Just a bit from Fr Schmidt – March 26, 2023


Just as the season of Advent has two phases—the first being more focused on Christ’s return at the Final Judgment, and the second (starting around December 17) focusing on His Nativity in Bethlehem—Lent also has two phases. Since the change in the Mass readings after the Second Vatican Council, the special character of each part of Lent may be less apparent, but certain practices still persist. The most conspicuous is the veiling of crosses, statues, and other images of Saints inside the church (except the Stations of the Cross) from this 5th Sunday of Lent until the solemn Adoration of the Cross on Good Friday or until Holy Saturday.

This practice of veiling sacred images alludes to the Gospel that used to be proclaimed every year on this Sunday, when Jesus told the crowds, “Before Abraham was, I AM.” In response to this clear declaration of His divinity—a reference to the mysterious Name revealed to Moses on Mt. Sinai: I AM WHO AM—they picked up stones to put Jesus to death for such “blasphemy.” But Jesus “hid Himself” and went away. Images of Saints are veiled as well because it was thought improper for the servants to appear in the open while their Master hid away until His Passion.

Another explanation for the veiling of images is that as we witness the incredible suffering and death of Jesus in the frailty of our humanity, His divinity is in some sense veiled from us, difficult to discern, as He sweats blood, is scourged beyond recognition, and breathes His last upon the Cross. We offer the small penance of depriving our eyes of the beauty of sacred images for a short time, in reparation for the many sins we commit with our eyes and with our other members, our sins that led Jesus to such a painful death for us. The solemn “revelation,” unveiling of the Holy Cross is part of the Good Friday liturgy.

These final two weeks of Lent, called Passiontide, focus more specifically on the events of Christ’s Passion and death, while the first four weeks of Lent are focused more generally on penitence, reconciliation, and growth in the spiritual life. However your Lent has gone so far, it’s not too late to draw close to God in these final weeks, to repent of our sins, and to grow especially in gratitude for all that Jesus suffered to redeem us. “O love, O charity beyond all telling, to ransom a slave you gave away your Son!” (Exsultet of the Easter Vigil). Come, let us worship and praise Christ, who has redeemed the world by His Holy Cross!

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