Once I was a clever boy learning the arts of Oxford... is a quotation from the verses written by Bishop Richard Fleming (c.1385-1431) for his tomb in Lincoln Cathedral. Fleming, the founder of Lincoln College in Oxford, is the subject of my research for a D. Phil., and, like me, a son of the West Riding. I have remarked in the past that I have a deeply meaningful on-going relationship with a dead fifteenth century bishop... it was Fleming who, in effect, enabled me to come to Oxford and to learn its arts, and for that I am immensely grateful.

Friday, 30 March 2012

Passiontide veiling

Last year I published the following three posts reflecting upon the use and history of Passiontide veiling and the use of the Lenten array in churches: Passiontide veils and Lenten array, Vexilla regis prodeunt and Lenten array - a further observation.

This year, in addition to drawing attention to what I wrote then, I would put on record points made in recent homilies I have heard at the Oxford Oratory.

The first draws attention to Our Lord hiding himself from the crowd who wished to stone him in the Temple when He asserted His Divinity as recorded by St John. This was the conclusion of the traditional Gospel reading for Passion Sunday, and seen as the inspiration for Christ's image being hidden until its solemn unveiling in the Passion Liturgy of Good Friday. Only then do we truly see Christ and his love for us.

The second gloss on the practice is that it is a reminder of Christ the High Priest going through and beyond the Curtain of the Temple to offer Himself once for all in His Passion as the all sufficient sacrifice. So, as in the Epistle to the Hebrews, Christ enters once and for all into the Holy of Holies in the self-immolation of the Triduum, only to be disclosed on Good Friday with the unveiling of the Cross, just as the veil of the Temple is recorded as being torn when Our Lord died on the first Good Friday.

I had not heard or seen these two notions expounded so clearly before, and they complement and expand the ideas of excluding other, distracting images, of a visual fasting from images and that of lamentation. The richness of the imagery of Passiontide is thereby enhanced.

The New Litirgical Movement blogv has two striking photographs of churches with Passiontide veiling, one in the USA, and the other in Italy which can be seen at Some Passiontide Photos.

No comments: