‘Meditate on Jesus’ ultimate sacrifice’
Catholics all over the world today mark the start of the Holy Week with the blessing of palm leaves.
Palm or Passion Sunday commemorates Jesus’ triumphant entry to Jerusalem, where people laid down their cloaks and small tree branches in front of him, chanting,
“Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord.”
Palm Sunday ushers in the Holy Week, considered the most solemn and holy period in the church’s liturgical calendar, when Christians relive the suffering, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ over 2,000 years ago.
In his message, Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma urged the faithful to meditate on Jesus’ ultimate sacrifice as an expression of His great love for mankind.
“The Church has been reminding our people that the Holy Week is not a time for vacation. I asked everyone to reflect upon the sacred mysteries of our faith, centered on God’s love,” he said.
Palma encouraged the faithful to attend the different activities at churches during the week and to go to confession.
The prelate will lead the Palm Sunday Mass at 8 a.m. at the Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral.
All Masses will be preceded with the blessing of the palms.
The palms blessed today will be burned into ashes to be used in next year’s Ash Wednesday.
In the afternoon of Maundy Thursday, the priest reenacts the washing of the feet of the apostles as Jesus’ symbol of humble service and love for each other.
Palma will lead the Mass of the Lord’s last supper at the Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral.
The Blessed Sacrament will also 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 at the Metropolitan Cathedral from noon until 3 p.m.
It will be followed by the celebration of the Lord’s passion and the veneration of the Holy Cross.
On Black Saturday, the Church will celebrate the Easter Vigil also known as the “mother of all vigils.”
Among the highlights will be the renewal of the baptismal promises as the faithful hold candles and make a vow “to reject Satan and his empty promises and to follow the Lord’s will.”
Church 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.
Palma will celebrate the Easter Sunday Mass at the cathedral at 5 a.m.
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