Palma urges faithful to bring gospel of love on Holy Week
In the face of poverty and nonstop killings, bring the gospel of love to the peripheries.
This is the message of Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma as Catholics all over the world mark the start of Holy Week today, the liturgical year’s most somber period of prayer, penitence and reflection on the ultimate sacrifice of Jesus Christ.
Catholics will bring palm fronds to be blessed in churches today, also called as Palm or Passion Sunday, which commemorates Jesus’ triumphant entry in Jerusalem to fulfill his destiny.
Activities this week relive the suffering, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ over 2,000 years ago.
“Reflecting on the passion of our Lord finds us face to face with our own sufferings and those of our less fortunate brothers and sisters. We see abject poverty. We see families living at the sidewalks. We see the degeneration of moral values and ascendancy and the loss of respect for the sacred,” Palma said.
“We cannot escape likewise from the sad reality on the death and killings in the campaign against prohibited drugs. This seems to be fast becoming as the new normal today,” he added.
The 67-year-old prelate appealed to the people to find their way back to God and do things that lead to genuine conversion and transformation of society.
“We bring the gospel of love to the peripheries. Our corporal and spiritual works of mercy are the liberating pastoral initiatives that restore the life and dignity of every person created in the image and likeness of God,” he said.
At dawn today, Palma will lead a Mass to culminate the 31st Local World Youth Day, an annual gathering of young people in the archdiocese, at the University of San Jose-Recoletos campus in Barangay Basak, Cebu City.
The archbishop will also celebrate the Palm Sunday Mass at the Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral at 8 a.m.
Before every Mass in all Catholic churches today, priests will bless palms brought by the faithful.
Palm Sunday commemorates Jesus’ triumphant entry to Jerusalem where, according to the sacred scriptures, people laid down their cloaks and small tree branches in front of Jesus, chanting, “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord.”
The palms will later be burned and its ashes used in next year’s Ash Wednesday.
Today, St. Matthew’s lengthy version of the passion and death of Jesus will be read in all Masses.
Since Palm Sunday is also Alay Kapwa Sunday in the Philippines, second collections in all Masses today will go to the Catholic Church’s programs for
the poor and the less fortunate members of society — a charitable endeavor spearheaded by the Caritas whose international organization is now headed by Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle.
Holy Week caps the 40-day season of Lent leading to a joyful celebration on Easter Sunday.
Palma on Tuesday encouraged the people to spend the week in prayer and reflection, and to participate in church activities instead of a vacation.
“In this sacred week, let us ponder upon the passion and death of our Lord and everything He has done out of His love for us,” he said.
On Maundy Thursday, Palma will lead the Mass of the Lord’s last supper at 4 p.m. at the Cebu Cathedral.
During this day, priests reenact the washing of the feet of the apostles as Jesus’ symbol of humble service and love for each other, and celebrate the institution of priesthood and the Holy Eucharist.
“Maundy” Thursday comes from the Latin “mandatum,” which means “commandment.”
As recorded in John’s gospel, on his last night before his betrayal and arrest, Jesus washed the feet of his disciples and then gave them a new commandment to love one another as he had loved them.
To conclude the Maundy Thursday liturgy, The Blessed Sacrament will be transferred to an altar of repose, usually decorated with flowers.
By tradition, Catholics visit various churches to pray before these altars as part of the Visita Iglesia.
On Good Friday, priests and selected lay persons will give their meditations on the Seven Last Words of Jesus Christ or Siete Palabras from noon till 3 p.m. at the Metropolitan Cathedral.
The event will be aired live over GMA 7 and radio DYRF.
The Good Friday liturgy and veneration of the holy cross will be held in all churches at 3 p.m.
On the eve of Black Saturday, an Easter Vigil and Mass—the grandest liturgical celebration in the entire Church year—will be held in all churches.
Rituals include the blessing of water and fire to commemorate Christ’s passing from death to life. Adult baptism is also conducted in parishes for candidates who finished catechetical instructions in previous months.
At dawn of Easter Sunday, religious processions will reenact the meeting of the Virgin Mary and her son Jesus Christ in the “Sugat” which means “meeting” in Cebuano.
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