Wednesday, 7 May 2008

The Tabernacle Veil

Today, for the first time in recent memory, the doors of the tabernacle are veiled. The age-old practice of veiling the tabernacle has not been observed in the Cathedral for many years, but as of this morning it is restored! Due to the size of the tabernacle and its shape, only the doors have been veiled. The colour of the veil changes to match the liturgical colours worn by the priest. The tabernacle veil derives from Old Testament times, when the Holy of Holies in the Temple was veiled. The veil therefore became a sign of God's presence; it was in the Holy of Holies that God Himself dwelt. Today, the Lord is to be found in the tabernacle, and the veil is the sign of His presence.

In the Cathedral, it has the added effect of making the tabernacle more visible, perhaps even more prominent. Even from the far end of the church, the veil clearly shows. The differing colours of the veil will also serve as a reminder of the liturgical seasons and feasts of the Church, for those who visit outside of Mass.

The veil is the primary symbol of Christ's presence in the tabernacle. The sanctuary lamps, which burn nearby, are in the first place a sign of the Church's continual prayer in the presence of the Lord.