Father David’s Letter
Dear Friends in Christ,
Today is the 5th Sunday of Lent. You will notice something different in church today. It is something we do every Lent at this point in the season. Noticing it might prompt some to ask why and why now? This is not an official “Ask Father” question that was submitted to me in writing, but it is something that has come up from time to time in discussions. Therefore, I thought I would briefly address it here and now.
Q. Why do we cover the statues and crosses during Lent, and when is the proper time to cover them?
A. Let me take the second part first. In the Ordo, which is the official liturgical guidelines book for our diocese (every diocese has one), this is mentioned for the fifth Sunday of Lent: “In the dioceses of the United States, the practice of covering crosses and images throughout the church from this Sunday 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.” Since the directive says fifth Sunday of Lent, and not the first Sunday or Passion Sunday, that is when we do it. That is the proper time. As to why, that is another question, which I will now consider.
First, notice that the directive says crosses and images may be covered, and not must. To cover them therefore is an option. Yet, I think it is impactful, and as such a meaningful practice to observe. One article that I read regarding the practice states “this veiling is designed to heighten our senses and build within us a longing for Easter Sunday.” Every time I see the images covered it is striking. Many thoughts come to mind as to the spiritual meaning represented by the veiling. I think of Jesus being temporarily “taken away” from us, being imprisoned, crucified, and laid in the tomb. I think of the desire for heaven that is in my soul, and how not seeing the images of our Lord and the Saints for a brief time increases that longing to see them and be with them forever. I think of the gravity and cruelty of the Passion. I also think of Jesus’ promise to always be with us, even and especially when we may be experiencing those dark nights of the soul in which it is difficult to “see” or “feel” Jesus presence. I think of the longing for newness in my life, for those everyday “resurrections.” You might think of other spiritual meanings and ways this practice affects you. Another quote from an article I read says “whenever the statues are uncovered, the action recalls the rolling back of the tomb, so that the glory of Christ’s resurrection may be experienced by all.” I think that beautifully explains why we do this. Our senses are engaged to draw us more deeply into the mystery of Christ’s passion, death, and resurrection.
I hope that helps understand this practice a little better. Different parishes can do different things regarding it. Some may do it all throughout Lent, which I believe is an older custom in some areas of the country. Some parishes may not do it at all, but again it is not mandated, so not doing anything is an option. But I for one am a firm believer in the meaning and significance of liturgical details. And my own experience tells me the Church is wise to strongly recommend the practice. For two weeks the impact is profound, and it always leads to a greater outburst of joy at Easter when the stone is rolled away, everything is unveiled, and the glory of our Risen Lord shines with magnificent splendor!
Soup and Stations returns on Friday, February 24th with soup at 6pm in Mary Hall and Stations of the Cross in the Church at 7pm. Soup and Stations will be offered weekly through March 31st.
If you still feel uncomfortable to attend Mass, the weekend Mass is still available on St. Mary’s Facebook page and also still being broadcast for you to attend in your car on radio station FM90.3. You can then receive the Eucharist after Mass.
Here is the link to Spiritual Communion and Chaplet of the Blessed Sacrament: https://www.virgosacrata.com/spiritual-communion.html