Black or White? Two Design Ideas

Many of our readers will know that black has been the traditional colour of the Requiem Mass for a very long time. In the usus antiquior this matter is quite simple as it remains the proper liturgical colour of Masses for the Dead (with the exception of infants of course where the liturgical colour would be white). In the "ordinary form," however, black is only one of three possible options -- with violet and white being the other two. As a result, a debate over which colour should be used has frequently been heard over the past few decades within that specific liturgical context.

While black is a perfectly valid option for funerals in the Ordinary Form (and I would suggest that it is the preferential one) the fact remains that in some locales resistance can still be found to the traditional use of black -- a resistance that is primarily generational in nature and which stems from some of the liturgical and theological trends of the latter half of the 20th century which wished to emphasize the aspect of hope over that of mourning.

While this sort of opposition is fast disappearing as the years pass, some priests who wish to reclaim the traditional colour still find themselves unable to freely do so -- a needless shame but a reality for some nonetheless. In view of that, two design ideas came to mind for a potential "compromise" that might well serve as options in such circumstances. 

The first such option would be to commission a black chasuble with white orphreys akin to that shown below:

The second option is precisely the inverse of this; a white chasuble with a black orphrey:

In either instance I would highlight that the use of a creamier white fabric, such as is shown here, would seem to me best as it will both be more complementary (by lessening the contrast between the white and black) and also symbolically more apropos (by giving a nod to the reserved nature of the liturgical occasions in which it would be used).

The idea here in either of these instances would be to clearly represent both mourning and hope (as symbolized in black and white), which is, as noted, the root of the aforementioned tension.

Designs such as this could well present an acceptable compromise for priests who face resistance to the traditional usage in the Ordinary Form, or who simply wish to symbolically represent these two aspects.

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