On this Sunday, the fifth Sunday of Lent, we veil the statues and images in the Church and either take down or veil the crucifixes. The crucifixes will be uncovered following the Solemn Service of the Lord’s Passion on Good Friday, and the rest of the statues will be uncovered before the Easter Vigil.
The tradition of veiling the statues during Lent is meant to be a visible symbol of the meaning of Lent. During Lent we are fasting and abstaining from meat on Fridays, and doing various other penitential practices, like giving up sweets or soft drinks. In the same way, we also fast visually by covering the beautiful statues and images in Church. Our fasting is meant to increase our hunger for the Lord; every time you feel your hunger during a fast or have a craving for something you’ve given up you should remember that you’re fasting out of love for God so that your physical hunger can increase your longing for the Lord. When we see the statues veiled during Lent, it should remind us of how beautiful the Church will be on Easter Sunday when the statues are revealed, the Church is clothed in white and gold, and flowers are brought back into the Church. The glory of the church building on Easter Sunday is but a pale reflection of the glory of Jesus Christ risen from the dead.
We also veil the statues as a sign of our separation from God. During Lent we should reflect on our sins and how they’ve offended God, repent of them, and seek conversion to the Lord. We recognize that our sins separate us from God, and that we are reconciled to God through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The statues of saints in the Church represent the saints in heaven; so, when they are veiled it shows us that sin separates us from heaven. Then, when the statues are unveiled for the Easter Vigil we see that the gates of heaven are opened to us through the death and Resurrection of Jesus, who shed His blood for the forgiveness of sins.
Whenever you come into Church and see the statues veiled, let that be a call to prayer, a call to repentance, and a call to hunger and thirst for the Lord.
Fr. Bryan became pastor of Our Lady of Lourdes on July 3, 2017. Read his bio here.