Palm Sunday

"Behold, our King marcheth before us, Who will fight for us. Let us follow Him manfully; let no one fear terrors; let us go forward together. Jesus will be with us." -Imitation.

The last Sunday in Lent is called Palm Sunday, from the ceremony of blessing palm branches and distributing them to the faithful. In Catholic countries they are carried in the hands during the procession. We hold them in our hands during the reading of the Passion at Mass, and then take them home, as the Church invokes a blessing on those places to which they are taken. The whole ceremony is intended to commemorate the triumphal entry of Jesus Christ into Jerusalem, six days before His death. The Gospel narrative is as follows:

"And when they drew nigh to Jerusalem and were come to Bethphage, unto mount Olivet, then Jesus sent two disciples, Saying to them: Go ye into the village that is over against you: and immediately you shall find an ass tied and a colt with her. Loose them and bring them to me. And if any man shall say anything to you, say ye that the Lord hath need of them. And forthwith he will let them go. Now all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying: Tell ye the daughter of Sion: Behold thy king cometh to thee, meek and sitting upon an ass and a colt, the foal of her that is used to the yoke. And the disciples going, did as Jesus commanded them. And they brought the ass and the colt and laid their garments upon them and made him sit thereon. And a very great multitude spread their garments in the way: and others cut boughs from the trees and strewed them in the way. And the multitudes that went before and that followed cried, saying: Hosanna to the son of David: Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord: Hosanna in the highest." (Matt. 21:1-9).

Our Lord intended to show by His triumphal entry how by His death He would triumph over the devil, the world, and the flesh, and open Heaven to us. He made use of an ass to show how much He condemned human greatness, and to fulfil an eminent prophecy which had ages before pointed out the Messias by such an approach to Jerusalem (Zach. 9:9).

The learned, powerful, and rich did not join in the acclamations, thereby showing the danger of learning, power, and wealth, unless accompanied by humility, obedience, and detachment of heart.

The good dispositions of the crowd did not last long, for ere a week had passed the Hosannas were changed into "Crucify Him! Away with Him !" This shows us that we are not to depend on worldly applause, nor upon devotion, which comes only in fits and starts, but that we are constantly to implore God's strengthening grace, lest we desert Him in the time of danger.

Let us invite our dear Lord to reign over our hearts, and to keep our unruly passions under control.

Hosanna to the Son of David! Bring To Him Who cometh in God's name, our Xing, Glory and peace! Loud, loud hosannas sing!

Example -- Godfrey de Bouillon

Godfrey de Bouillon, whose name is one of the glories of Belgium, was in his youth trained in Christian piety by his mother Ida, and in the use of arms by his father, who was a renowned warrior. When he had reached the years of manhood he possessed all the qualities of a great Prince and a Christian hero. Hence he was chosen to take command of the First Crusade, numbering about six hundred thousand men. Overcoming all difficulties and dangers, he succeeded in driving the infidels from the Holy Places, and soon entered Jerusalem at the head of his victorious army. Arrangements being made to proclaim him King of Jerusalem, and to crown him with a costly diadem of gold, he refused it, saying, "God forbid that I should wear a crown of gold where the King of Kings wore a crown of thorns."

Taken from Catholic Life (pages 37-39), available from The Neumann Press.