Today in our parish Church, the statues and crucifixes were veiled in purple for Passiontide.
I have always loved this, since I was a child.
I was told - and I have no idea if this is true or pious legend, and nor do I care - that it was because of the final line of today’s Gospel (in the traditional Mass): 'Jesus hid Himself, and went out from the temple.'
What I do know is that it makes the symbolism of the progressive unveiling of the Cross on Good Friday particularly potent; and then on Easter Sunday, when the statues are all unveiled, the glory of the Risen Christ’s CHurch shines forth with a new splendour.
It is a sad reflection on the heady days of liturgical reform that in the drive to simplify the Mass, many churches abandoned this time-honoured tradition. The irony is that the simplification left the liturgy so denuded of symbolism and ritual that people had to start to invent new things to fill the void. Many of these were far poorer than the traditions they replaced, and some - such as putting sand in the holy water stoups during Lent - were quite wrong-headed.
But at least in our Church the Passiontide veils live on; poignant reminders of the sombre aspect of this season, but also hinting at the glory to be revealed at Easter.