liturgical color, violet, white or black?

So what? As the preference of color is allowed to the requesting family for OF funerals (and I understand always has been) in the parish I currently attend, and so far as I know no one has ever made an issue of it. What is there to make an issue of? Black is sometimes chosen--as at the last couple of funeral Masses I've attended--though rarely.

Jacob said...

Black and the traditional latin mass. also Extreme Unction, prayers for the dying, prayers for the departing soul and everything else in the Roman Ritual while in my death agony. Oh I forgot the most important-The Apostolic Blessing in the Roman Ritual.

rcg said...

Please, please pick Black for me. Pin, you guys back me up on this. Then have a party and empty the Scotch from my cupboard to know I loved this life, and savour the bitter taste that I am in Purgatory sweating out the sins I forgot in confession. Can I be happy to be in Purgatory? How can I not be, if a mere then thousand years of fire cleanses me for an eternity with the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost? Will it increase my time there to shout for joy?

And while you drink you must play banjo tunes and bagpipes. It should be a sad day for you, too.

TCR said...

We wear black to a funeral to show respect and solidarity for the family's grief. It is the color of humble penitence and mourning. When someone dies, it is a loss, despite their place in eternity. They are physically lost to us in this earthly realm, and so, we mourn and pray for them.

Another vote for black is its traditional symbolic connection to death. Black in its sobriety points us to the reality of the Four Last Things, especially the unpopular elements of Death, Judgment, and Hell without presupposing the attainment of Heaven. So for me, it definitely is black with all the grieving and prayers to go with it!

Templar said...

banjos and back pipes so it's a sad day for us too? LOL I'm howling rcg

Black for me, and an EF Requiem please. I'd rather be wrapped in a blanket and tossed in a hole in potter's field than have an OF "Funeral Mass".

Joe Potillor said...

black, only black, EF Solemn Sung Requiem Mass

Joseph Johnson said...

For a number of years now, my will has a provision requesting black vestments and, if possible, an EF requiem Mass. It also provides for an ad orientem OF requiem Mass (also in Latin) as an alternative, if a priest is not available to offer the EF.

While the objective spiritual benefits of any validly celebrated Mass would be the same, I make this request as one last act to show my fellow Catholics the liturgical patrimony that is still available to them, if they only ask for it and encourage their priests in restoring it.

rcg said...

Dang straight, Temp. You can help pick the music for the party. The only rule is you are restricted to compositions originating before MDCCCLXV. You can replay Superbowl SSPX, too. Readings from The Cambridge Unabridged Shakespeare, Walt Whitman, and Rimbaud.

ytc said...

Black is the most appropriate. It is the most traditional. It is the most Roman. It is the most, dare I say, pastoral color, contrary to the thoughts of some.

White is inappropriate. It is offensive, happy, joyful, ie everything a funeral should not be. I could care less if my family "remembers my baptism" or whatever, just as I could care less if they remember my confirmation or first Holy Communion or or Kindergarten graduation any other event of my life at my Requiem, regardless of its importance. I do not want people to remember my life at my Requiem. I want them to pray for my soul. They can have good thoughts later, but the Requiem is not the time. White is an inappropriate color for funerals. It does not convey and support a sense of mourning. It is unnatural and unhealthy to stifle mourning with stupid canonization homilies and white vestments and white lilies on the altar and "peace joy happiness" felt banners. How horribly offensive would it be for a woman to show up to her daughter's wedding wearing black mourning clothes? This is along the same lines, but opposite colors of course.

Violet is also inappropriate, although admittedly not as much as white. Violet, as the color for Advent and Lent, is a penitential color, something that Catholics associate with their OWN personal sins and prayer for themselves and to strengthen their own spiritual lives. Violet, consciously or subconsciously, is associated with examining one's own conscience, with praying for oneself, with feeling sorrow for one's own sins. Black is focused on the other, violet is focused on the self.

I want black vestments and a homily on the Four Last Things with some exhortations to "ora pro eo."

Gene W. (formerly Pin) said...

I want black and an EF Requiem Mass, or at the very least an OF one with ad orientum.