Saturday, April 04, 2009


Palm Sunday is upon us! It's the first day of Holy Week, and the countdown begins for Easter. I started this Lenten series off with a look at a certain sacramental we receive at the beginning of Lent - Ashes. Rounding out the season of Lent, on Palm Sunday we receive another sacramental - Palms. We remember, of course, Christ riding in on a donkey and the people placing palms before him, celebrating his triumphant entrance into Jerusalem. Palms are a symbol of victory and triumph.

The Catholic Encyclopedia says the following:

Palm branches have been used by all nations as an emblem of joy and victory over enemies; in Christianity as a sign of victory over the flesh and the world according to Psalm 92:13, "Justus ut palma florebit "; hence especially associated with the memory of the martyrs. The palms blessed on Palm Sunday were used in the procession of the day, then taken home by the faithful and used as a sacramental. They were preserved in prominent places in the house, in the barns, and in the fields, and thrown into the fire during storms. On the Lower Rhine the custom exists of decorating the grave with blessed palms. From the blessed palms the ashes are procured for Ash Wednesday.

It's a common custom for people to braid their palms or shape them into crosses, and then keep them in their homes through the year. (Being blessed, they shouldn't be just thrown in the trash.) These palms can help us recall Christ's victory year round.

The just shall flourish like the palm tree, shall grow like a cedar of Lebanon. (Ps 92:13)

On the next day, when the great crowd that had come to the feast heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, they took palm branches and went out to meet him, and cried out: "Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, (even) the king of Israel." (Jn 12:12-3)


Jessica said...

I love your blog! Excellent posts! I loved reading your posts about the different parts of mass and look forward to reading more in the coming days as I have time.(Do you mind if I put a link to your blog on my site?)

Stephanie said...

Thanks Jessica! I don't mind at all if you link here. :-)