The Confirmation youth of the church have been busy preparing for their sacrament by choosing their Confirmation name and youth have met to pray the Stations of the Cross on Friday evenings then spending time in fellowship and prayer after. They had been meeting over Zoom and can now meet in person because of the guidelines given to us by the diocese to follow. Our conversation on Friday included a discussion that many of you will be having after attending mass. “Why are the crucifixes and images veiled?’
The official answer in the rubrics can guide us. In the Roman Missal we find the instruction, “In the Dioceses of the United States, the practice of covering crosses and images throughout the church from [the fifth] Sunday [of Lent] may be observed. Crosses remain covered until the end of the Celebration of the Lord’s Passion on Good Friday, but images remain covered until the beginning of the Easter Vigil.” The images were often veiled here during Holy Week and not many people were here to witness and see since they were unveiled before Easter Sunday.
My first experience with seeing the images covered earlier in Lent was when we traveled to New Mexico and Arizona a few years ago for Spring Break. We walked into mass and found all images and crucifixes covered. We were still a couple of weeks from Easter, and it left a powerful impression on us. I am always left curious when so many attend Palm Sunday and Easter. Both are wonderful times to recognize, attend and celebrate as is every Sunday and Holy day of obligation but it is those times in between (especially Holy Thursday & Good Friday) that often get missed. Many other Christian faiths prefer to celebrate the empty cross and resurrection. We as Catholics hold on to the crucifix but sometimes our symbols and images can be overlooked, dismissed, become routine, or taken for granted and we lose the meaning. If not for the sacrifice on Friday, then there is no celebration on Sunday. For a time in Germany the altar was also draped in purple cloth. How powerful an image. While discussing the veiled images with RCIA on Monday I asked them why they thought the images would be veiled (Mary, Joseph, the Divine Mercy, Our Lady of Guadalupe). One answered to say, “there would be no followers”, I asked who are the followers? Another young man said, “Us.” Those seeking to enter the church on Easter Vigil recognize that without that crucifix, the sacrifice of Jesus, there is no “us” as followers. There are no sacraments, there are no priests, saints, prayers, or places to turn in times of crisis or when we seek comfort. Families are also encouraged to imitate this practice and veil religious images in their homes. It helps us to participate in the liturgical season, especially if we are pre-vented from going to Mass during the week or on Sundays during this time of pandemic. This is the time to look around in your church and think about what your life would be like without these things that we so often take for granted.
Come and see all that Holy Week has to offer you and all that has been gifted to us. Please look at the bulletin for our Holy Week schedule plan to participate in person or virtually with your family. Do not let this time pass you by. Stop, recognize, and reflect as the veil is lifted and God’s light and glory are revealed.
“Apart from the cross, there is no other ladder by which we may go to heaven.” St. Rose of Lima
GINGER BENES, DIRECTOR OF CONFIRMATION & YOUTH MINISTRY