Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Ask a Catholic: Why are our statues covered?

On Sunday at Mass, I noticed that the statues in the church were covered with purple cloths. Is there a reason for this?

Glad you asked. The Fifth Sunday of Lent is also first Sunday of Passiontide - the final two weeks of Lent when the daily Mass readings place a stronger emphasis on the growing tensions between Christ and the Jewish authorities in the days before his suffering and death (i.e. "Passion"). It is ancient custom to veil the images in the church in violet (the liturgical color of Lent) during this time - most especially statues and crucifixes - because these are images of heavenly glory, reminders of the eternal joy that awaits the saints of God. The veils over these images will remain in place until after the service on Good Friday, when they are removed without ceremony. In effect, just as we have been fasting throughout the Lenten season, now we fast even from heavenly images during the last and most intense stage of Lent, as we prepare to enter into Holy Week.