Visual silence also brings the Christian deeply into the Paschal Mystery. By ancient tradition we drape images in purple from Passion Sunday to Easter Sunday. In my parish we pray morning and evening prayer in front of a large image of Our Lady. Our parish iconographer, Pavel Tikhomirov, wrote this icon two years ago in deep blue on brilliant gold leaf. The image brings mother and child into dynamic visual presence between ambo and altar. We turn to this image to pray the angelus every morning, noon, and evening.
On Passion Sunday I took my usual place in the front pew to do my holy hour. I turned to the icon to greet Our Lady and her Son, but they were not there! Mind and body were briefly disoriented. Where was I? What day was it? Was I in the right church? Not content with simply draping the image, our valiant sacristan had removed it entirely. A great hole gaped back at me, an emptiness that leads into the Paschal Mystery. For in truth, I must become blind before I can see. I must become empty before I can be filled. I must die before I can live.
It is good, at certain times of the year, to keep silence and stillness. Only in deep stillness can we perceive God’s presence in the world now and recognize his definitive return at the end of time.