It has been far to long since I last posted here. I about six months ago, I was given a new responsibility which has taken up a lot of my time.
I would like to share with you something that has puzzled me for years. Last Saturday finally my puzzle was solved. On the fifth Sunday in Lent, I have always liked the practise of veiling the crucifix and other images in the church with purple cloths. I always thought it had to do with the time in Lent when the focus of the gospel readings were preparing us for the commemoration of the passion and death of Our Lord and that the purple veils would highlight this.
On the Saturday of the fourth week of Lent, I read this excerpt from the Catholic Encyclopaedia at that excellent blog, Roma Locuta Est:
“The crosses are veiled because Christ during this time no longer walked openly among the people, but hid himself. Hence in the papal chapel the veiling formerly took place at the words of the Gospel: ‘Jesus autem abscondebat se.’ Another reason is added by Durandus, namely that Christ’s divinity was hidden when he arrived at the time of His suffering and death. The images of the saints also are covered because it would seem improper for the servants to appear when the Master himself is hidden.”
When I was preparing for the Latin Mass in the Extraordinary Form for Passion Sunday (the fifth Sunday of Lent), I noticed that the Gospel reading contained the following words:
“Jesus said to them, ‘Very truly, I tell you, before Abraham was, I am.’. So they picked up stones to throw at him, but Jesus hid himself and went out of the temple.” (John 8:58-59)
Through this striking change in the look of he church, we have an example of how the Roman liturgy, and especially the Extraordinary Form, helps us enter more deeply into the events that we commemorate through the liturgy and also makes the biblical texts more memorable.
In the Ordinary Form of the Mass, that Gospel containing the words “Jesus hid Himself” is moved from the Sunday to Thursday of the fifth week of Lent.
I am glad that in my parish I have the opportunity to celebrate both forms of the Roman Rite. If more people
had access to the Extraordinary Form, it would enrich their appreciation for the Roman Rite and “…the two Forms of the usage of the Roman Rite can be mutually enriching…” as Pope Benedict expressed in the letter to the bishops of the world that accompanied the Motu proprio ‘Summorum Pontificum’.