9 things you need to know about Palm (Passion) Sunday

by jimmyakin

in Bible, Bible History, Liturgical Year

Why is Jesus' entry into Jerusalem so important? What is going on here?

Palm Sunday–or is it Passion Sunday?–marks the beginning of Holy Week.

This day commemorates not one but two very significant events in the life of Christ.

Here are 9 things you need to know.


1. What is this day called?

The day is called both “Palm Sunday” and “Passion Sunday.”

The first name comes from the fact that it commemorates Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem, when the crowd had palm branches (John 12:13).

The second name comes from the fact that the narrative of the Passion is read on this Sunday (it otherwise wouldn’t be read on a Sunday, since the next Sunday is about the Resurrection).

According to the main document on the celebration of the feasts connected with Easter, Paschales Solemnitatis:

Holy Week begins on “Passion (or Palm) Sunday” which joins the foretelling of Christ’s regal triumph and the proclamation of the passion. The connection between both aspects of the Paschal Mystery should be shown and explained in the celebration and catechesis of this day.

2. One of the notable features of this day is a procession before Mass. What do we do this?

According to Paschales Solemnitatis:

The commemoration of the entrance of the Lord into Jerusalem has, according to ancient custom, been celebrated with a solemn procession, in which the faithful in song and gesture imitate the Hebrew children who went to meet the Lord singing “Hosanna.”

The procession may take place only once, before the Mass which has the largest attendance, even if this should be in the evening either of Saturday or Sunday. The congregation should assemble in a secondary church or chapel or in some other suitable place distinct from the church to which the procession will move. . . .

The palms or branches are blessed so that they can be carried in the procession. The palms should be taken home where they will serve as a reminder of the victory of Christ be given which they celebrated in the procession.

3. Are we only supposed to use palms? What if you don’t have palms where you live?


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{ 1 comment }

CarolynLalli March 24, 2013 at 8:25 am

Jimmy, I’m hoping you can answer a question that has plagued me for decades:  “Why is the Passion read on Palm Sunday in the Latin Church?”  I am a Roman Catholic practicing my faith in a Maronite Catholic Church.  In the East, today is referred to as “Hosanna Sunday”.  In our church, children come today dressed in their Easter finery and carrying tall candles, beautifully decorated with flowers and ribbons, symbols of the season.  Once the palms and olive branches have been blessed, the priest leads the children in a procession, 3 times around the church.  It is a day of joy and happiness, punctuated by family a get together afterwards. Tomorrow we begin Passion Week and on Friday, we will hear all 4 Gospel accounts of the Passion.  
I have posed the above question to several RC and Maronite priests.  None were able to provide an explanation.  Perhaps you may know or can direct me elsewhere.
Blessings to you and your family on this beautiful day when our Lord rode triumphantly into Jerusalem.

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