Pick a branch, Any Branch

Carmel Bulletin, 4 March 2018

Sometimes we can get really hung up on words.

Take “Palm” Sunday for example.  Yes, it was a practice in Palestine in Jesus’ time to use palm branches to welcome dignitaries.  Yet, when looking through a reputable Bible translation, only the gospel according to John specifically names palm branches.  In the same translation, Matthew mentions branches, Mark mentions leafy branches (or greenery), and Luke doesn’t mention branches at all.

Parishioners with palm and olive branches on Palm SundayThe point of the text – and our ritual practice nowadays on Palm Sunday – is not the type of plant, but the purpose of the action.  The people of Jerusalem were welcoming a King.  We too give glory, praise and honour to our King.  While many of us are used to doing this by using palms, some use olive branches (remember that Jesus entered Jerusalem via the Mount of Olives), while people in other parts of the world today would use what is available to them.

So this year, on Palm Sunday, we invite you to bring your own cutting of a branch, from any tree or plant, to use as we commemorate Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem.  We would also greatly appreciate it if you can bring some palms or some other branches for people who don’t have any.  In this way, we can make the honouring and praising of Christ, our King, very much our own in this place and time.

Recalling Palm Sunday

Carmel Bulletin, 27 April 2014

We have recently celebrated again the liturgies of Holy Week and the Easter Triduum.  The first of these was the celebration of Palm Sunday.

The full title of this day, as provided in the Missal, shows us exactly what we celebrate on this day.  Palm Sunday of the Passion of the Lord invites us all to celebrate not only the triumphant entry of Christ into Jerusalem, but also the events of the days that followed; his passion and death.

Palm Sunday ProcessionIt is in the Introductory Rites of the Mass for Palm Sunday that we celebrate the actual ‘Palm Sunday’.  This can take the form of a procession at the principal Mass of the Sunday (as it does here at 9:00 am), or with a simple or solemn entrance (as we celebrate from the narthex) at the other Masses of the Sunday.  We begin with the antiphon that quotes directly from the gospel, “Hosanna to the Son of David…” (Mt 21:9).  We bless the palms (or olive branches or other greenery) that we will use and take home with us.  We listen to the account of Jesus’ entry to Jerusalem from the gospels, and then proceed into the church “like the crowds that acclaimed Jesus in Jerusalem.”  Song is an important part of the entrance and procession.

Palms and Olive branches at Palm Sunday ProcessionThe palm or other branch we take with us on the day serves as a sign to us long after Holy Week has ended, but not the sole point of the rites we celebrate.  The Vatican Directory on Popular Piety and the Liturgy states:

The faithful, however, should be instructed as to the meaning of this celebration so that they might grasp its significance. They should be opportunely reminded that the important thing is participation at the procession and not only the obtaining of palm or olive branches… Palms and olive branches are kept in the home as a witness to faith in Jesus Christ, the messianic king, and in his Paschal Victory. (article 139)

Finally, I would like to echo Fr Paul’s words of thanks to those who were involved in the celebrations of Holy Week and the Easter Triduum.

View our Palm Sunday photo album: facebook | flickr

29/1/12 – Palms and Ashes

AshesThe season of Lent will begin in just over three weeks.  Despite it not being a holy day obligation, many Catholics take time to participate in the liturgical celebrations of Ash Wednesday, the first day of the season.  As its name suggests, ashes are a symbol synonymous with this day.

On Ash Wednesday, we are marked with ashes in the form of a cross.  Wearing ashes is a penitential practice that finds its origins in early biblical times.  Ashes serve as external sign of our internal penance, and desire for a change of heart.  Traditionally, the ashes are make by burning the palms from Palm Sunday the previous year.

As in previous years, we invite you to bring your palm from last year back to the church and place it in the basket in the parish centre.  We will burn these palms and use them for our Ash Wednesday celebrations.

 

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