Getting ready to attend a Catholic funeral can be quite difficult, especially if you haven’t been to one. Aside from being mindful of your words and actions, you should also make sure to wear appropriate clothing that would show your respect to the service, the deceased, and the deceased person’s family. To help with this, here’s an article to help you choose an appropriate attire for a Catholic funeral.
Choose an attire that wouldn’t call attention to yourself. This is the most important thing to remember when attending a Catholic funeral. This means avoiding clothes with bright colors and eye-catching prints. You should also avoid wearing jewelry and accessories that are too loud and sparkly.
To help you prepare better, I’ve prepared some do’s and don’ts in choosing what to wear at a Catholic funeral. I have also included a list of things to consider in funeral attire and what to expect when attending one.
What Is Acceptable to Wear to a Funeral: Do’s and Don’ts
Catholic funerals are solemn and formal occasions. So you’ll need to be on your best behavior and proper attire to show your respect towards the deceased and their family. But what exactly do you consider a “proper” attire for a funeral? Here’s a guide to help you out.
- Dress conservatively: Since funerals are somber, you wouldn’t want to do anything that would disrupt or catch other people’s attention. So it’s best that you wear something conservative and modest. This means avoiding anything too revealing, flashy, tight-fitting, and provocative.
As a guide, men should consider suits or dress pants with dress shirts and a tie. For women, subdued dresses, pantsuits, or skirts are ideal.
- Choose subtle colors: You should also avoid clothes with bright colors and bold patterns or prints. Again, this is to avoid calling attention to yourself. That said, black is still the safest color to go with as it’s closely associated with mourning. However, it’s not mandatory in Catholic funerals.
Now, you don’t have to wear an all-black clothing. You can also go with dark or muted colors like gray, navy, charcoal, and dark brown.
- Consider religion and culture: When choosing what to wear, you should consider if the Catholic funeral you’re attending has specific religious or cultural customs. For instance, the church may require women to cover their heads with a hat or a scarf. Some cultures may also prefer specific colors or prints.
That said, check with the deceased’s family or the church to see if there are guidelines or rules to follow. But if in doubt, it’s always best to go with something more conservative, like a long skirt with a long-sleeved blouse in dark and subtle colors.
- Consider the weather, season, and location: The funeral’s weather, season, and location can affect your choice of clothing. For instance, if it’s summer or too hot, consider those with light and breathable fabrics for more comfort. Keep in mind, however, to maintain your modest and conservative appearance.
- Dress for comfort: At Catholic funerals held in churches, you’ll be sitting, standing, and kneeling. They will also be emotionally draining. Thus, it’s important to dress comfortably. Choose clothes that will allow you to move freely and won’t restrict you in any way.
- Don’t go overboard with your accessories: Your accessories can make great additions to your overall attire. However, accessories that are too flashy and big can distract others from the funeral service. You should also avoid colorful scarves and exaggerated hair pieces.
- Don’t underdress: The thing with funerals is that you don’t want to call attention to yourself. So your and everyone else’s focus should be why you’re there, which is to show your respects to the one who died. But if you show up underdressed or with casual clothes, then chances are, you’ll stand out.
So avoid a too-casual look. A slightly casual look is fine as long as it’s still modest and somber. With that in mind, avoid athletic wear, beachwear, and sporty shoes. Jeans, printed t-shirts, and hoodies are not a good idea as well. To be on the safe side, choose something more formal without being flashy.
What Goes On in a Catholic Funeral?
If you have never attended a Catholic funeral before, it will be helpful to know what goes on in one so you’ll know what to expect and what might be expected of you. To help you with that, here’s a quick rundown of what happens at a Catholic funeral:
- Opening Rites: The priest will enter and greet those in attendance. The casket may be on display, and the priest will bless him/her with holy water. A Bible or crucifix may also be placed on the casket, serving as a symbol of the deceased’s Christian faith.
- Liturgy of the Word: During this part of the service, the priest will read passages from the Bible and give a homily. Compared to regular Catholic masses, these readings are chosen to reflect the deceased person’s life. Likewise, the priest’s homily will be about the person’s life and his/her faith.
- Liturgy of the Eucharist: This is the part of the Catholic funeral mass when the priest consecrates the bread and wine. After being consecrated, the priest offers those in attendance the Eucharist. If you are not a Catholic, then you should not receive the Holy Eucharist.
- Closing Rites: This is the last step in a Catholic funeral and it includes a prayer of commendation and a final blessing. The recessional hymn will then be sung while the priest, the casket, and the immediate family members make their way towards the exit. Afterward, the rest of the attendees may follow.
Now, the whole service may take up to around 60 minutes. In circumstances when a Catholic funeral is held without the Liturgy of the Eucharist, it will take only 30 minutes or so. If you’re wondering about the eulogy, most Catholic families hold it at the “prayer vigil”, which is usually the evening before the actual funeral. Sometimes, a short eulogy at the end of the funeral mass may also be permitted, depending on the Church and parish priest.