Holy Week Quotes: Fr. Tim Fountain on the tradition of veiling crosses during Holy Week

April 17, 2014

At Stand Firm, there is wonderful commentary from the Rev. Tim Fountain about the symbolism and significance of the common Anglican practice of veiling the cross during Holy Week:

There’s a certain contradiction or at least irony in the tradition.  We are proclaiming the cross, after all, and with intensity in Lent and Holy Week as we look at the burden of our sins and the Lord’s gift of his body and blood for the forgiveness of same.  […]  So why veil what we’re so busy exalting?

My working answer is that veiling the cross does exalt it, via a negative path.  Hiding it reveals a tremendous absence, “What if the cross of Christ never existed?  What if that reference point didn’t exist for our understanding of life?  What if that sign never intruded into history and culture?”

I worked questions like those into a Lenten sermon decades ago.  I still remember a woman who came up after and said, “I felt all the air go out of the church when I thought about those questions you asked.  They were terrifying.”

So there’s power in veiling crosses for Lent.  It intensifies big questions, “What if we are left in our sins and our own self-justifying efforts to ‘balance them out?’  What if there’s no decisive God-given remedy for the human dilemma?”

And in aggravating that tension, the veiled cross sets up the strong medicine of Good Friday and the glorious recovery announced at Easter…

Go read the full entry.

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