The 5th Sunday of Lent, March 25th in 2012, is often known as Passion Sunday. We are still in Lent, but begin to observe Passiontide, marking a clear change of mood in the Church’s Liturgy, as we focus more clearly on the Passion of Jesus. With him we journey to the Cross, and to the empty tomb.
Like many Churches, we mark this distinct change of tempo by Veiling, or removing, Crucifixes and Statues in our Churches. This is an ancient practice which might seem puzzling at first. Surely, it is at this time that we ought above all to be mindful of Jesus' offering of himself for us – that is, to see the Cross?
There are a number of reasons for this practice, but at its heart, it is done for the same reason as giving up other things in Lent – the use of ‘Alleluia’, and the Hymn of Praise, the ‘Gloria’; the value is found in their restoration on Easter Day. Veiling for the final two weeks of Lent means for us that we are more aware than ever of the great hanging Roods, the Crucifixes that hang over the chancel in both of our churches. There we see the love of God shining out for us, in the Crucifixion of his Son, and in the faithful witness of his Blessed Mother and the beloved Disciple, a picture recorded for us in St John’s Gospel.
The Great Rood in St Mary's, Elland