The Catechetical Review - Communicating Christ for a New Evangelization

Black Vestments: A Catechesis on the Last Things

Authored by Brian Schnell in Issue #5.4 of Catechetical Review
On November 2, the Church commemorates the Feast of All Souls. In contrast to the Feast of All Saints the day before, the All Souls liturgy remembers all who have died, not just the saints in heaven. As such, it is a much more somber occasion. After all, many souls will never be saints in heaven: they have elected an eternity separate from the love of God and must therefore suffer the torments of hell. But even though “it is not the will of your heavenly Father that one of these little ones be lost” (Mt 18:14), the punishment of hell is both righteous and just. In The Problem of Pain, C.S. Lewis called the damned self-enslaved—their doors to eternity are locked from the inside. Love, even and especially God’s love, can never be forced. Thus, we ultimately do not mourn or pray for the conversion of souls in hell, for they would not want God even if they could have him. There are those, however, that will never suffer eternal torture. They thirst painfully for God but have not yet achieved their heavenly reward. These souls have died in God’s friendship but must still be refined in the furnace of affliction (cf. Is 48:10): they must pay the temporal punishment for their sins. These are the Church Suffering, the holy souls in purgatory. It is chiefly them we remember in our prayers and in the sacrifice of the Mass on All Souls Day. Coloring Our Faith There is a maxim in the Church which states, “lex orandi, lex credendi.” Summarized in the Catechism, “the law of prayer is the law of faith: the Church believes as she prays” (par. 1124). Whether we realize it or not, vestments are part of that “concrete mode of catechesis,” which Pope St. John Paul II named as a function of sacred art. The style, the symbols, the color…these are all elements of sacred vestments which convey a subtle visual theology to all those participating in the Lord’s Supper. When it comes to Masses for those who have died, the visual prayer of the priest’s vestments can influence how we move forward in faith after the death of a loved one. Regarding the color of sacred vestments, the General Instruction of the Roman Missal says this: 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 (#346e). Yes, in the Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite, black is an acceptable and legitimate liturgical color for funerals and Masses for the Dead (including All Souls).

The rest of this online article is available for current subscribers.

Start your subscription today!


This article is from The Catechetical Review (Online Edition ISSN 2379-6324) and may be copied for catechetical purposes only. It may not be reprinted in another published work without the permission of The Catechetical Review by contacting editor@catechetics.com

Articles from the Most Recent Issue

Editor’s Reflections: The Liturgical Life – A Source of Healing
By Dr. James Pauley
Free “The kingdom of heaven may be likened to a man who sowed good seed in his field. While everyone was asleep his enemy came and sowed weeds all through the wheat, and then went off” (Mt 13:24–25). Our Lord’s imagery helps us make sense of difficult and painful situations existing within the Church. He is describing, afterall, the “kingdom of God.”... Read more
Advent at Home: Five Practices for Entering into the Season
By Brad Bursa
Free Most Catholic parents are so far removed from a rich Catholic culture that living a liturgical season—let alone the liturgical year—can seem impossible. Dr. Tracey Rowland, professor at the University of Notre Dame Australia, describes the scene by saying that young Catholics “find themselves in a situation where they have rarely experienced a... Read more
Principles for Celebrating the Liturgical Year
By Fr. Eusebius Martis, OSB
For Christians, the celebration of the mystery of Christ is, on the one hand, formative and, on the other, an opportunity to offer praise and thanksgiving. This is especially true for Catholics because the events of our salvation in Christ are recalled daily, weekly, seasonally, and annually. The awareness of the liturgical cycle may not be... Read more

Pages

Watch Tutorial Videos

We've put together several quick and easy tutorial videos to show you how to use this website.

Watch Now