Udupi/M’Belle: Palm Sunday signifying beginning of the Holy Week observed with devotion

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By Eugene DSouza
Bellevision Media Network

Udupi, 09 Apr 2017: Palm Sunday marking the beginning of the Holy Week was observed by Christians all over the world on Sunday, 9 April 2017. Palm Sunday is the final Sunday in the Lenten season, signifying the beginning of Holy Week. Holy Week is the week leading up to Easter and is held in remembrance of Jesus’ time in Jerusalem before he died and, according to Christianity, was resurrected.


Palm Sunday commemorates Jesus’ entrance into Jerusalem. As he rode into the city on a donkey, his followers spread palm branches at his feet and called him "Hosanna." Palm branches were considered symbols of victory and triumph at the time.


Days later, the people of Jerusalem would turn on Jesus and demand the Romans crucify him.


In St. Lawrence Church, Moodubelle, people holding coconut palms  gathered on the Cross Hill at 8 am. Fr. Clement Mascarenhas, Parish Priest, Fr. Lawrence Cutinha-Assistant Parish Priest, Fr. Alphonse D’Lima-Rector of Diocesan Minor Seminary and Br. Vijith Mathias (CSC) along with the altar servers assembled on the dais in front of the Cross.



Fr. Alphonse D’Lima read the passage from the  Gospel of St. Mathew (21:1-11), the triumphant entry of Jesus into Jerusalem as the King.


Giving a brief homily on the Gospel, Fr. D’Lima said that the people cut palm branches and waved them in the air, laid them out on the ground before Jesus as He rode into the city. The palm branch represented goodness and victory and was symbolic of the final victory that Jesus  would soon fulfil over death.


Jesus chose to ride in on a donkey, which directly fulfilled Old Testament prophecy. In Biblical times, it was common for kings or important people to arrive by a procession riding on a donkey. The donkey symbolized peace, so those who chose to ride them showed that they came with peaceful intentions. Jesus even then reminded us that Jesus is the Prince of Peace.


Fr. Clement Mascarenhas blessed the palms through incense and sprinkling of the holy water. Thereafter, people returned to the church in procession passing through the main road and entering the church through the main gate.


The Palm Sunday mass was concelebrated by Fr. Clement Mascarenhas, Fr. Lawrence Cutinha and Fr. Alphonse D’Lima. The Gospel of the day, the Passion of Jesus Christ according to St. Mathew was animated by Fr. Clement Mascarenhas, Fr. Lawrence Cutinha and Br. Vijith Mathias.


History of Palm Sunday

The celebration of Palm Sunday originated in the Jerusalem Church, around the late fourth century. The early Palm Sunday ceremony consisted of prayers, hymns, and sermons recited by the clergy while the people walked to various holy sites throughout the city. At the final site, the place where Christ ascended into heaven, the clergy would read from the gospels concerning the entry of Jesus into Jerusalem. In the early evening they would return to the city reciting: "Blessed is He that comes in the name of the Lord." The children would carry palm and olive branches as the people returned through the city back to the church, where they would hold evening services.


By the fifth century, the Palm Sunday celebration had spread as far as Constantinople. Changes made in the sixth and seventh centuries resulted in two new Palm Sunday traditions - the ritual blessing of the palms, and a morning procession instead of an evening one. Adopted by the Western Church in the eighth century, the celebration received the name "Dominica in Palmis," or "Palm Sunday".



Palm Sunday in Modern Times

Today, Palm Sunday traditions are much the same as they have been since the tenth century. The ceremony begins with the blessing of the palms. The procession follows, then Mass is celebrated, wherein the Passion and the Benediction are sung. Afterwards, many people take the palms home and place them in houses, barns, and fields.


In some countries, palms are placed on the graves of the departed. In colder northern climates, where palm trees are not found, branches of yew, willow, and sallow trees are used. The palms blessed in the ceremony are burned at the end of the day. The ashes are then preserved for next year’s Ash Wednesday celebration.


In the simplest of terms, Palm Sunday is an occasion for reflecting on the final week of Jesus’ life. It is a time for Christians to prepare their hearts for the agony of His Passion and the joy of His Resurrection.


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