Friday, 9 April 2010

A veiled monstrance on Maundy Thursday

On Good Friday, having watched the rehearsal for the Passion Play in Trafalgar Square, I went to the Stations of the Cross in the evening in a nearby parish. An interesting invitation was extended at the end of the Stations to visit what was in effect the altar of repose in a Chapel beside the main church. The priest described the Blessed Sacrament being presented in a monstrance that was veiled.

Two things struck me at the time as being "unusual" (by which I mean un-rubrical). One was the idea of adoration continuing from the night of Maundy Thursday, through Good Friday and on into Holy Saturday. There was certainly a very strong sense of the "waiting for the Resurrection", a vigil, but it all seemed to miss the sense of "absence" of the Lord that is the liturgical sense of these days. The second was the idea of using a veiled monstrance for the Blessed Sacrament at the altar of repose.

I was reminded of this when I saw Young Fogey's photographs of the decorations of his Church for Maundy Thursday. The relief of the Last Supper on the altar comes into its own on this day; the last photograph shows a veiled monstrance on the altar of repose.


B flat said...

This unusual practice is universal in Poland, and also found in other Eastern European countries. The spread of Polish emigration, including their priests, has brought this tradition to other parts of the world.

A sepulchre is constructed for Good Friday, and Christ is depicted in the tomb, with the veiled monstrance placed there until the Resurrection Service on Saturday night. People come with their Easter (non-fasting) foods to be blessed by the priest, and pray at the tomb, before the Blessed Sacrament. An honour guard is usually in place: scouts, the police, fire service, army cadets, students, youth and other groups, taking turns. This is a centuries-old tradition, very similar to the central place given to the "Tomb" in the Russian Orthodox Church on Good Friday evening from Vespers until the midnight service late on Holy Saturday.

You can see clear examples here:

It's not in the spirit of the modern Roman liturgical rubrics, but the whole Catholic Church in Poland and around the world is either exempt or immune to observing them in this case.

Joe said...

Thank you for this informative comment; I had been hoping someone would shed some light on this for me. It all seems to reflect an intersection of the strictly liturgical and the devotional.

The parish I visited for Stations is staffed by Polish priests from the Missionaries of La Salette....