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Saturday, March 12, 2016

Passiontide Begins Tomorrow: Are You Ready?

When I was growing up, the Sunday before Palm Sunday was called Passion Sunday and the readings shifted to emphasis on the coming passion. The Gospel for Monday showed the pharisees attempting to arrest Jesus. Tuesday found Jesus could no longer "walk in Judea, because the Jews sought to kill him." They could not touch Him of course because His "time had not yet come." On Wednesday, the Jews try to stone Him in the temple when He challenges them for their disbelief. On Thursday Jesus goes to the pharisee's house who shows his disrespect by omitting the signs of respect to a guest. But the sinful woman comes and washes His feet with her tears and gives Jesus the opportunity to share the parable of the two debtors forgiven their debts and show once more that He has the power to forgive sins.On Friday, the pharisees meet to conspire and arrange for "one man to die for the people."

But what especially emphasized the coming Passion, the increasing darkness, was the veiling of all the statues and the crucifix from Passion Sunday until the Easter vigil. It's optional these days (although recommended) and episcopal conferences can make up their own minds. In many places it's uncommon to see the veiling, sad to say, especially in happy, clappy churches where unpleasant subjects like death, judgment, heaven, or hell are rarely, if ever, discussed. The Catholic Liturgical Library makes this point about veiling the crucifix: does not make liturgical sense to have the unveiling of the crucifix on Good Friday if the crucifixes were never covered in the first place.
Of course, in many places common sense, not to mention "liturgical sense," disappeared long ago. What a great loss to the parishioners of those churches. Wouldn't you rather have advance warning of a hurricane or tornado so you can take action to protect yourself and your family? Passiontide is like a warning trumpet calling people in danger to wake up and take action.

Will the statues be veiled in your church?

Lent is all about listening to the message of the precursor, John the Baptist, i.e.. "Repent and hear the good news." So how are you going to enter more fully into these final days of Lent? I will be reflecting on that today on this vigil of Passion Sunday.

Lord Jesus, come. Fill our hearts and minds with an increasing love for you and desire to do Your will.

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