From the Pastor -Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion – April 9, 2017

From the Pastor



Palm Sunday of

the Lord’s Passion



April 9, 2017


To enter into Holy Week today and the Sacred Paschal Triduum on Holy Thursday, I’ll reflect on three parts of today’s Mass: the Brief Address
or Introduction and two options for the Blessing of Palm Branches which help us understand the liturgical significance of the unique start of holy Mass on Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion.


Brief Address – Introduction to Passion [Palm] Sunday


Dear brothers and sisters, since the beginning

of Lent until now, we have prepared our hearts by penance and charitable works.

Today we gather together to herald with the whole Church the beginning of the

Celebration of our Lord’s Paschal Mystery,

that is to say, of his Passion and Resurrection.

For it was to accomplish this mystery

that he entered his own city of Jerusalem.

Therefore, with all faith and devotion, let us commemorate the Lord’s entry into the city for our salvation, following in his footsteps, so that, being made by his grace partakers of the Cross,

we may have a share also

in his Resurrection and in his life.


There’s a subtle but significant difference between what the Church calls a Commemoration and a Celebration. To ‘commemorate’
means to solemnly recall an event, often with sober sadness, as we do on 9-11, Memorial Day, December 7, D-Day, etc. But we ‘celebrate’
days like Independence Day, Thanksgiving and other truly joyful events. Today the Church does both.


First, we ‘commemorate’
our Lord’s festive entrance into ‘his own city,’
the ‘City of David’
or Jerusalem, for His Passion, Death and Resurrection. But what we ‘celebrate’ is far more important! For Catholic liturgy does not simply recall past events; our ‘sacred mysteries’ have the power to ‘make present again’ what happened 2,000 year ago – so that we can partake in it. For Christ wills to be invited into our city, our home, our heart, so we can ‘die with Him so as to rise with Him.’
That gives a whole different ‘twist’ to what we ‘commemorate’ and ‘celebrate’ today.

Blessing of Palm Branches – A – Passion [Palm] Sunday


Almighty ever-living God, sanctify + these branches with your blessing, that we, who follow Christ the King in exultation,

may reach the eternal Jerusalem through him.

Who lives and reigns for ever and ever. Amen.


The first option for the Palm Blessing focuses on the branches; but we who hold and display these blessed branches
must seriously ask ourselves: are we like those on that first Palm Sunday, who proudly used branches to hail Christ as their King … only to call for His crucifixion a few days later? Do we also allow political agendas, cultural pressures, societal norms or other things to lessen Christ’s influence over us … or to even eliminate Him from our life, our country, or our world? This oration then assures us that if we ‘follow Christ’ we will reach ‘the eternal Jerusalem.’
What comfort to know that Jesus goes before us, to prepare our way, to warn us of pitfalls or dangers, and to one day welcome us home!


Blessing of Palm Branches – B – Passion [Palm] Sunday


Increase the faith of those who

place their hope in you, O God, and graciously hear the prayers of those who call on you,

that we, who today hold high these branches

to hail Christ in his triumph, may bear fruit for you by good works accomplished in him.

Who lives and reigns for ever and ever. Amen.


The second option for the Palm Blessing likens the branches to a flag or sports team pennant. We ‘hold high’
or wave such outward signs to show we belong to that nation or, give our heart to that country, root for that team, and consider ourselves ‘one’ with them. So, too, our palm branches. But is that true?


If we are truly on Christ’s team, we will do all we can to advance His cause, promote His Kingdom, instill His values, model His actions, live His love. One way to get ‘rallied’ up for these tasks is to attend every Holy Week event we can make! Will you do all you can to be with Christ as much as you can this most Holy Week?


In His holy Name,




Rev. Thomas J. Serafin, KHS