Palm Sunday A: People love to take something home from Sundays; along with Ash Wednesday and the ashes, the free blessed palms are another enormous draw. The attraction here comes from the opening ritual of the palms and the accompanying procession into the church. It is a beginning of Mass that is unique and very attractive to people. The First Form called the Procession is obviously the preferred ritual, but will take much coordination with the musicians and servers and hospitality to carry it off. It is elaborate.

The rite opens with an introit antiphons and psalm before the priest says anything. It is our introductory invitation to Holy Week by crying out to Jesus, Messiah and Son of David. It is an act of worship. Then the priest invites the people into Holy Week, to follow Christ very solemnly. The main message here connect the Cross and Resurrection as the Pascal Mystery. the palms are then blessed.

The Gospel Matthew’s account of Jesus’ entry into Jerusale follows. The colt of a donkey has been the traditional animal on which the Davidic Kings entered the city for their coronation. The people would have known and gotten the message. I note that the ass was a mother, and this seems an interesting thing to note and wonder what this symbol means. The cries of the people indicate their initial belief in Jesus as the son of David and a prophet; they are soon to learn he is also high priest.

Finally the priest announces the procession, moving to Psalm 24 followed by Psalm 47. A Hymn to Christ the King is also possible. When the procession reaches the entrance to the church, the cantor should be there for rite of entrance, versicle and response. Even the opening of the Mass is unusual, as the priest venerated the altar, incenses and begins with the Collect.

This whole ritual is to be both festive and at the same time an awareness of the coming Pascal Mystery coming soon.

Alan Hartway

Theological Studies at Catholic Theological Union, Chicago IL; Master of Fine Arts, Poetics, at Naropa University, Boulder CO 1996; Master of Arts, Greek Classics, University of Colorado, Boulder CO 2012; Taught at Naropa University from 1999 through 2015; Chair of Interdisciplinary Studies from 2007-2015; Member of the Missionaries of the Precious Blood, Kansas City Province since 1974; Pastor at Guardian Angel Catholic Church, Mead, CO, ministry from 2007-2020 Currently Retired

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