Black Masses

When I was a boy, there was a priest called Fr Michael Crowdy. He was a wonderful man, but a trifle eccentric – one of his idiosyncrasies being to announce, from time to time, his intention of celebrating a black mass. When you first heard him say it, it sounded like he was going to perform some kind of Satanic rite; but, in fact, he meant, of course, a mass in black, requiem mass.

The use of black for requiems surprises some people, but it is a reminder that the church, as a loving mother, ‘mourns with those who mourn.’  She knows that, if we love someone, we cannot help but sorrow when they are taken from us, a lesson which she learned first from her Lord: the shortest verse in the Bible, Jesus wept, Jesus wept for Lazarus, because He loved him.

The Bible does not say: Do not sorrow. The Bible says, Do not sorrow as those who have no hope. For we have a hope that is certain and firm, sure and steadfast, because, like an anchor it is fixed in Jesus Christ, the Rock of our Salvation, He Who died to destroy our death, He Who rose to give us eternal life, He Who ascended into heaven to prepare a place for us, He Who will come again to take us to Himself, that where He is we too may be.