Traditional Latin Mass homily for Passiontide Sunday:
"Going back to the 3rd Century, today marks the beginning of “Passiontide”, a mini-season which begins with Passion Sunday. A very striking way this is demonstrated is the practice of covering or veiling the Crucifix, statues and holy pictures within the Church with violet/purple cloth – as asign of mourning. This practice originated in Rome, where the images in the papal chapel were veiled immediately after the deacon proclaimed today’s Gospel which conclude with the words, “Jesus hid Himself and went out of the temple.” (Jn 8:59) So the focus from today until Easter has traditionally been on the Sacred Passion of our Lord. With the exception of the veneration of the Crucifix on Good Friday, the sacred images wouldn’t be seen again until the celebration of our Lord’s Glorious Resurrection on Easter. Certainly, we could also cover the sacred images in our homes with purple cloth as a frequent stark reminder to focus on the passion of our Lord!
The traditional practice has always been that boys and men uncover their heads when entering the Church as a sign of humility and reverence to our Lord. St. Paul says that fathers and husbands - who are heads of their families - are to uncover their heads in Church to humble themselves before Christ, who is their head. Since the early Church, Religious sisters and nuns traditionally have worn a veil as part of their habit as a sign of humility and purity and to show that they have consecrated themselves to Christ, their spiritual spouse. Until recently it was the unbroken tradition of the Church, following the writings of St. Paul, that girls and women who are not religious, wear a chapel veil – also known by its Spanish name, mantilla– or some other dignified hat - whenever they entered a Catholic Church. St. Paul argues for the use of veils especially based on the order of creation and headship. Contrary to the feminist view, covering her hair does not mean a girl or woman is ashamed of her feminine beauty, but that, following the example of our Lord in the Gospel, during divine worship, she is covering her physical glory so that God ALONE may be glorified. Furthermore, the veil fittingly expresses the dignity of woman as a life-bearing vessel. The Church veils only the sacred, such as the tabernacle, ciborium, and the chalice in the 1st part of the Mass. These sacred vessels hold the Most Blessed Sacrament, which contains Life itself. Similarly, woman was created with the privilege of bearing human life. So men and women, though equal in dignity, are distinct and so show respect and love to God in different ways. For the Catholic girl or woman, the veil is a symbol of her unique feminine dignity as an adopted daughter of God the Father. So, the chapel veil, though now apparently optional like so many other venerable traditions of Holy Mother Church – such as the biretta, is still very fittingly worn by girls and woman whenever they enter in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament. Also some women profit from wearing a veil during other times of prayer at home, such as the Rosary or mental prayer. The veil can also encourage girls and women to imitate the perfect model for modesty, purity, and femininity - our Blessed Mother..."