Hosanna To King of Kings! Catholic Faithful Observe ‘PALM SUNDAY’ in ‘Rome of the East’

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Hosanna to the King of Kings! Catholic Faithful Observe ‘PALM SUNDAY’ (2 April) a Week before ‘EASTER SUNDAY’ (9 April 2023) In ‘Rome Of The East’ aka Kodiyal/Mangaluru

Mangaluru: The season of Lent has always called for introspection and a deeper reflection on one’s faith. However, during the pandemic time, it has been marked with greater empathy for those suffering and affected by the Coronavirus. Cutting across denominational divides, all churches in the city had somberly observed PALM SUNDAY, following all the Covid-19 guidelines ordered by the government and district administration. Quite a few Catholic faithful remained home and watched the Palm Sunday ceremony on TV or online, but for people who attend church regularly, there was nothing like the real thing — whether it’s the quiet happiness of Palm Sunday, the solemnity of Good Friday, or all-out rejoicing on Easter Sunday.

But this year, as the restrictions on the Pandemic have been eased and no Covid-19 cases have been found, for Catholics, it is still a season of hope that has brought people closer, and the faithful did attend Palm Sunday in large numbers in various Churches in the City, on Sunday morning, 2 April 2023. At Milagres Church, Hampankatta, Mangaluru the blessing of the Palms was done by Church parish priest Rev Fr Bonaventure Nazareth, along with another church clergy., and a short procession was also held. Devotees with palm leaves in their hands walked into the Church singing hymns and reciting prayers to commemorate Christ’s passion and death. After the procession, the solemn Mass was celebrated in remembrance of the passion of Christ, by the clergy.

Palm Sunday was celebrated in two parts. In the first part of the service, the faithful remembered the entrance of Jesus into Jerusalem, acclaimed by all the people, by taking part in the procession. During the second part of the service in the church, the people read and reflect on the passion and death of Jesus. The mass was celebrated by Fr Bonaventure Nazareth joined by another clergy, and it was celebrated with traditional fervour and enthusiasm, and the choir rendered melodious hymns, which were soothing.

Holy Week began today, 2 April 2023 with Palm Sunday, and next Sunday is EASTER (9 April). Palm Sunday is a Christian moveable feast that falls on the Sunday before Easter. The feast commemorates Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem, an event mentioned in each of the four canonical Gospels. Palm Sunday marks the first day of Holy Week, the last week of the Christian solemn season of Lent that precedes the arrival of Eastertide. Palm Sunday is celebrated by the blessing and distribution of palm branches (or the branches of other native trees, like in Mangaluru, tender coconut leaves are used), representing the palm branches which the crowd scattered in front of Christ as he rode into Jerusalem. The difficulty of procuring palms in unfavourable climates has led to their substitution with branches of native trees, like Coconut trees.

Christians take these palms, which are often blessed by clergy, to their homes where they hang them alongside Christian art (especially crosses and crucifixes) or keep them in their Bibles or devotionals. In the period preceding the next year’s Lent, known as Shrovetide, churches often place a basket in their narthex to collect these palms, which are then ritually burned on Shrove Tuesday to make the ashes to be used on the following day, Ash Wednesday, which is the first day of Lent. According to the Gospels, Jesus Christ rode on a donkey into Jerusalem, and the celebrating people there laid down their cloaks and small branches of trees in front of him, singing part of Psalm 118: 25–26 – Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord. We bless you from the house of the Lord.

Palm Sunday marks the start of Holy Week. It reminds Christians of the journey Jesus made into Jerusalem, on a donkey, to celebrate the Jewish festival of Passover (Pesach). Jesus chose a donkey to show that he had come in peace. Many people welcomed Jesus by shouting, waving palm branches and throwing branches down in the path of the donkey. They hoped that Jesus was the Saviour who the Bible had promised. Palm Sunday is both a happy and sad day. Christians are happy because they are singing praises to Jesus but also sad because they know Jesus died less than a week after he arrived in Jerusalem.

I end this column with a devotional hymn ‘The Old Rugged Cross’ which was beautifully and rhythmically sung by the Milagres Church Choir-

On a hill far away stood an old rugged cross,
The emblem of suffering and shame,
And I love that old cross where the Dearest and Best
For a world of lost sinners was slain.
So I’ll cherish the old rugged cross,
Till my trophies at last I lay down;
I will cling to the old rugged cross,
And exchange it someday for a crown.

Oh, that old rugged cross, so despised by the world,
Has a wondrous attraction for me;
For the dear Lamb of God left His glory above,
To bear it to dark Calvary.

In the old rugged cross, stained with blood so divine,
A wondrous beauty I see;
For ’twas on that old cross, Jesus suffered and died,
To pardon and sanctify me.

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