Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Veiled thoughts


I have been think about veils lately, partly because I found some cloth of gold, the type of stuff that is made of silk thread covered in strips of gold leafed paper before it is then woven into cloth, with fine gilded wire, not your cheap tinsel stuff. Someone in the parish is going to make a veil for the tabernacle. Tabernacle of course means tent of course, so it is appropriate that cloth comes in somewhere. I think the rules are that unless it is of great artistic merit, the tabernacle should be veiled. The veiled tabernacle always reminds me of the Temple Veil before the Holy of Holies, especially if it is two parts, "torn from top to bottom".

There was this a little bit on the Anchoress about the Humeral Veil, the long shawl like piece of cloth that is used at Benediction and that the subdeacon uses in the Extraordinary Use to hold paten:

Most lay people, and even most priests, believe the minister uses it because he is unworthy to touch the monstrance or get that close to the Blessed Sacrament. Considering that the priest or deacon places the host in the monstrance, and later reposes it in the tabernacle, that’s not quite accurate. And neither is the notion that it’s just an additional sign of reverence.
So why does he use it?
It is to separate himself from the act of blessing.
The priest or deacon blesses the faithful with the Blessed Sacrament — but by wrapping his hands in the humeral veil, he signifies his own removal from the action.
He doesn’t bless the people. Christ does.


I have used a chalice veil ever since I had my own parish, partly to emphasise the holiness of the chalice and as sign of continuity, the New General Instruction of the Missal speaks of its use as being "meritorious", but also out of respect for other rites. In the Byzantine Rite is shaken over the elements during the Eucharistic Prayer as a sign of the Epiklesis, the action of the Holy Spirit. In the Syro-Malabar Rite it is rolled up, and place in the shape of a horseshoe to symbolise Christ's tomb.


I found a very interesting picture of an Orthodox deacon's ordination, where his head is covered, with an "aer" an orthodox chalice veil, as he stands with his family before being called by the bishop. It is again the separation of the sacred and the profane, which takes place at ordination. I don't know it it has a connection with English Benedictine
Monks being hooded for days after their Solemn Profession.

5 comments:

Mrs Jackie Parkes MJ said...

i'm afraid it looks a bit ridiculous to me!

the owl of the remove said...

I believe 'Redemptionis Sacramentum' said that we now should use the chalice veil - it's fun to try and find them stuffed in a drawer at the bottom of the sacristy.

Moretben said...

The chapter in Mosebach's Heresy of Formlessness, on "revelation through veiling" is very good on this.

Anonymous said...

what about passiontide veils can you explain?

Fr Ray Blake said...

Lenten veiling of statues, presumamly is related to the time - my childhood actually - when pictures and mirrors were covered during mourning, curtains were drawn and bereaved women wore veils, a very normal act of seperation - maybe to heighten the sense of the sacred.