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Heaven and Earth Meet

THE SIGNIFICANCE OF THE VEIL

The sanctuary area of any Catholic church is the most holy place in all the earth. It is the dwelling place of the body of Christ, God himself. To help us understand how holy God’s dwelling place on earth in his sanctuary is, the Chaldean Catholic Church has had a tradition of placing a veil between the sanctuary area where the altar is and where the people sit.

 The idea behind this beautiful tradition is that God’s sanctuary is heaven and the place where the congregation sits can be seen as earth. In the mass, heaven and earth meet, and God allows humanity to join and participate in his Divine Life by receiving his Body and Blood in the Holy Eucharist. It is for this reason that all the churches in the Chaldean Catholic Diocese of St. Peter the Apostle have veils.

   People may object to the veil and say that the Church is separating God from the people, and to them I would ask a simple question: When you go into your room, do you leave your door open, or do you close it? The sanctuary is the room of God, and instead of humans being separate from it, we have the utmost privilege of entering it, and that is the symbolic meaning of the veil. God opens the door of his room to us and we enter it in the mass. He allows us the greatest honor and gift of uniting ourselves to him and entering his holy sanctuary. Mar Sarhad Yawsip Jammo has described the veil as being like the Heart of Jesus. The Heart of Jesus opens up to us out of pure love. It is pure love that God came down to earth and became man and it is pure love that he becomes a piece of bread for us in the Eucharist, allowing his people to be perfectly united to him.