Funeral vestments in Madison: a correction

My post on Bishop Morlino on funeral vestments stimulated a good discussion. Thanks, all. But I’ve closed comments there because I’m not sure the report I received was accurate. I failed to track down solid confirmation before posting, and I apologize. Ordinarily I’d make a phone call or email a colleague. I’m in the thick of National Catholic Youth Choir summer camp but that’s no excuse.

Correction: I don’t know whether Bishop Morlino is mandating or simply making strong suggestions about funeral vestments. I look forward to finding out. I’m sorry for any confusion the post caused.

However much I share the bishop’s concerns on this issue, I’m hoping he’s just suggesting and not commanding. We don’t need another battle in any corner of our church right now.



  1. If a bishop were to issue a rule about the colour of vestments at a Requiem Mass perhaps his priests should remember this liturgical principle, “No diocesan bishop may allow what the Church forbids or forbid what the Church allows.”

      1. Diocesan bishops can only make rules in matters where they have explicitly been given that power by the Church.

        The Conference of Bishops is given authority in GIRM to establish rules, but can the diocesan bishop make his own rules? I think that he can ban female altar servers in his diocese, but I really do not know what else to do with the liturgy that the bishop can forbid. Could a bishop ban standing for Holy Communion, or insist on EP1 on Sundays? I don’t think so.

    1. I wish someone would tell that to the bishops who forbid their flocks to kneel for communion, or those bishops who have not been supportive of the Extraordinary Form.

      Let us not forget that white is just a US adaptation, not universal law.

  2. Despite my personal preference for violet or black, white should certainly remain an option for funerals in the reformed funeral rites. White is the color of mourning in many east and south Asian cultures, for example. An exclusive return to violet or requiem black, though highly unlikely, might display insensitivity to different customs within a global, multicultural Church.

    Karl Liam Saur’s comment that “black no longer has the purchase on grief it once had, but has a more dominant meaning of smart snazzy dress” is an astute observation. His comment also highlights the way in which the significance of color can change within “western culture” in a short period of time.

    1. … white should certainly remain an option for funerals in the reformed funeral rites. White is the color of mourning in many east and south Asian cultures, for example. An exclusive return to violet or requiem black, though highly unlikely, might display insensitivity to different customs within a global, multicultural Church.

      White is not currently a universally permitted color, it’s a local adaptation in the U.S. and presumably elsewhere.

      346. Ad colorem sacrarum vestium quod attinet, servetur usus traditus, nempe:

      Color albus adhibetur in Officiis et Missis temporis paschalis et Nativitatis Domini; insuper in celebrationibus Domini, quae non sint de eius Passione, beatae Mariae Virginis, SS. Angelorum, Sanctorum non Martyrum, in sollemnitatibus Omnium Sanctorum (1 nov.) et S. Ioannis Baptistae (24 iunii), in festis S. Ioannis Evangelistae (27 dec.), Cathedrae S. Petri (22 febr.) et Conversionis S. Pauli (25 ian.).

      Color violaceus adhibetur tempore Adventus et Quadragesimae. Assumi potest etiam in Officiis et Missis defunctorum.

      Color niger adhiberi potest, ubi mos est, in Missis defunctorum.

      Conferentiae tamen Episcoporum possunt definire, ad colores liturgicos quod attinet, et proponere Apostolicae Sedi aptationes, quae necessitatibus et ingenio populorum respondeant.

      The US GIRM adds:

      e) Besides the color violet, the colors white or black may be used at funeral services and at other Offices and Masses for the Dead in the Dioceses of the United States of America.

      Sensitivity to local customs is why we have a process for local adaptations in the first place. We don’t change the universal rule to fit all possible local adaptations. Whether a particular local adaptation is wise and whether it’s use is widely appropriate pastorally (e.g. a pastor of a Chinese parish in the U.S. might have much more cause to wear white for funerals, hence making it important to keep the adaptation for the United States even while saying it shouldn’t be widely used) is certainly something that can be debated.

    2. I remember reading about this issue (parts of Asia having white as a mourning color) in an article from around the time of the Council. That’s great, simple solution, allow for legitimate cultural variations in that specific culture! Just because parts of Asia use white as a mourning color doesn’t mean we need an indult or option here in the U.S. to allow it.

      As to the significance of color changing, would anyone no longer associate black with mourning? Does anyone really wear garish or bright colors to a funeral in the West unless 1. they aren’t Westerners or 2. they are crazy? If black has lost its association with death to any measurable degree, its because our avant garde clerics started pitching the black vestments into the dumpster in the swinging ’60s.

      1. It used to be taboo to wear mourning clothing in other contexts, so that mourning clothing clearly communicated something. (I would like to add that, while mourning clothing customs could be suffocating in past ages, they also had the social value of alerting strangers to the fact that someone was in mourning, and to what degree; so I am not dissing the value of mourning clothing – I am merely observing that black no longer means what it used to, and can only be amused by comments I’ve observed elsewhere about the smartness of designs of new black vestments … which prompt me to wonder if drab unbleached Lenten white of the Sarum use might be a better choice all the way around). The elimination of the taboo was not a result of the pitching of vestments, but much larger social trends.

        Of course, I am old enough to remember being told by my parents that it was considered bad (or not so great) form to send flowers for a Catholic funeral (Mass cards yes, especially Gregorian Masses, but flowers no, maybe a houseplant for the house of the grieving; oh, and lots of food yes).

    3. If we are talking in living memory, black has been a formal color much longer than that. Black tie tuxedos, older white tie and tails etc. formal wear came into being largely by the late 19th Century.

      As to mourning dress (which is, obviously, distinctive from morning dress), black was not the only think that distinguished it, it was also the style. I can think of today when people (some still do) wear a black arm band while they are in mourning. Wearing a solid black suit to work is still considered odd whereas navy and other colors are considered more appropriate.

      While pitching vestments might not have been the sole cause (is anything ever really a sole cause?), it was the Church’s usage that really established black as the “death color”. In popular culture, the echo is still there, however faint. I wonder sometimes if the “halloween colors” of black and orange didn’t come from the cultural memory of the Requiem with its black vestments and unbleached candles.

      The Lyonese Rite had an ash colored vestment for certain times (can’t remember when). That would be great if these colors were restored-in their proper context. Lenten Sarum white would be great-in Sarum use. Msgr. Newton-are you listening? For us though, black is our standard requiem color.

      At least in our area, we still held the custom of bringing food to the family.

      1. While informal wear is now the dominant fashion, I’ve been seeing all-black suits as quite the fashion for a generation. (They do show lint, so it’s one of those high-maintenance fashion statements.)

        And black predates Roman Catholic vestments as a mourning color in the West; the vestments took their cues from secular culture.

      2. I realize that, I have an all black suit I wear. It bridges the gap between every day and formal formal.

        That is nice (and I do not deny it) but again, black is the Roman Rite requiem color. When secular culture influenced Church culture, it was properly Catholic enough such that this was a legitimate example of a kind of sensus fidelium in disciplinary matters.

        Why would we take any cues from the largely irrelgious and wholly banal neo-pagan culture of today? This is precisely the kind of age in which we should be sticking to our guns and circling the wagons to protect and foster our superior cultural treasures from the onslaught of a deceptively appealing barbarian culture.

        I’m all for being open to the world, but it should be a lot more of us “civilizing” them and a lot less of us trading our birthrights for their messes of pottage.

      3. “Why would we take any cues from the largely irrelgious and wholly banal neo-pagan culture of today?”

        Possibly to avoid associating ourselves with it.

  3. Last February I want to the local Byzantine Orthodox Church for their annual Divine Liturgy for the dead when they mention each person who has died from the parish since its inception (took about 8 minutes) while chanting Kyrie eleison in Greek, Slavonic, and English. The liturgical color was Paschal White.

    The priest in his homily said that the fundamental duty of Orthodox is to pray for one another, and prayer for the dead is in light of the hope given by the Resurrection. That does not guarantee our personal salvation, which is a mystery known only to God, but it is the basic context in which we pray for the dead.

    My impression is that much of Western Christianity, both Catholic and Protestant, really believes only in the sinful state of mankind, and Christ’s death for our sins. The Incarnation, Resurrection, Ascension and Pentecost seem to be historical events that are commemorated at certain times of the year but not vibrant parts of Christian life.

    In contrast what has attracted me to the Byzantine Orthodox tradition is that the Incarnation, Resurrection, Ascension and Pentecost are really present in the life of the Church today. All the Mysteries of Christ life are also presented in an integrated way, e.g. the Alleluia is not abandoned during Lent. One does not get the feeling that the Incarnation has not yet occurred during the preparatory period for Christmas or that the Resurrection has not occurred yet during Lent.

    Much of the difference likely has to do with Western individualism.

    The Byzantine Orthodox begin the celebration of Lent not with ashes individually received on the head but with the ceremony of mutual forgiveness in which they ask and give forgiveness while the great Paschal Praises are sung “let us forgive each other by the Resurrection.”

    The great amount of asceticism, prayer and fasting, in this Orthodox tradition makes sense only in terms of this larger context rather than Western individualism.

    1. Jack, I am also a fan of Orthodox spirituality and liturgy. However, I feel as though your post idealizes the Orthodox church and trivializes some of the Western traditions. For example, the absence of the ‘allelulia’ during Lent goes back at least as far as St. Benedict, as he mentions it in his rule (he’s hardly an example of a Western individualist). Also, many facets of Orthodoxy tend toward nationalism, which can be just as damaging as individualism. Also, Western individualism is still a problem for the Orthodox seeing as many of them live in the West. I think you are missing a lot of the richness of the Western liturgical tradition – the comments you made about the resurrection and paschal mystery not being present or only being about redemption of sin is not my experience of the Western church. Perhaps those ideas have dominated a lot of theological discussion in the west, but the liturgy is teeming with the proclamation of Christ risen and our joining with him in holiness (ie: deification). I encourage you to look for those things you feel the western liturgy lacks and see if you might discover them if you explore them through another lens.

  4. Grief and mourning are very personal things; I was devastated for about a year when my mother died at age 72, but could easily celebrate God’s gifts in my family of origin when my father died ten years later at 89.

    In terms of readings and hymns at a funeral pastors ought to let the family make choices within reason that reflect where the family is in their relationship to the deceased and the grief process, not seeking to impose ideas and feelings on people.

    However in providing an overall context pastors ought like the Orthodox priest to emphasize that as Christians we pray always for one another, and live and die in the hope of the Resurrection.

    1. Jack, I think one of the reasons for the U.S. Church adopting the funeral rite with the Resurrection theme so dominant, and having the celebrant vested in white was done with the Orthodox practice in mind.

      I agree with your views and I’d hope the bishop of Madison would be as sensitive to the mourners along the lines you’ve laid out rather than exercising his clear right to impose the use of purple or black.

      This guy seems to be a real bull in the proverbial china shop. Perhaps, he should be taken out of the sticks and given an appointment in a large eastern city in the manner of his colleague, the former archbishop of Milwaukee. He might get a real education and the folks in Madison would get the relief they need.

  5. The practice of the Easterners (Catholic and non) varies. The Typicon says something like “light or dark” vestments and doesn’t really specify. The Russians and Slavs use black fairly often, actually.

    I don’t know what got into people’s heads around the time of the Council. That’s the way to really “reform” things-get down on our own venerable customs and run with the “grass is greener on the other side” mentality. Then, to top it all off, its not like they even took what was truly great and beautiful and grafted it into our rites but took a little bit here and there and mixed it in with a generous helping of bad taste and tackiness. If I were an Easterner, I would take it as an insult if someone said to me the “reformed” Western funeral rites took Eastern practices as inspiration. I have never seen any Eastern liturgy so sloppy and/or banal as what passes for “good” liturgy in most Western parishes.

    One other great thing about the Requiem (and Eastern Panachida for that matter) is that they are invariable! Does it not strike anyone else as narcissistic to think we need to tailor the Funeral Mass to whatever silly personal whims the dead or their family had? It almost invariably ends up being such a schmaltzy afair of whatever somewhat sad pop hits happen to infect the radio and the same old junk (music, pseudo-rituals, etc.) that the pastoral “ministers” and funeral industry push. Its kind of like what happened with weddings. Sad, really.

    1. Dominic, An insult to adopt an eastern practice? Come on, isn’t emulation the highest form of praise ? The Roman liturgy is a poster child for borrowings from the east and has been since day one.

      By the way, the use of black vestments in certain Slavic Orthodox churches is attributable to the influence of Dominicans and Franciscans working in parts of the Ukraine and Russia in the 17th century. A “latinization”?

      Then the adoption of a tabernacle of a large, western style common in many Russian churches is clearly the result of latinizing tendencies. Or another example, Russian composers who either followed Italian styles of choral musical composition, or Italian and French architects who designed churches in Moscow, St. Petersburg, and Kiev in the 18th and 19th century, and in doing so incorporating styles to be found throughout Italy.

      Using black and white for evening dress has usually been attributed to late 18th century Italian taste and to Beau Brummel, the fashion freak of late Georgian England (early 19th century), who made it a strict rule for evening attire. It has been so ever since. From which our tuxedo or white tie evening costume seems to have originated.

      As for searching for “greener pastures”, one could say that is precisely what certain devotees of the EF would have us do by insisting upon a one- size- fits all celebration of Mass. Question is, who are they to decide there are “greener pastures”? Or, if there are such pastures, why we have to return to them?

      1. No, its not an insult to the Roman Rite to adopt an Eastern practice. I would think it an insult as an Easterner that someone took my beautiful rite, mucked it up so as to be practically unrecognizable and then have the gall to tell me that their impoverished and ugly innovation is “from” my glorious and beautiful Eastern usage.

        Yes, I know that about black. They have the custom of using white for the actual funeral and then black (or darker colors) for later commemorative liturgies. The Easterners have a much looser code of liturgical colors than the Roman Rite anyway and so a dark blue, violet, red could also be used. The Russian Orthodox supposedly really started using black at the funeral of Czar Paul II.

        I know the history you’ve outlined, but thank you. Beau Brummel also got the buckle off the court shoes and put on crossgrain bows.

        What I meant by “greener pastures” is that we have our legitimate customs, other folks have theirs. Neither was “deficient” or lacking in any real way. As much as coerced latinization is to be deplored, a faux-easternization, especially based on a certain self-loathing, on our own rite is likewise to be deplored. The Roman Canon has done without an explicit epiclesis for a millenium or more-did we really need to screw with it? If we wanted to build more rapport with the Eastern Orthodox, we totally missed the boat by wrecking our traditional rite, ditching all the other distinctive Latin non-Roman Rites and replacing them all with a made-up rite and tribute to a Borg-like ultramontanist uniformity. Since they’re so big on tradition, yeah, that will do the trick…

      2. “The Easterners have a much looser code of liturgical colors than the Roman Rite anyway”

        So did the Roman Rite, through most of its history.

        This is worth highlighting. It’s O.K. to have a strict code of liturgical colours, but I am a bit amused with the way so many people in the Roman Rite today get so worked up about getting the colours exactly “right.” It’s a great example of the contrast between the post-Tridentine bureaucratic centralization that many of us think is “traditional,” and the way real tradition really is.

        In this area, a great deal of allowances for variety and diversity would not only be more pastoral, but much more authentic, ISTM. But the Roman Rite still hasn’t relearned how to think like that.

  6. White (or gold) is the color of the vestments on Holy Thursday and Holy Saturday when we celebrate the paschal mystery with the greatest solemnity. The Mass of Christian Burial focuses not on the life and death of the individual but on the victory over everlasting death made possible through the Death & Rising of Christ. That is how Easter colors became associated with the funeral Mass. And just why had priests been wearing black before the council? Was it not because in Italy and in other European countries that this color became associated with mourning? Was it because there was a presumption that because all are sinners that many are destined for the eons of time that souls may spend in purgatory? Nothing cheery or eastery about that, huh?
    Now I’m old enough to remember the Funeral and daily requiem Masses offered before the council. My own mother’s death occurred in 1953. That funeral Mass was a bummer. I don’t remember (at 12) hearing or seeing anything that might have remotely suggested that because of her baptism into Christ that she might be due a share in his victory over death. The daily Masses were downers as well. The cantor/organist wailing the kyrie and dies irae with unctious lament while the priest shuffled from one side of the altar to the other murmuring God-directed prayers on our behalf. If I remember correctly those were the days when it was believed that offering the Mass for someone carried with it the hope that their soul could be plucked out of purgatory at a moment’s notice.
    The colors changed because the thinking changed. Now there are folks who want us to return to the old thinking, so out come the old colors. I will continue to wear Easter colors save for the occasional funeral in which violet seems more suitable (as in the case of one who committed suicide).

  7. “The colors changed because the thinking changed. Now there are folks who want us to return to the old thinking, so out come the old colors.”

    Right there’s the money quote. Last time I checked that “presumption” about purgatory never changed, neither did the teaching of the efficacy of the Mass for the Pour Souls.

    We are an Easter people! Yep, and the Revolution eats its own…

  8. Sorry, Jack – agree completely. Dominic only underlines his lack of liturgical and theological understanding. Suggest reading any of the latest articles on “purgatory” even by the current pope. And what does efficacy of the mass of poor (not pour) souls means – nothing differrent from what Jack previously wrote. Appears to mean something different to you because you don’t understand the foundational theology behind his statements. Review the Order for Catholic Funerals – the mass is focused on God/Jesus Christ; only after the conclusion of the eucharist do we then pray for the deceased as a commitment and then again at the cemetery.

    Yes, we are Easter people (the only revolution here is the ROTR, SSPX, and restorationists). As Yves Congar says well in his recently english translated Journal at VII, integrism starts from fear and rejects incarnational theology replacing it with some type of imaginary perfect heaven – it replaces gospel stories of hope, kenosis (you know – emptying yourself as Jesus did); metanoia……your end point rejects the anthroplogy, incarnational theology of VII. It reaches back to the concept that *original sin* is the actual physical sin of Adam/Eve – it is a form of fundamentalism that colors discussions such as funeral liturgies. Sad!

    1. Shame about those hundreds of ‘integrist’ saints and church fathers who were so nonpastoral about the last four things.

    2. Darn, a typo. I am vanquished.

      Even in the NO, the official Introit (how often you see it is another question) is still “Requiem aeternam dona eis, Domine…”

      We do not have Easter without first going through Good Friday. Everything has to be taken as a totality. There would never have been any push to “restore” if the whole order hadn’t been overturned by modernists like Congar in the first place. Yes, I read the bit in there about “integrism” and of course he’s going to talk like that about the people who were gunning for him.

      What do you mean by “the concept that ‘original sin’ is the actual physical sin of Adam/Eve”?

      1. You will reject this but:
        – original sin – the scriptural basis for this is an analogy and story. Adam and Eve are part of the Genesis narrative (not actual, physical history). The Yahwist or Elohim writers were conveying their experience and sense of sin in the world via this story/metaphor.
        – Rahner, even the early Ratzinger reframed the *old* catechism approach to orginal sin by formulating christian anthropology and positing that human life in the *original condition* is the *original sin*. Thus, it rejects poorly defined theologican/scriptural interpretations that see Adam’s sin as an actual sin and that sin created a *stain* that is transmitted on to every generation. (thus, negating our freedom)


      2. OK, so now square that conception of Original Sin with the 5th Session of Trent and the pertinent passages from the CCC.

        Also, to clarify, are you saying that Adam and Eve were never real individual persons? Is Genesis not history in the sense that it is not akin to a newspaper account or that it never happened in any way, shape or form in that way?

      3. Please read Pius XII’s Divino Afflante Spiritu in terms of how to read scripture contextually; not literally. Adam and Eve are not *historical* persons in the same way we understand that Pius XII or the Council of Trent are historical. Study Pius’s comments about the historical critical methodology in doing scriptural exegesis. And, no, Adam and Eve aren’t folks found in newsprint, twitter, or even blogs….again, the writers sequent of events was a story conveying a living experience, truth – it is not a historical, verifiable event list.

        Don’t need to square the concept of original sin with the 5th session of Trent. Again, doctrine/dogma as B16 and other recent popes have stated reflects universal definitive truths but how we understand, experience, and explain those truths is historically developed and contingent on the times. Trent’s core understanding of original sin has been maintained but how we express that core today has developed and changed. Or as Newman said eloquently; “to live is to change; and to be perfect is to change often.”

        CCC is not definitive; not dogma; not even doctrine. It is a low level summary of beliefs – nothing more.

      4. “Also, to clarify, are you saying that Adam and Eve were never real individual persons? Is Genesis not history in the sense that it is not akin to a newspaper account or that it never happened in any way, shape or form in that way?”


        If Bill is saying these things, he’s pretty much in the mainstream of any reasonable opinion on them. It seems strange to me that one would have to ask.

      5. Bill,

        Thank you, I’ve read Divino Afflante Spiritu (not to mention Providentissimus Deus and Spiritus Paraclitus) and it was no watershed moment in Catholic biblical scholarship. We’ve never been merely literalists.

        That said, the same Pius XII wrote Humani Generis. The names Eugenio Pacelli and Adam are not of the same type, that is obvious. However, Adam (the first man) cannot be said to have not existed, we couldn’t have come from anyone other than those first parents whom the Bible names Adam and Eve and our original sin came from Adam. To top that off, what does Pius XII quote in saying that there would be no way to square the revealed truth of Original Sin w/ polygenism? Session 5 of Trent and Romans 5. What, praytell, has changed about this since 1950?

        As Vatican I clearly teaches, development and greater understanding are great but they cannot be used as a pretense to change the teaching itself. When the Church teaches one thing about Original Sin, it cannot be eviscerated by an (out of context) quote from Bl. Newman.

        No, the CCC is not dogma or definitive (its a catechism-I’m well aware of that) but show me in authoritative, magisterial documents where anything has changed on Church teaching concerning Original Sin, Adam and Eve, etc. Btw, Rahner doesn’t count as “authoritative” or “magisterial”.


        Wow right back at you. I don’t know Bill from Adam (pun intended), nor do I know your definition of “reasonable opinion”.

      6. As I said, Dominic – you wouldn’t accept what I said. Your approach is yours – fundamentalist, integralist, and misunderstanding biblical research (btw – Divino Afflante Spiritu was 1943; not 1950. you may have read it but someone needs to explain it to you)

        Sorry – neither the current magisterium nor most theologians believe that Adam was an historical person and that original sin was transmitted to the rest of humankind. You can choose to believe whatever you want but your opinion has little support or fact.

        Sorry, you use revelation in a literal sense – it goes back to the usual argument that the bible is inspired but of human origin. Inspiration describes the church’s sense that bible reveals God’s story and love – revelation doesn’t mean that it is historical fact (like US history) or scientific/biological fact (guess you aren’t high on evolutionary thought, either…if anything, humans evolved at different rates and times and at different places on the globe – science nor the bible can really tell us exactly if we came from one set of parents (in fact, if you understood biblical studies you would realize that *original parents* has little to do with *original sin* as used in theology or even revelation); it distinguishes between the core revelation and how/when these truths are conveyed. You can argue all day long that original sin is the core as Genesis describes it but in doing so you indicate your inability to understand the immense progress and change that has happened since the early 20th century in scripture studies. Also, your interpretation of Vatican I – *…pretense to change the teaching* confuses the distinction between the core teaching and how it is expressed and understood which is contingent.
        *Eviscerated* by a quote – really, it is you who *eviscerates* by picking and choosing and rejecting development.
        You can dismiss Rahner – but you only diminish your theology.
        “Show me….” You appear to identify authority in a very narrow sense. Again, CCC is merely a compilation of myriad church teachings at different levels; different levels of definitive teachings, etc.

        From the current pope and taken from an ultamondane blogsite:

        Money quotes:

        “For this state of affairs theology has found the certainly mistakable and imprecise word ‘original sin.'”

        “Because this is so, it is the case that: if the relational structure of being human is disturbed from the beginnning, every human being henceforth enters a world shaped by relational disturbance. With the very fact of being human, which is good, at the same time a world disturbed by sin attacks him.”

      7. So, Chris, can I interpret that I am usually not in the mainstream in my comments? Realize that I am not aligned with Allan’s favorite hobby spot but, not mainstream?

        As,Karl, said, guess Congar and I are just *modernists* -nice compliment and company.

      8. Bill,

        That’s nice, but I certainly do not need the document explained to me by someone who cannot figure out that I was referring to Humani Generis (which was, indeed written in 1950) and that Chris’ comments were in support of you.

        Secondly, if you really think people who disagree with your almighty magisterium of theologians are knuckle dragging fundies and integrists, then there is no point in continuing this. You quote from novusordowatch (which is Sedevacantist, mind you) and their parsing of a book by then Joseph Ratzinger.

        What do you make of this audience of the Holy Father, references to Trent and all, original sin as hereditary, etc? Just more integrism? The pope obviously wasn’t a bible scholar or he didn’t call up Kung or Schillebeeckx before he shot his mouth off?

        You also think asking for some evidence from magisterial sources is too narrow. Oh brother! In all charity, we are just going to have to agree to disagree.

      9. Dominic – I avoid “scoring points” by amassing what pope said what. Does it really matter? Popes change – not sure that really tells us anything about what the stance of the church is? 1950 and which encyclical – yep, guess I missed that somehow you meant HG and 1950 – can’t read your mind.

        Interesting – you quote from JPII in 1986 – on an earlier blog about divorce and remarriage, Ratzinger had also done another talk (part of a series) in which he strongly refutes a possible sacramental/theological argument and pastoral practice idea advocated by two of German cardinals – Lehmann/Kaspar – on a pastoral solution to communion for divorced and remarried. Again, it is interesting because this series of talks are all supporting curial edicts. In many instances, they completely differ from what Ratzinger had written, discussed, and advocated in the 1960-70s. Of course, now he was head of the CDF and part of the curial magisterium.

        I purposely used the other quote because it is from his book published in German in 1986 and may reveal a more careful and developed thinking on this issue than what JPII’s talk is stating (and, yes, it is from the right wing of the SSPX). In fact, the differences are interesting. In his book is Ratzinger the theologian while his other talks are as CDF head – Ratzinger as curial head?

        You missed my point about your *narrow magisterium* viewpoint? Sorry, as VII stated – magisterium is more than just the hierarchy – it is theologians and the sensus fidelium. It also gets at my viewpoint that too much is made of papal pronouncements as defining what the church is – think that VII had something to say about that by starting with the People of God.

        You also missed my *tongue in cheek* to Chris.

      10. Dominic,

        you might want to note JP2’s remark three weeks earlier in the same series: Obviously we are not speaking here of the beginning of history as scientific theories describe it, but of the “beginning” as it appears in the pages of Scripture.

        It means the 24 Sep 1986 audience is closer to Bill’s position than yours.

        You should also look at his 19 Sep 1978 characterization of the story of Adam the whole archaic form of the narrative, which manifests its primitive mythical character. The Vatican does not include his lengthy remarks on “myth” in his footnote, but other sites like EWTN have the notes.

      11. Bill: VII stated [that] magisterium is more than just the hierarchy – it is theologians and the sensus fidelium.

        Where? Lumen Gentium 12, in mentioning the supernaturali sensu fidei, appears to subjugate it to the sacri magisterii.

      12. Key word in your reply – *appears*

        Try drilling down and reading the notes and debates around the concept of *magisterium* that went into the *whole document*.

      13. Bill – but is it legitimate to say that “Vatican II stated ‘such-and-such'” when ‘such-and-such’ does not appear in the documents of Vatican II, but only in the diaries, discussions, debates, and notes that didn’t “make the cut”?

        Since there are enough debates and notes to fill a dozen-volume series (or something like that), could you direct me to a particular volume?

      14. I find it odd that notes from Vatican II that have never been officially endorsed in any way should be regarded as definitive while the CCC is dismissed.

      15. JP and Mr. Wayne – don’t have time to teach a basic course in how to read documents esp. church documents or any historical document.

        Was always taught by the best teachers whether in various theology disciplines or liturgy that you have to drill down – study those who wrote the document; their background, what they bring to the table; etc. Study the sources that they used to arrive at the actual language.

        JP – go to Richard McBrien’s Catholicism – pages 183-197 on Original Sin. He also summarizes Pius XII’s Humani Generis’s statement about common descent (monogenism). Again, today the church would explain it differently.

        Note – he explains the two tensions – God has offered grace (supernatural existential – not grace but God’s offer of grace – see Church in the Modern World, n. 19) and man can choose to respond to that grace in love,hope or can sin and reject that grace. Original sin is the concept that man from his very beginning knows that he exists in a flawed state and world. OS as a concept does not exist in the OT; Paul basically talks about it using the idea above – we either ratify sin like Adam or we ratify Christ’s grace through loving actions – how exactly we are affected by Adam’s sin, Paul can not say.

        IMO, just reading words in a document tells you very little. It is, rather, very much like the CCC – it merely is a list of agreed upon expressions that the papal/curia have blessed – it is not a definitive document; it is not dogma, defined truth, etc. In fact, any good CCC needs to be updated regularly. And the CCC only list the church’s current beliefs – it really doesn’t weigh in on moral choices; moral decisions; etc. It is a fine resource book but that is about it.

        Mr. Wayne – did not *dismiss* CCC – trying to place it in its proper context. If you don’t, then it replaces the difficult work of a faithful pilgrim who lives with doubts, suffering as well as joys.

        You are over reading what I have stated in an effort to score points – whatever!!

      16. Bill,

        We’re beating a dead horse, but I just wanted to make a few last statements and then this is going to be my last post on this subject.

        The Pope is the head of the Church and the authentic teacher who alone can declare infallible teaching on faith and morals w/o the consent or approval of anyone else. Not that he does it very often, but an official teaching of a pope has much more weight than anything he wrote as a mere theologian or than some other theologian wrote.Its not scoring points and your dismissal of papal pronouncements as if they were just some memos from some previous CEOs that have come and gone is telling. As to 1950 and HG, I can see where the connection wasn’t crystal clear but it was even less so to DAS and there was no need to be a mind reader. Why you’d think I thought DAS was written in 1950 w/ much less contextual connection than there was to HG is beyond me.

        What Ratzinger wrote as a theologian is basically irrelevant vs. what he wrote as head of the CDF and even more so now as pope. This flows into your later comment about how I missed your point about VII and the Magisterium. No, I didn’t miss it, I wholly reject your notion that theologians and the “sensus fidelium” are part of the Magisterium. Both are extremely important as far as they go, but they just are not part of the actual teaching office of the Church. I do not care what the notes or discussions say, none of that matters as you cannot put a creeping magisterialism on such things. If that is really the way things work, attributing an authority to whatever we prefer and dismissing what we find dated or not to our theological liking, then any real attempt at discussion is about as useful as trying to prove the moon is made out of cheese through the Koran.

      17. Bill: “Try drilling down and reading the notes and debates around the concept of *magisterium* that went into the *whole (V2) document*.”

        ++Di Noia: “Part of what we’re saying is that when you read the documents (of Vatican II), you can’t read them from the point of view of some liberal bishops who may have been participants (at the council), you have to read them at face value…”.
        “Given that the Holy Spirit is guiding the church, the documents cannot be in discontinuity with tradition” ++Di Noia to CNS.
        Read for yourself:

      18. Shane – anything from CNS is suspect. So, they lift a quote from DeNoia which means what?

        Let’s look at his quote – a snark about *liberal* bishops; using his stated theory……no one is the *authentic* speaker but who? the pope? what if the next pope says something different; even contradictory? Thought bishops were part of the hierarchy and that every bishop is the *authentic* teacher in his diocese?

        This quote is taken out of context and, at face value, is confusing and rejects other parts of what the church and the last council stated.

        Sorry, you like dominic and I will just have to agree to disagree. Your ecclesiology is at the opposite end of mine. If anything, I expect that DoNoia interfacing with Fellay/SSPX will feel very much like I do in responding to you and Dominic’s replies.

      19. Shane – from Noia himself as quoted in CNS:

        “It is possible to have theological disagreements while remaining in communion with the see of Peter,”

    3. Bill,

      No, I meant quite the opposite. Not taking Genesis as literal, or indeed as history at all, seems to me very squarely in the mainstream. I found it surprising anyone would have to be asked if they take that stance.

    4. Bill, I don’t need a course in how to read documents. You need to stop acting like everyone who disagrees with you is either malicious or a blithering idiot.

      And who am I supposedly trying to score points with? Are blog comments some sort of contest we’re trying to win? If so, then you seem to care more about winning than I do.

  9. Review the Order for Catholic Funerals – the mass is focused on God/Jesus Christ; only after the conclusion of the eucharist do we then pray for the deceased as a commitment and then again at the cemetery.

    I am certain that this is the current teaching. However, if you asked people why they attend a funeral Mass, this is not the reason you are likely to hear. To my ear, it’s as if the Church is teaching that a Mass is taking place and the concern for the person being buried and the survivors is tacked on as a favor. Heaven forbid that there be any suggestion that the deceased be remembered/honored in any way – except if the deceased is important enough! I know there are a lot of people who only show up for baptisms, First Communions, weddings and funerals. Maybe if we concentrated on welcoming them rather than enforcing the rules they’d show up more often!

    1. While every funeral Mass focuses in on the paschal mystery, our hope of finding God’s mercy and redemption, it also includes some personal information about the life of the deceased. Both of these key elements when properly addressed assist the family and all the mourners to contend with the loss of a loved one. It is not a canonization ceremony, nor an occasion to consign the deceased to purgatory. My predecessor was famous for focusing every funeral homily on purgatory.

      1. My predecessor was famous for focusing every funeral homily on purgatory.

        Oh, to have been a fly on the wall at the funeral luncheons after!

      2. Loved it, Jack. My best story was an elderly monsignor who did a wedding (as best he could given his health), and at the end of the mass and couple blessing, he asked the whole church to kneel and *offer* three (Ejaculations) for the couple. Yep, you guessed it……the place echoed with laughter given that the majority of folks in church were in their twenties.

  10. St Catherine of Genoa wrote a treatise on Purgatory based on her visions of it, including remarks like:
    I believe no happiness can be found worthy to be compared with that of a soul in Purgatory except that of the saints in Paradise; and day by day this happiness grows as God flows into these souls, more and more as the hindrance to His entrance is consumed.

    The haapiness of Purgatory, despite the suffering there, is acknowledged in the modern funeral rite, and serves as a sign of hope for those who mourn. One day they will laugh.

  11. How ironic this topic and thread seems having just sung and heard the annual Requiem (for deceased CMAA et al) Mass at the SLC Colloquium this evening. Even though the celebrant’s chasuble was black, ’twas not fiddle”black.” Everything else was a genuinely austere Requiem. His homily basically was a simple and powerful exegesis on the Dies Irae, a catechism itself beyond measure in my estimation.
    What’s ironic is the pre-occupation with coutoure on the general culture in the RCC obsessed with oppressive ecclesiology and the lack of focus on realizing self and vision according to tenets of the gospel that insinuate social responsibility as superior to conversion, missio and redemption.
    If folks were less obsessive on both sides of the loyal oppositions about trappings and could see beyond them to whatever moves the heart to genuine conversion and effort towards sanctity, we could make some progress retiring the liturgy wars.

  12. White (or white and gold) vestments are worn – as at Easter – because the Christian funeral is done in light of the promise of the resurrection. The hope of the resurrection sets the tone for the funeral rather than the reality of death.

  13. Let me make a new suggestion here. Reform of the reform or no, but a hierarchy that does not pay attention to what people believe and want may find that people will forgo a funeral Mass in lieu of a memorial service.

  14. Jack Wayne :

    I find it odd that notes from Vatican II that have never been officially endorsed in any way should be regarded as definitive while the CCC is dismissed.

    Very telling. I would like to see the rationale for this.

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