I'm not sure how I managed to eat something that made me sick during days of fasting, but I did. The Poor Souls in Purgatory greatly benefited from my bout with food poisoning, not only from my own suffering, but also that of poor Sister St. Aloysius, who had two invalids in her care. Although, between fasting and my lack of ability to eat, she had a easy time in the kitchen at least. However, when they say, "God never closes a door without opening a window" I don't think this is what they mean. At all.
So here I am with a PILE of questions from readers. As I am a bit light headed, we'll just chase some grounders. Unfortunately, then we descend into the meat and potatoes of Holy Week, so we'll go dark until Easter. Feel free to keep the questions coming, though. I'll catch up while biting the ears off a chocolate rabbit and feasting on my favorite treat, deviled eggs. Ironic name.
My question is, why do we cover the statues this last week before Easter? (It used to be two weeks and I remember the ushers going along with long poles and removing them.) I should have had sense enough when a child asked me Monday to look it up before another one asked on Tuesday.
The easy answer is that we do that do turn our focus to the Passion of Jesus.
Which, frankly doesn't make sense to me altogether, since the whole reason for having statues is to help us keep our focus on Jesus, by remembering people who did that and examining how they did it and drawing strength from them.
Perhaps we are finally more closely aligned with the thinking of our separated brethren. During Holy Week, it's all about Jesus, period.
There's more to it than that, however. For one thing, it's up to the local Bishops as to what gets covered and when. There are different traditions and practices in different places. Some churches actually remove all the statues. Some cover them for the whole of Lent, some just for Holy Week. Some leave the statues alone and only cover the crucifixes. This is the most common practice, as the crucifix is then slowly revealed during the Good Friday service. Which doesn't make much sense if it wasn't covered in the first place.
Also, the origin of this tradition is in--well, not debate exactly. There is just more than one explanation and I'm not sure any one is definitive.
Remember that at one time in the history of the church we didn't have confessionals and penitents couldn't even enter the Church building? No? Here you go. Later, the entire congregation became penitents on Ash Wednesday, so everyone was cut off' from the altar during Lent and the whole altar was covered with a giant purple drape that was ripped open on Good Friday, just like in the Gospel when the Temple veil was ripped.
Having a giant purple curtain cutting us off from "God" is, symbolically speaking, the essence of Lent. Our sins keep us from God, this is our focus. This tradition changed to covering the statues and the crucifixes.
However, I did hear another explanation for the covering of the crucifix, which I'm sure has some validity. In the very early Church, crucifixes were ornate, jewel encrusted things. It made sense to cover them during Lent, and the tradition of covering them stayed after crucifixes became more plain and ever more graphic.
I think seeing the practice in this historic context gives us a better sense of what we mean by "focusing on the Passion of Christ". It would seem that looking at a crucifix would be the very best way to focus on the Passion of Christ, don't you think? Unless you fully take into account why Christ had to have a Passion, our sins, which cut us off from God, although He is there always, behind the curtain of our sins.