Holy Week Begins with the Blessing of Palms

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Cardinal Donald Wuerl, apostolic administrator for the Archdiocese of Washington marked the beginning of Holy Week today by blessing palms and celebrating Mass at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle in Washington. Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion, marks the beginning of the prayerful and solemn week for Christians around the world as they commemorate Jesus’ triumphant entrance into Jerusalem before his death (Good Friday) and resurrection (Easter Sunday).

Cardinal Wuerl began his homily by saying that as Holy Week begins with the Palm Sunday liturgy, the faithful remember and experience what happened in the life of Jesus hundreds of years ago. “How is it that you and I today, twenty centuries later, can experience the redemption that Jesus won for us?,” the cardinal asked. Through the power of the sacraments, especially the Eucharist, we participate in Jesus’ life and his redemption, he said.

“In the Eucharist, that is at the heart of our commemoration during Holy Week, the saving death and Resurrection of Jesus – the Paschal Mystery – is not just reenacted, it is made present,” the cardinal said. Through Holy Week, the cardinal said, the faithful are refocused on Christ and the journey of faith through hearing and participating in the events of our salvation, by “reaffirming our faith in Jesus and what he accomplished for us.”

By placing the blessed palm branches in our homes, we are reminded of the drama of Jesus’ Passion, of our own sinful human condition, and of the gift of mercy and forgiveness, the cardinal said as he concluded his homily. “The palms at this Mass,” the cardinal said, “are a visible sign of Jesus’ love and mercy, and may it be for us a reminder that love and mercy touches us, changes us, sanctifies us, every time we approach the mystery of the altar.”

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