Catholics observe Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion today, considered the world over as a Sunday of the highest rank.
As has been the tradition, churchgoers will wave their palm fronds or “palaspas” as the mass celebrant makes his way inside the church in a procession in reenactment of Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem astride a donkey, where a huge jubilant crowd crying “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!” welcomed the Son of God (Matthew 21:1-9).
Priests in red vestments, the color of blood to symbolize the supreme redemptive sacrifices of Christ for mankind, will lead the principal religious ceremonies of the day that include the procession, the blessing of palms, followed by the Eucharistic celebration, and during the mass, the singing of the Passion of Christ, which recalls the final week of Jesus’ earthly journey.
The complete narrative of the Lord’s Passion is traditionally read “as a reminder of the complete obedience and submission of Christ to the will of the Father which, through His Holy Cross, brought salvation to the world.”
On church altars, branches of palaspas will be placed between the candlesticks instead of flowers. The blessing of palms follows a ritual similar to that of the mass.
Used as a sacramental by the faithful, the palm fronds are traditionally brought home and preserved in a prominent place such as in altars, near the door, or on window sills in the belief that “the right hand of God will expel all adversities, bless, and protect those who dwell in them who have been redeemed by our Lord Jesus Christ.”
The palm fronds are brought back to the church a year later to be burned for the Ash Wednesday service.
In Rome, Italy, a large crowd is expected to gather at the Saint Peter’s Square, where Pope Francis is set to bless palm fronds as he leads the procession at 9:30 a.m., to be followed by a holy mass. The faithful usually bring home the blessed olive and palm sprigs, as symbols of peace. The Holy Father is also set to pray the Angelus and give the papal blessing at 12 noon.
Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle will lead the Palm Sunday mass at the Manila Cathedral in Intramuros, Manila at 7 a.m.
Some parishes will bless palm fronds early in the day such as at the Quiapo Church in Manila where the faithful may bring their palm fronds as early as 4:30 a.m. at the Plaza Miranda for the traditional blessing.
This will be followed by a procession to the church for the holy mass. Twelve men dressed as Christ’s apostles traditionally join the procession. (Christina Hermoso)