Palm Sunday

Sunday 5 April 2009

Palm Sunday (Second Sunday of Passiontide)
1st Class, Red and Violet
No Gloria; Credo; Pref. of the Holy Cross
Procession & Mass; no Asperges*


Omnípotens sempitérne Deus, qui humáno géneri, ad imitándum humilitátis exémplum, Salvatórem nostrum carnem súmere, et crucem subíre fecísti : concéde propítius ; ut et patiéntiæ ipsíus habére documénta, et resurrectiónis consórtia mereámur. Per eúmdem Dóminum.

Let us pray.

Almighty and everlasting God, who, of thy tender love towards mankind, hast sent thy Son, our Saviour Jesus Christ, to take upon him our flesh, and to suffer death upon the Cross, that all mankind should follow the example of his great humility : mercifully grant that we may both follow the example of his patience, and also be made partakers of his resurrection. Through the same.


Extract from the General Decree restoring Holy Week:

'Let the faithful be invited to take part in the Procession of the Palms in greater numbers, thus rendering Christ the King public witness of their love and gratitude.'

The Second Sunday in Passiontide would be in any case a great and holy day as it commemorates the last triumph of Our Lord Jesus Christ on earth and opens Holy Week. On this day, the Church celebrates the triumphant entry of Our Lord into Jerusalem; when the multitude, going before and following after Him, cut off the branches from the trees and strewed them in His way, shouting: 'Hosanna (glory and praise) to the Son of David. Blessed is He that cometh in the Name of the Lord.' It is in commemoration of this triumph that palms are blessed and borne in solemn procession.

In fact, this Palm Sunday triumph of Our Lord only led to His death. But we know that this death was not a failure. It was through His Passion and Death that he conquered the world and entered into His Kingdom. 'I, if I be lifted up ... will draw all thing to myself' (John 12:32). So the Church asks the faithful to join in the triumphal Procession today as an act of homage and gratitude to Christ our King. This triumphal beginning to Holy Week is full of meaning. Although the purple Mass vestments and the Gospel of the Passion remind us that the Cross lies ahead, we already know that this is the means of victory. So the church asks us to begin Holy Week by joyfully and publicly acknowledging Christ the King.

The principal ceremonies of the day are the Blessing of the Palms, the Procession, and the Mass with the reading of the Passion. The Blessing of the Palms used to follow a ritual similar to that of the Mass, - having an Epistle, a Gospel, a Preface, and a Sanctus. The Epistle referred to the murmuring of the Israelites in the desert, and their sighing for the flesh-pots of Egypt. The Gospel was the same as now, describing the triumphant entry into Jerusalem. The prayers which followed the Sanctus, asked God to 'bless the branches of palm ... so that whoever receives them may find protection of soul and body ... that into whatever place they shall be brought, those there may obtain His blessing; that the devout faithful may understand the mystical meaning of the ceremony, that is, that the palms represent triumph over the prince of death ... and therefore the use of them declares both the greatness of the victory and the richness of God's mercy.'

Here we clearly have the remains of the early usage of having two Masses on this day: one for the Blessing of the Palms, the other after the Procession. The prayers of the Blessing, the Antiphons sung during the Procession, and the hymn Gloria laus, make this one of the most impressive ceremonies of the liturgical year.


* - for full rubrics refer to an Ordo
(image: Priests of the FSSP, Palm Sunday, Wombrecht)

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