We will soon be commemorating Holy Week and the Paschal Mystery (the passion, death and Resurrection) of Jesus. It will begin this coming Sunday with the Palm Sunday liturgy. Once again, with the kind assistance of Jeff Dirks and Joseph Koch, we will try to post the Mass on the parish and school website.
I have been asked about whether or not blessed palms will be available. The simple answer is that they will not. According to the rubrics for the Palm Sunday liturgy, palms are not to be blessed unless a congregation is present. At the Palm Sunday Mass we hold the palms to remind ourselves of what the crowd did when they greeted Jesus as he came into Jerusalem. The Gospel according to John tells us that the crowd waved palm branches or placed them before Jesus as he entered the Royal City of Jerusalem. The palms were waving as the crowd shouted “Hosanna to the Son of David.”
This might be a good time to remind ourselves why we use palms on Palm Sunday. Palms were the symbol of joyful victory. The crowd of disciples who waved palm branches did so because they believed that Jesus was truly the long-awaited Messiah. When we use blessed palms, it is also meant to be a symbol of victory – the victory of Jesus over sin and death which he accomplished from the Cross. Likewise, we believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Christ who is the Anointed One of God. Remember, use of palms is not something magical – rather, it is a symbol of our faith and as a witness to faith in Jesus Christ as Messiah and king.
We are currently deprived of the Mass in the way we had been accustomed. This year we will also go without blessed palms. However, if you are able, please watch the Palm Sunday liturgy and let this Holy Week have special meaning for your life. There are many options available and we will continue to make the Sunday liturgy available on our parish website as one of the options for you.
This entire parish is daily a part of my prayer. The situation with regard to COVID-19 may worsen – that is what we continue to hear. Nevertheless, God is with us no matter what the future holds. As we enter into Holy Week, may we be open to a deeper understanding of the Paschal Mystery of Christ and what that means for us. God bless us all.