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Sunday, April 5, 2009

HOLY WEEK: Passion Sunday (Palm Sunday)

Today, Sunday 5th April 2009, is Passion Sunday (also known as Palm Sunday) which is the beginning of the Holy Week in the Catholic Calendar. On this day the Church celebrates Christ’s entrance into Jerusalem to accomplish his paschal mystery. 

To commemorate this celebration, the congregation assembles in some suitable place distinct from the church to which the procession will move. The faithful carry palm branches, and sing a song while they proceed to the church in procession led by the mass celebrant.

Very early this morning, my family and I went to Stella Maris Church, Tg. Aru to make sure that we could get our favourite Sunday pew. While we were seated waiting for the commencement of the church service at 7.30am, a power failure struck at 7.10am. I thought the mass would be celebrated without electricity, thus disabling the PA System as well as the power point used to project the hymns onto the screen at four different locations.

Ever since the power point visual aid was installed by Rev. Fr. Fundes last year, I noticed that the participation of the congregation to sing the hymns along  with the church choir, has undoubtedly improved by leaps and bounds. It has has also helped the congregation immensely in following closely the order of the mass.

As there was no electricity this morning before the commencement of the mass, the congregation scurried to take the limited copies of hymn books after the church commentator had made his announcement using his battery powered PA System.  The congregation was relieved when the electricity power was eventually restored immediately after the celebrant had finished reading the opening prayer.

The procession, the first form of the mass during Palm Sunday, started from the courtyard in front of the  Stella Maris Parish Hall where the celebrant (Rev. Fr. Fundes Motiung) greeted the faithful and explained to them about “the five weeks of Lent that we have been preparing, by works of charity and self-sacrifice, for the celebration of our Lord’s paschal mystery.”

The celebrant, after he finished reading the Gospel according to Mark 11:1-10, then proceeded to bless the palms held high by the faithful. The faithful then went back to the church in procession led by the celebrant.

The procession is in allusion to Jesus’ triumphal entry to Jerusalem:

When they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks over it, he sat on it. Many people spread their cloaks on the road, while others spread branches they had cut in the fields. Those who went ahead and those who followed shouted,


"Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!"

"Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David!"

"Hosanna in the highest!" (Mark 11: 7-10)

During the Liturgy of the Word, the Gospel reading is taken from Passion of  our Lord Jesus Christ according to Mark 14:1-72 and Mark 15:1-47 that were recited by three different people depicting the characters of the people in the Bible, and Rev. Fr. Fundes himself took the character of Jesus. 

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