Sunday, April 02, 2017
Why The Purple Shrouds of Passiontide?
"In some places images and statues are actually removed from the church and not simply veiled, especially after Holy Thursday.
Crosses are unveiled after the Good Friday ceremonies. All other images are unveiled shortly before the Mass of the Easter Vigil.
Neither the Stations of the Cross nor stained glass windows are ever veiled." (1)
"It reminds us that Jesus hid his glory during his Passion, so too we hide away our religious items in order to prepare ourselves to focus on and honor his Passion." (2)
Passiontide begins on the Fifth Sunday of Lent and lasts through the remainder of the Lenten season. It is traditionally called Passiontide because on Passion Sunday (under the new lectionary, "The Fifth Sunday of Lent") the reading of the Passion of Christ is read during at least one of the Masses on this Sunday.
So Why Do We Cover Statues and Images?
During this period our focus is drawn to the Passion of the Christ. Thoughts and meditations on other saints are put aside for these two weeks.
"As with any liturgical practice, there is never a single reason why something is done. Liturgical signs are meaningful as liturgical signs because they draw forms from the best of nature and culture(s) combined with divine inspiration (if not outright institution) and religious Tradition. Christian symbolism is better considered as a system of signs each with a synthesis of overlapping meanings based on the growth of religious practice... One shift of focus of this season is an emphasis on Christ's humanity: the sacrifice inherent in the Incarnation and the sacrifice that is the Passion. Of course the constant totality of the liturgical celebration never allows us to lose sight of Christ's divinity, without which the Incarnation would not be a sacrifice and the Passion would lose its efficacy. So veiling images of Christ's glorified body, Christ victorious, and Christ risen, along with images of those who are now in his presence, helps enact that shift." (3)
During the Easter Vigil, as the statues, etc. are unveiled, not only is it a time of joy in the Resurrection, but all the splendor and glory is returned to the sanctuary too.
In some jurisdictions the veiling of images and statues does not happen until Holy Thursday (Maundy Thursday). As quoted above, the images and crosses of the Stations of the Cross are not veiled, nor are stained glass windows. Then, on Good Friday, attention turns to the Crucifixion, and images of the Crucifix are uncovered. All images and statues are unveiled just before the Mass of the Easter Vigil begins (about half-way through the Easter Vigil).