Covering the crucifix

In Paul Turner's Blog by Paul Turner

Q:  Our Parish covers our crucifix and statues on the Friday before the 5th Sunday of Lent following the Mass celebrated after the Stations of the Cross. I was at another church for confession prior to the Vigil Mass of the 5th Sunday and their crucifix and statues were covered. Last year, we attended the Tuesday weekday Mass prior to Palm Sunday and no statues or crucifixes were covered. All three churches are in the same diocese. While searching for answers, I find conflicting responses from seemingly reputable websites on the practice and timing for covering statues and crucifixes and I am not finding much more in my or the USCCB copy of the GIRM.

The first question is when is it appropriate to cover or veil and as a follow up, what are the allowed exceptions.

The second question is if the cross is veiled – is a crucifix present. Possibly followed up by, if a veiled cross does not constitute a crucifix present – how can we celebrate Mass.

A:  In the Roman Missal you can find this heading for the Fifth Sunday of Lent:

In the Dioceses of the United States, the practice of covering crosses and images throughout the church from this Sunday may be observed. Crosses remain covered until the end of the Celebration of the Lord’s Passion on Good Friday, but images remain covered until the beginning of the Easter Vigil.

The practice is accepted, but not obligatory. That may explain the variations that you’ve seen.

I don’t think the liturgical books answer your second question, but in my view leaving the main crucifix unveiled is more proper to the mass. It would make little sense, for example, to incense a veiled crucifix during the celebration of mass.