Sunday, April 1, 2007

Palm Sunday of the Lord's Passion

Palm Sunday of the Lord's Passion

So they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet him, crying, "Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel!" And Jesus found a young ass and sat upon it; as it is written, "Fear not, daughter of Zion; behold, your king is coming, sitting on an ass's colt (Jn 12:13-15)!"

Today we commemorate Christ's entry into Jerusalem for the completion of the Paschal Mystery. In the old calendar before Vatican II, the Church celebrated Passion Sunday two Sundays before Easter, and then Palm Sunday was the beginning of Holy Week. The Church has combined the two to reinforce the solemnity of Holy Week.

The Palm Sunday procession is formed of Christians who, in the "fullness of faith," make their own the gesture of the Jews and endow it with its full significance. Following the Jews' example we proclaim Christ as a Victor... Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is He who comes in the Name of the Lord. But by our faith we know, as they did not, all that His triumph stands for. He is the Messiah, the Son of David and the Son of God. He is the sign of contradiction, acclaimed by some and reviled by others. Sent into this world to wrest us from sin and the power of Satan, He underwent His Passion, the punishment for our sins, but issues forth triumphant from the tomb, the victor over death, making our peace with God and taking us with Him into the kingdom of His Father in heaven.

Blessed Palms in the Home

The procession at Mass with the palms was a public display of homage and loyalty to Christ our King and Redeemer. Christ is the King of our home, so we should incorporate the blessed palms and a family prayer service as part of this day.

Palm trees aren't readily available in some vicinities, there are other plants like olive branches, box, yew, spruce, willows and pussy-willows that are blessed and used the same way as palms for Passion Sunday.

Reverence for Blessed Palms
Because the palms are blessed, they are now sacramentals, which "are sacred signs instituted by the Church. They prepare [us] to receive the fruit of the sacraments and sanctify different circumstances of life" (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1667). Sacramentals should be treated with respect and never be thrown away. Palms may only be burned or buried.

Palm Crosses
Family members can gather the palms from Mass and make little palm crosses, one for each member of the family and one for each room in the house. There are a variety of ways to make the cross. The simplest is to take two small pieces, one a little longer than the other, crisscross the pieces in shape of a cross and staple at the middle. Another way is to make two small slits near the top (where the crossbeam would be) in the longer piece of palm and slide the cross beam through the slits. This could be a challenging project for the family members to try various methods.
Each person is given a palm cross to wear on their coats or clothing throughout Holy Week, to remind us to carry our cross patiently so we may share Christ's Easter glory.

Prayer Service
The family then gathers together. The father reads the account of the entry of Jesus into Jerusalem (from the Gospel of Mark 11:1-10 or Matt 21:1-11 or John 12:12-16 or Luke 19:28-40). Then the mother, with a lighted candle, leads the procession through all the rooms of the house. All sing the hymn All Glory, Laud and Honor and place a palm cross either above the door in each room, or behind the crucifix.

Palm Weaving

Palm Weaving is a tradition found in many countries, such as Italy, Philippines, and Poland. Here are some links for instructions, from the simple cross to the elaborate flowers.

Check here for an excellent and step by step article about Palm Weaving.

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