Black or White For Requiems: A Via Media For the Present Time

Since the 1970's, it is well enough known that there has been some "aversion" to the liturgical colour black. Speaking personally, I think there are plenty of very good and sound reasons (both pastorally and theologically) for it's use, and as such I'm, admittedly, not terribly sympathetic to that aversion. That said, many priests are frequently placed in a position where, regardless of whether they agree with those aversions or not, they can find themselves under pressure to avoid the tradition of black in these liturgical scenarios. What then are they to do?

Recently, one option has been to use violet for funerals. Violet is, to my mind, a better liturgical option than white where requiems are concerned, but it still seems symbolically deficient -- for a funeral is not a case of penance per se, it is rather one of mourning.

However, other, more creative options, can present themselves in situations  such as these. One such option is to utilize a vestment which combines black and white in reasonably equal proportions. While this may not be liturgically "perfect," it has the advantage of counter-balancing these two liturgical poles (the tradition and the current sensibility of certain generations).

An example which brought this idea to mind recently comes from a collection in France where an 18th century chasuble is found that uses equal parts of white and black. Here it is:

As already noted, while this may not be liturgically perfect, since the liturgical colour is somewhat ambiguous here,  in our present time it may well be liturgically pragmatic until such a time as the liturgical appropriateness of black is once again rediscovered.

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