The last two weeks of Lent are traditionally known as Passiontide and they are a time to prepare ourselves more earnestly for the Passion and Death of Jesus. The week before Holy Week is traditionally known as Passion Week and for more traditional Catholics, it is used as a preparation for Holy Week, a time set aside to get our minds and hearts ready for what is to come, much like the season of Septuagesima is a precursor for Lent. During this time, changes are made in the churches and in the liturgy to remind us that we are getting closer to the most solemn time of the year so that we can focus our minds and examine our consciences in order to participate more fully and also be able to celebrate Easter more completely. The crucifixes and statues in the church are usually covered, and the Glory Be’s are taken out of the Mass (although in the Novus Ordo rite, these changes may not take place until Holy Week). Why do we do this?
When we hide the physical statues and take a prayer acknowledging God’s glory out of the Mass, we do it to “hide God” in a sense and remind ourselves that His glory and honor are about to be hidden from us when He suffers cruel torture and death for our sake. The sadness we feel seeing these changes and realizing their necessity also invites us to reflect on our part in His Passion, since our sins did cause this dishonor to God made man. We may also feel a sense of loneliness when we see the crucifixes and statues covered, and we are reminded that Christ also felt lonely during His Passion and we can reflect on this and unite our loneliness and sadness with His, helping Him to carry His cross and undergoing His Passion with Him. Like the covering of the statues, the absence of the Glory Be may fill us with feelings of sadness and loneliness as we reflect on the absence of the feeling of glory and honor that belongs to God. Of course, these will always belong to Him but God allows them to be temporarily hidden from us in order to bring us salvation and give His Son Jesus Christ an even greater glory once He has risen. And in fact, it is interesting to note that we acknowledge this temporarily hidden glory even outside of Lent whenever we pray the Chaplet of Divine Mercy. After the Our Father and Hail Mary, usually the Glory Be is said, but in the Chaplet of Divine Mercy, it is replaced by the Creed. This is because the Chaplet is a prayer revolving around Jesus’s Passion and Death and so His glory is hidden from us. Meditating on this loss of His glory and honor, at least on a human level, during the last two weeks of Lent shows us even more of the love that God has for us.
As the end of Lent and the beginning of the Sacred Triduum approaches, take time to reflect on these changes and how they help us to commemorate the Passion and Death of Christ. We should let the feelings of sadness and loneliness that may arise unite us to Him as we offer them in reparation for our sins and those of the world. Doing this will help us truly be ready to suffer with Him on Calvary on Good Friday and rise with Him on Easter Sunday.