mirrorheadlineOn Easter Sunday Matt Drudge was carrying the following headline:

POPE: Defeat ISIS with ‘weapons of love’ . . .

The link was to this story by the UK’s Mirror, which itself carried the headline:

Pope Francis says defeat Islamic State ‘with weapons of love’ during Easter message

The headline is utterly false—as well as an example of incompetent journalism.

The headline makes it look like the pope was advocating some kind of nonviolent approach to ISIS, and that’s simply not what he was doing.

Here are the facts . . .

 

1) What message was the story referring to?

Although the story did not say so, it was the pope’s Easter Urbi et Orbi message.

Every Christmas and Easter, pope release an Urbi et Orbi (Latin, “to the city and the world”) message. It addresses concerns in the city of Rome and the world at large.

The official English translation of this message is not yet out, but the Italian original is here.

And here’s a Google Translate version.

UPDATE: Here’s a translation provided by Edward Pentin.

 

2) Did the pope say anything about Iraq?

Yes. He mentioned it twice, first saying that he hoped the “message of life” would “promote a fruitful exchange between peoples and cultures in other areas of the Mediterranean basin and the Middle East, particularly in Iraq, Yemen and Libya.”

Then he expressed closeness to the victims of terrorism “in different parts of the world, as has happened in recent attacks in Belgium, Turkey, Nigeria, Chad, Cameroon, Ivory Coast and Iraq.”

 

3) But he didn’t mention the Islamic State?

Nope. Not once.

 

4) Does he say anyone should defeat anybody with “weapons of love”?

Nope. Not once.

 

4) Does he mention “weapons of love”?

Yes. He says that “With the weapons of love, God has defeated selfishness and death.”

 

5) Are you quoting from Google Translate for that?

Nope. I’m quoting from the Mirror article itself.

 

6) Wait. You mean the Mirror article itself quotes the pope saying God (not humans) has (not should) defeated evil and selfishness (not the Islamic State) and in the past (not the future)? That’s completely different than what its headline says!

That’s right.

 

7) Who writes newspaper headlines?

They can be suggested by the authors of the pieces, but ultimate control of them is in the hands of editors—who frequently write them.

 

8) Who wrote and edited this piece?

The piece was written by John Shammas, whose Twitter profile describes him as “Half Irish, Half Iraqi.”

I have not yet been able to establish who edited the piece or whether the author or editor wrote the headline.

 

9) Can we let the author off on the grounds that the editor may have written the headline?

Unfortunately, no. The first paragraph of the article reads:

Pope Francis has urged the world in his Easter message to use the “weapons of love” to combat the evil of “blind and brutal violence” following the tragic attacks in Brussels.

That is not what the pope said. The only time he referred to anyone using “weapons of love” was when he applied this metaphor to God’s action in the past.

 

10) Regardless of how the blame should be apportioned between the reporter and the editor, can this be chalked up to anything less than journalistic incompetence?

No. Both the article and the headline lead the reader to think that the pope said something which he did not say.

They both take a phrase that the pope used to describe God’s past action and made it appear that the pope applied it to man’s future actions.

That’s at least incompetence.

It may even be worse than incompetence. It may be malfeasance.

 

Looking for Something Good to Read?

May I suggest my commentary on the Gospel of Mark?

It goes through the whole text and provides fascinating information that you may have never heard before.

It also comes with a verse-by-verse study guide with questions that you or your study group can use.

And it comes with a lectionary-based study guide, so you can read along with Mark in the liturgy and ponder its meaning before or after Mass.

Right now, this commentary is available exclusively on Verbum Catholic software.

Verbum is an incredibly powerful study tool that I use every day, and I heartily recommend it to others.

I can also save you 10% when you get the commentary or one of the bundles of Verbum software. Just use the code JIMMY1 at checkout.

CLICK HERE TO GET JIMMY AKIN’S STUDIES ON MARK.

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Easter is the most important day of the Christian calendar, even more important than Christmas. Here are 9 things you need to know.

The great day is finally here: Easter, the most important day of the Christian calendar. More important even than Christmas.

What happened on this day?

Was Jesus’ resurrection a real, historical event?

How does the Church celebrate this day?

Is Easter a pagan holiday?

Here are 8 things you need to know.

 

1. What happened on Easter?

Among other things:

  • The women went to the tomb to anoint Jesus’ body.
  • They saw angels, who told them he wasn’t there.
  • They went to tell the apostles, who initially didn’t believe them.
  • Peter and the beloved disciple rushed to see the tomb and found it empty.
  • Mary Magdalen, in particular, had an encounter with the risen Christ.
  • So did the disciples on the road to Emmaus.
  • So did Peter.
  • So did all the apostles except Thomas (who would have one later).
  • Jesus had risen from the dead!

To read about the events in the New Testament, you can use these links:

 

2. Was Jesus’ Resurrection a real, historical event or something else?

The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains:

 639 The mystery of Christ’s resurrection is a real event, with manifestations that were historically verified, as the New Testament bears witness.

In about A.D. 56 St. Paul could already write to the Corinthians:

“I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures, and that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the Twelve. . .”

The Apostle speaks here of the living tradition of the Resurrection which he had learned after his conversion at the gates of Damascus.

 

3. What is the significance of the empty tomb?

The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains:

 640 . . . The first element we encounter in the framework of the Easter events is the empty tomb. In itself it is not a direct proof of Resurrection; the absence of Christ’s body from the tomb could be explained otherwise.

Nonetheless the empty tomb was still an essential sign for all. Its discovery by the disciples was the first step toward recognizing the very fact of the Resurrection.

This was the case, first with the holy women, and then with Peter.  The disciple “whom Jesus loved” affirmed that when he entered the empty tomb and discovered “the linen cloths lying there”, “he saw and believed”.

This suggests that he realized from the empty tomb’s condition that the absence of Jesus’ body could not have been of human doing and that Jesus had not simply returned to earthly life as had been the case with Lazarus.

 

4. What significance to the post-Resurrection appearances of Christ have?

The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains:

641 Mary Magdalene and the holy women who came to finish anointing the body of Jesus, which had been buried in haste because the Sabbath began on the evening of Good Friday, were the first to encounter the Risen One.

Thus the women were the first messengers of Christ’s Resurrection for the apostles themselves. . . .

642 Everything that happened during those Paschal days involves each of the apostles – and Peter in particular – in the building of the new era begun on Easter morning.

As witnesses of the Risen One, they remain the foundation stones of his Church. the faith of the first community of believers is based on the witness of concrete men known to the Christians and for the most part still living among them.

Peter and the Twelve are the primary “witnesses to his Resurrection”, but they are not the only ones – Paul speaks clearly of more than five hundred persons to whom Jesus appeared on a single occasion and also of James and of all the apostles.

643 Given all these testimonies, Christ’s Resurrection cannot be interpreted as something outside the physical order, and it is impossible not to acknowledge it as an historical fact.

 

5. What significance does Christ’s Resurrection have for us?

The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains:

651 “If Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain.”

The Resurrection above all constitutes the confirmation of all Christ’s works and teachings.

All truths, even those most inaccessible to human reason, find their justification if Christ by his Resurrection has given the definitive proof of his divine authority, which he had promised.

 658 Christ, “the first-born from the dead” ( Col 1:18), is the principle of our own resurrection, even now by the justification of our souls (cf Rom 6:4), and one day by the new life he will impart to our bodies (cf Rom 8:11).

 

6. How do we commemorate this day?

The big celebration of Easter was on the evening of Holy Saturday. It was the Easter Vigil Mass. Consequently, Easter Sunday celebrations–at least as far as the Church is concerned (as opposed to all the egg hunts and baby ducks and marshmallow peeps)–is more restrained.

According to the main document governing the celebrations connected with Easter, Paschalis Solemnitatis:

97. Mass is to be celebrated on Easter Day with great solemnity.

It is appropriate that the penitential rite on this day take the form of a sprinkling with water blessed at the Vigil, during which the antiphon Vidi aquam, or some other song of baptismal character should be sung.

The fonts at the entrance to the church should also be filled with the same water.

 

7. What is the role of the “Paschal [i.e., Easter] candle”?

Paschales Solemnitatis explains:

99. The paschal candle has its proper place either by the ambo or by the altar and should be lit at least in all the more solemn liturgical celebrations of the season until Pentecost Sunday, whether at Mass, or at Morning and Evening Prayer.

After the Easter season the candle should be kept with honor in the baptistry, so that in the celebration of Baptism the candles of the baptized may be lit from them.

In the celebration of funerals, the paschal candle should be placed near the coffin to indicate that the death of a Christian is his own passover.

The paschal candle should not otherwise be lit nor placed in the sanctuary outside the Easter season.

 

8. Is Easter a pagan holiday?

Absolutely not!

Here’s a video I did on precisely that subject:

 

Looking for Something Good to Read?

May I suggest my commentary on the Gospel of Mark?

It goes through the whole text and provides fascinating information that you may have never heard before.

It also comes with a verse-by-verse study guide with questions that you or your study group can use.

And it comes with a lectionary-based study guide, so you can read along with Mark in the liturgy and ponder its meaning before or after Mass.

Right now, this commentary is available exclusively on Verbum Catholic software.

Verbum is an incredibly powerful study tool that I use every day, and I heartily recommend it to others.

I can also save you 10% when you get the commentary or one of the bundles of Verbum software. Just use the code JIMMY1 at checkout.

CLICK HERE TO GET JIMMY AKIN’S STUDIES ON MARK.

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On Holy Saturday the earth waits in stillness for the Resurrection of the Lord. Here are 9 things you need to know about it. On Holy Saturday the earth waits in stillness for the Resurrection of the Lord. Here are 9 things you need to know about it.

Everytime we say the creed, we note that Jesus “descended into hell.”

Holy Saturday is the day that commemorates this event.

What happened on this day, and how do we celebrate it?

Here are 12 things you need to know.

 

1. What happened on the first Holy Saturday?

Here on earth, Jesus’ disciples mourned his death and, since it was a sabbath day, they rested.

Luke notes that the women returned home “and prepared spices and ointments. On the sabbath they rested according to the commandment” (Luke 23:56).

At the tomb, the guards that had been stationed there kept watch over the place to make sure that the disciples did not steal Jesus’ body.

Meanwhile . . .

 

2. What happened to Jesus while he was dead?

According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

633 Scripture calls the abode of the dead, to which the dead Christ went down, “hell” – Sheol in Hebrew or Hades in Greek – because those who are there are deprived of the vision of God.

Such is the case for all the dead, whether evil or righteous, while they await the Redeemer: which does not mean that their lot is identical, as Jesus shows through the parable of the poor man Lazarus who was received into “Abraham’s bosom”:

“It is precisely these holy souls, who awaited their Saviour in Abraham’s bosom, whom Christ the Lord delivered when he descended into hell.”

Jesus did not descend into hell to deliver the damned, nor to destroy the hell of damnation, but to free the just who had gone before him.

634 “The gospel was preached even to the dead.” The descent into hell brings the Gospel message of salvation to complete fulfillment.

This is the last phase of Jesus’ messianic mission, a phase which is condensed in time but vast in its real significance: the spread of Christ’s redemptive work to all men of all times and all places, for all who are saved have been made sharers in the redemption.

 

3. How do we commemorate this day?

According to the main document governing the celebrations connected with Easter, Paschales Solemnitatis:

73. On Holy Saturday the Church is, as it were, at the Lord’s tomb, meditating on his passion and death, and on his descent into hell, and awaiting his resurrection with prayer and fasting.

It is highly recommended that on this day the Office of Readings and Morning Prayer be celebrated with the participation of the people (cf. n. 40).

Where this cannot be done, there should be some celebration of the Word of God, or some act of devotion suited to the mystery celebrated this day.

74. The image of Christ crucified or lying in the tomb, or the descent into hell, which mystery Holy Saturday recalls, as also an image of the sorrowful Virgin Mary can be placed in the church for the veneration of the faithful.

Fasting is also encouraged, but not required, on this day.

 

4. Are the sacraments celebrated?

For the most part, no. Paschales Solemnitatis explains:

75. On this day the Church abstains strictly from the celebration of the sacrifice of the Mass.

Holy Communion may only be given in the form of Viaticum.

The celebration of marriages is forbidden, as also the celebration of other sacraments, except those of Penance and the Anointing of the Sick.

The prohibition on saying Mass applies to the part of the day before the Easter Vigil Mass (see below).

Baptism in danger of death is also permitted.

 

5. What is the Easter Vigil?

A vigil is the liturgical commemoration of a notable feast, held on the evening preceding the feast.

The term comes from the Latin word vigilia, which means “wakefulness,” and which came to be used when the faithful stayed awake to pray and do devotional exercises in anticipation of the feast.

Easter Vigil is the vigil held on the evening before Easter.

According to Paschales Solemnitatis:

80. From the very outset the Church has celebrated that annual Pasch, which is the solemnity of solemnities, above all by means of a night vigil.

For the resurrection of Christ is the foundation of our faith and hope, and through Baptism and Confirmation we are inserted into the Paschal Mystery of Christ, dying, buried, and raised with him, and with him we shall also reign.

The full meaning of Vigil is a waiting for the coming of the Lord.

 

6. When should Easter Vigil be celebrated?

Paschales Solemnitatis explains:

 78. “The entire celebration of the Easter Vigil takes place at night. It should not begin before nightfall; it should end before daybreak on Sunday.”

This rule is to be taken according to its strictest sense. Reprehensible are those abuses and practices which have crept into many places in violation of this ruling, whereby the Easter Vigil is celebrated at the time of day that it is customary to celebrate anticipated Sunday Masses.

Those reasons which have been advanced in some quarters for the anticipation of the Easter Vigil, such as lack of public order, are not put forward in connection with Christmas night, nor other gatherings of various kinds.

7. What happens at the Easter Vigil?

According to Paschales Solemnitatis:

81. The order for the Easter Vigil is arranged so that

  • after the service of light and the Easter Proclamation (which is the first part of the Vigil),
  • Holy Church meditates on the wonderful works which the Lord God wrought for his people from the earliest times (the second part or Liturgy of the Word),
  • to the moment when, together with those new members reborn in Baptism (third part),
  • she is called to the table prepared by the Lord for his Church—the commemoration of his death and resurrection—until he comes (fourth part).

 

8. What happens during the service of light?

According to Paschales Solemnitatis:

82. . . . In so far as possible, a suitable place should be prepared outside the church for the blessing of the new fire, whose flames should be such that they genuinely dispel the darkness and light up the night.

The paschal candle should be prepared, which for effective symbolism must be made of wax, never be artificial, be renewed each year, be only one in number, and be of sufficiently large size so that it may evoke the truth that Christ is the light of the world. It is blessed with the signs and words prescribed in the Missal or by the Conference of Bishops.

83. The procession, by which the people enter the church, should be led by the light of the paschal candle alone. Just as the children of Israel were guided at night by a pillar of fire, so similarly, Christians follow the risen Christ. There is no reason why to each response “Thanks be to God” there should not be added some acclamation in honor of Christ.

The light from the paschal candle should be gradually passed to the candles which it is fitting that all present should hold in their hands, the electric lighting being switched off.

 

9. What happens during the Easter Proclamation?

According to Paschales Solemnitatis:

 84. The deacon makes the Easter Proclamation which tells, by means of a great poetic text, the whole Easter mystery placed in the context of the economy of salvation.

In case of necessity, where there is no deacon, and the celebrating priest is unable to sing it, a cantor may do so.

The Bishops’ Conferences may adapt this proclamation by inserting into it acclamations from the people.

 

10. What happens during the Scripture readings?

According to Paschales Solemnitatis:

85. The readings from Sacred Scripture constitute the second part of the Vigil. They give an account of the outstanding deeds of the history of salvation, which the faithful are helped to meditate calmly upon by the singing of the responsorial psalm, by a silent pause and by the celebrant’s prayer.

The restored Order for the Vigil has seven readings from the Old Testament chosen from the Law and the Prophets, which are in use everywhere according to the most ancient tradition of East and West, and two readings from the New Testament, namely from the Apostle and from the Gospel.

Thus the Church, “beginning with Moses and all the Prophets” explains Christ’s Paschal Mystery.

Consequently wherever this is possible, all the readings should be read so that the character of the Easter Vigil, which demands that it be somewhat prolonged, be respected at all costs.

Where, however, pastoral conditions require that the number of readings be reduced, there should be at least three readings from the Old Testament, taken from the Law and the Prophets; the reading from Exodus chapter 14 with its canticle must never be omitted.

87. After the readings from the Old Testament, the hymn “Gloria in excelsis” is sung, the bells are rung in accordance with local custom, the collect is recited, and the celebration moves on to the readings from the New Testament. An exhortation from the Apostle on Baptism as an insertion into Christ’s Paschal Mystery is read.

Then all stand and the priest intones the “Alleluia” three times, each time raising the pitch. The people repeat it after him.

If it is necessary, the psalmist or cantor may sing the “Alleluia,” which the people then take up as an acclamation to be interspersed between the verses of Psalm 117, so often cited by the Apostles in their Easter preaching.

Finally, the resurrection of the Lord is proclaimed from the Gospel as the high point of the whole Liturgy of the Word.

After the Gospel a homily is to be given, no matter how brief.

 

11. What happens during the baptismal liturgy?

According to Paschales Solemnitatis:

88. The third part of the Vigil is the baptismal liturgy. Christ’s passover and ours is now celebrated.

This is given full expression in those churches which have a baptismal font, and more so when the Christian initiation of adults is held, or at least the Baptism of infants.

Even if there are no candidates for Baptism, the blessing of baptismal water should still take place in parish churches. If this blessing does not take place at the baptismal font, but in the sanctuary, baptismal water should be carried afterwards to the baptistry there to be kept throughout the whole of paschal time.

Where there are neither candidates for Baptism nor any need to bless the font, Baptism should be commemorated by the blessing of water destined for sprinkling upon the people.

89. Next follows the renewal of baptismal promises, introduced by some words on the part of the celebrating priest.

The faithful reply to the questions put to them, standing and holding lighted candles in their hands. They are then sprinkled with water: in this way the gestures and words remind them of the Baptism they have received.

The celebrating priest sprinkles the people by passing through the main part of the church while all sing the antiphon “Vidi aquam” or another suitable song of a baptismal character.

 

12. What happens during the Eucharistic liturgy?

According to Paschales Solemnitatis:

90. The celebration of the Eucharist forms the fourth part of the Vigil and marks its high point, for it is in the fullest sense the Easter Sacrament, that is to say, the commemoration of the Sacrifice of the Cross and the presence of the risen Christ, the completion of Christian initiation, and the foretaste of the eternal pasch.

92. It is fitting that in the Communion of the Easter Vigil full expression be given to the symbolism of the Eucharist, namely by consuming the Eucharist under the species of both bread and wine. The local Ordinaries will consider the appropriateness of such a concession and its ramifications.

 

Looking for Something Good to Read?

May I suggest my commentary on the Gospel of Mark?

It goes through the whole text and provides fascinating information that you may have never heard before.

It also comes with a verse-by-verse study guide with questions that you or your study group can use.

And it comes with a lectionary-based study guide, so you can read along with Mark in the liturgy and ponder its meaning before or after Mass.

Right now, this commentary is available exclusively on Verbum Catholic software.

Verbum is an incredibly powerful study tool that I use every day, and I heartily recommend it to others.

I can also save you 10% when you get the commentary or one of the bundles of Verbum software. Just use the code JIMMY1 at checkout.

CLICK HERE TO GET JIMMY AKIN’S STUDIES ON MARK.

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If Jesus died on the cross in A.D. 33 and made forgiveness possible, how does that apply to people who lived before or after this event? (Like us!)

Good Friday is the most somber day of the Christian year.

It is the day our Savior died for us.

It is the day we were redeemed from our sins by the voluntary death of God Himself at the hands of man.

Here are 9 things you need to know.

 

1. Why is this day called “Good Friday”

It’s not for the reason you might think.

Despite the fact that “good” is a common English word, tempting us to say the name is based on the fact that something very good (our redemption) happened on this day, that’s not where the name comes from.

Precisely where it does come from is disputed. The Catholic Encyclopedia explains:

The origin of the term Good is not clear. Some say it is from “God’s Friday” (Gottes Freitag); others maintain that it is from the German Gute Freitag, and not speciallyEnglish.

It is also argued that the name is based on a Medieval use of the word good where it meant “holy.” Thus “Good Friday” would have come from “Holy Friday,” the same way we have Holy Thursday and Holy Saturday.

 

2. What happened on the first Good Friday?

Quite a number of things. During the night, Jesus had been arrested and taken before the high priests Annas and Caiaphas. It was during this time that Peter denied him.

According to the gospels, Jesus:

  • Was taken before Pilate in the morning
  • Sent to Herod
  • Returned to Pilate
  • Was mocked and beaten
  • Saw Barabbas released in his stead
  • Was crowned with thorns
  • Was condemned to death
  • Carried the crushing burden of his cross
  • Told the weeping women what would happen in the future
  • Was crucified between two thieves
  • Forgave those who crucified him
  • Entrusted the Virgin Mary to the beloved disciple
  • Assured the good thief of his salvation
  • Said his famous seven last words
  • Cried out and died

In addition:

  • There was darkness over the land
  • There was an earthquake
  • The veil of the temple was torn in two
  • Many saints of the Old Testament period were raised
  • A soldier pierced Christ’s side and blood and water flowed out
  • Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus went to Pilate and asked for Jesus’ body
  • He was buried in Joseph’s own tomb
  • A guard was set over the tomb
  • All Jesus’ friends and family grieved at his death

If you’d like to read the gospel accounts themselves, you can use these links:

 

3. How do we celebrate Good Friday today?

According to the main document governing the celebrations connected with Easter, Paschales Solemnitatis:

58. On this day, when “Christ our passover was sacrificed,” the Church:

  • meditates on the passion of her Lord and Spouse,
  • adores the cross,
  • commemorates her origin from the side of Christ asleep on the cross,
  • and intercedes for the salvation of the whole world.

 

4. Are fast and abstinence required on Good Friday?

Yes. Paschales Solemnitatis notes:

60. Good Friday is a day of penance to be observed as of obligation in the whole Church, and indeed through abstinence and fasting.

For more information on the requirement of fast and abstinence, you should click here.

 

5. Are the sacraments celebrated on Good Friday?

For the most part, no. Good Friday is the only day of the year on which the celebration of Mass is forbidden.

Paschales Solemnitatis notes:

59. On this day, in accordance with ancient tradition, the Church does not celebrate the Eucharist.

Holy Communion is distributed to the faithful during the Celebration of the Lord’s Passion alone, though it may be brought at any time of the day to the sick who cannot take part in the celebration.

61. All celebration of the sacraments on this day is strictly prohibited, except for the sacraments of Penance and Anointing of the Sick.

Funerals are to be celebrated without singing, music, or the tolling of bells.

Baptism in danger of death is also permitted.

 

6. What liturgical celebrations occur on this day?

The principal one is known as the Celebration of the Lord’s Passion. It includes:

  • A liturgy of the word
  • The adoration of the cross
  • A Communion service using hosts already consecrated.

Paschales Solemnitatis notes:

63. The Celebration of the Lord’s Passion is to take place in the afternoon, at about three o’clock.

The time will be chosen which seems most appropriate for pastoral reasons in order to allow the people to assemble more easily, for example shortly after midday, or in the late evening, however not later than nine o’clock.

 

7. How is the cross venerated?

Paschales Solemnitatis notes:

68. For veneration of the cross, let a cross be used that is of appropriate size and beauty, and let one of the forms for this rite as found in the Roman Missal be followed.

The rite should be carried out with the splendor worthy of the mystery of our salvation: both the invitation pronounced at the unveiling of the cross, and the people’s response should be made in song, and a period of respectful silence is to be observed after each act of veneration—the celebrant standing and holding the raised cross.

69. The cross is to be presented to each of the faithful individually for their adoration since the personal adoration of the cross is a most important feature in this celebration; only when necessitated by the large numbers of faithful present should the rite of veneration be made simultaneously by all present.

Only one cross should be used for the veneration, as this contributes to the full symbolism of the rite.

During the veneration of the cross the antiphons, “Reproaches,” and hymns should be sung, so that the history of salvation be commemorated through song. Other appropriate songs may also be sung (cf. n. 42).

 

8. What happens after the Celebration of the Lord’s Passion?

Paschales Solemnitatis notes:

71. After the celebration, the altar is stripped; the cross remains however, with four candles.

An appropriate place (for example, the chapel of repose used for reservation of the Eucharist on Maundy Thursday) can be prepared within the church, and there the Lord’s cross is placed so that the faithful may venerate and kiss it, and spend some time in meditation.

 

9. Are other devotions appropriate to Good Friday?

Paschales Solemnitatis notes:

72. Devotions such as the “Way of the Cross,” processions of the passion, and commemorations of the sorrows of the Blessed Virgin Mary are not, for pastoral reasons, to be neglected.

The texts and songs used, however, should be adapted to the spirit of the Liturgy of this day.

Such devotions should be assigned to a time of day that makes it quite clear that the Liturgical celebration by its very nature far surpasses them in importance.

 

Looking for Something Good to Read?

May I suggest my commentary on the Gospel of Mark?

It goes through the whole text and provides fascinating information that you may have never heard before.

It also comes with a verse-by-verse study guide with questions that you or your study group can use.

And it comes with a lectionary-based study guide, so you can read along with Mark in the liturgy and ponder its meaning before or after Mass.

Right now, this commentary is available exclusively on Verbum Catholic software.

Verbum is an incredibly powerful study tool that I use every day, and I heartily recommend it to others.

I can also save you 10% when you get the commentary or one of the bundles of Verbum software. Just use the code JIMMY1 at checkout.

CLICK HERE TO GET JIMMY AKIN’S STUDIES ON MARK.

If you liked this post, you should join Jimmy's Secret Information Club to get more great info!


What is the Secret Information Club?I value your email privacy

Pope Francis waves to crowds as he arrives to his inauguration mass on 19 March 2013.

This version of The Weekly Francis covers material released in the last week from 7 December 2015 to 23 March 2016.

Angelus

Daily Homilies (fervorinos)

General Audiences

Homilies

Letters

Messages

Speeches

Papal Tweets

  • “… That families in need may receive the necessary support and that children may grow up in healthy and peaceful environments.” @Pontifex 12 March 2016
  • “Pray for me.” @Pontifex 13 March 2016
  • “The Sacrament of Reconciliation allows us to draw near to the Father with trust to have the certainty of his forgiveness.” @Pontifex 14 March 2016
  • “God is truly “rich in mercy” and extends it abundantly upon those who appeal to Him with a sincere heart.” @Pontifex 15 March 2016
  • “As we exit the confessional, we will feel his strength which gives new life and restores ardor to the faith. After confession we are reborn.” @Pontifex 16 March 2016
  • “No one can be excluded from the mercy of God. The Church is the house where everyone is welcomed and no one is rejected.” @Pontifex 17 March 2016
  • “The greater the sin, the greater the love that must be shown by the Church to those who repent.” @Pontifex 18 March 2016
  • “I am beginning a new journey, on Instagram, to walk with you along the path of mercy and the tenderness of God.” @Pontifex 19 March 2016
  • “Let us come to Him and let us not be afraid! Let us come to Him and say from the depths of our hearts: “Jesus, I trust in You!”” @Pontifex 20 March 2016
  • “Let us take our Christian calling seriously and commit to live as believers.” @Pontifex 21 March 2016
  • “I entrust to God’s mercy all those who lost their lives. #Brussels” @Pontifex 22 March 2016
  • “With how much love Jesus looks at us! With how much love He heals our sinful heart! Our sins never scare Him.” @Pontifex 23 March 2016

Papal Instagram

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holy thursdayEvery single Mass, we hear the words “on the night he was betrayed.”

That night was Holy Thursday, and it is one of the most important nights in all of history.

Here are 10 things you need to know.

 

1. What happened on the original Holy Thursday?

An amazing amount of stuff! This was one of the most pivotal days in the life of Jesus Christ.

Here are some of the things the gospels record for this day (including events that happened after midnight). Jesus:

  • Sent Peter and John to arrange for them to use the Upper Room to hold the Passover meal.
  • Washed the apostles’ feet.
  • Held the first Mass.
  • Instituted the priesthood.
  • Announced that Judas would betray him.
  • Gave the “new commandment” to love one another.
  • Indicated that Peter had a special pastoral role among the apostles.
  • Announced that Peter would deny him.
  • Prayed for the unity of his followers.
  • Held all the discourses recorded across five chapters of John (John 13-18).
  • Sang a hymn.
  • Went to the Mount of Olives.
  • Prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane.
  • Was betrayed by Judas.
  • Stopped the disciples from continuing a violent resistance.
  • Healed the ear of Malchus, the high priest’s servant, after Peter cut it off with a sword.
  • Was taken before the high priests Annas and Caiaphas.
  • Was denied by Peter.
  • Was taken to Pilate.

It was a momentous day!

If you’d like to read the gospel accounts themselves, you can use these links:

 

2. Why is Holy Thursday sometimes called “Maundy Thursday”?

The word “Maundy” is derived from the Latin word mandatum, or “mandate.”

This word is used in the Latin text for John 13:34:

“Mandatum novum do vobis ut diligatis invicem sicut dilexi vos.”

Or, in English:

“A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you.”

Holy Thursday is thus sometimes called Maundy Thursday because it was on this day that Christ gave us the new commandment–the new mandate–to love one another as he loves us.

 

3. What happens on this day liturgically?

Several things:

  • The bishop celebrates a “Chrism Mass” with his priests (usually).
  • The Mass of the Lord’s Supper is held in the evening.
  • At the Mass of the Lord’s Supper, the priest (often) performs the washing of feet.
  • The Tabernacle is empty and the Eucharist is put in a place of repose.
  • The altar is stripped.
  • The faithful are invited to spend time in Eucharistic adoration while the Sacrament is in repose.

 

4. What is the “Chrism Mass”?

According to the main document governing the celebrations connected with Easter, Paschales Solemnitatis:

35. The Chrism Mass which the bishop concelebrates with his presbyterium and at which the holy chrism is consecrated and the oils blessed, manifests the communion of the priests with their bishop in the same priesthood and ministry of Christ.

The priests who concelebrate with the bishop should come to this Mass from different parts of the diocese, thus showing in the consecration of the chrism to be his witnesses and cooperators, just as in their daily ministry they are his helpers and counselors.

The faithful are also to be encouraged to participate in this Mass, and to receive the sacrament of the Eucharist.

Traditionally the Chrism Mass is celebrated on the Thursday of Holy Week. If, however, it should prove to be difficult for the clergy and people to gather with the bishop, this rite can be transferred to another day, but one always close to Easter.

The chrism and the oil of catechumens is to be used in the celebration of the sacraments of initiation on Easter night.

5. Why is the Mass of the Lord’s Supper significant?

According to Paschales Solemnitatis:

45. Careful attention should be given to the mysteries which are commemorated in this Mass: the institution of the Eucharist, the institution of the priesthood, and Christ’s command of brotherly love; the homily should explain these points.

6. Is the Eucharist in the Tabernacle during this Mass?

No. According to Paschales Solemnitatis:

48. The Tabernacle should be completely empty before the celebration.

Hosts for the Communion of the faithful should be consecrated during that celebration.

A sufficient amount of bread should be consecrated to provide also for Communion on the following day.

7. What does the rite of foot washing signify, and is it to be done for men only?

According to Paschales Solemnitatis:

51. The washing of the feet of chosen men which, according to tradition, is performed on this day, represents the service and charity of Christ, who came “not to be served, but to serve. This tradition should be maintained, and its proper significance explained.

Although some have interpreted the rite as reflecting the institution of the institution of the priesthood or being unique to the apostles, this interpretation is not found in the Church’s official documents, such as Paschales Solemnitatis, which interpret it as a sign of service and charity.

The rite is optional. It does not have to be performed.

Although until 2016 the Church’s official texts used language that indicated only men (Latin, viri) could have their feet washed on Holy Thursday, the Holy See had permitted individual bishops to wash the feet of females and younger males (vir means “man,” not “male”) for some time.

Pope Francis himself had been doing so, and in 2016 he had the Congregation for Divine Worship revise the law to bring it into alignment with contemporary practice.

You can read the decree that did so here.

 

 

8. What happens at the end of the Mass of the Lord’s Supper?

According to Paschales Solemnitatis:

54. After the post-Communion prayer, the procession forms, with the crossbar at its head. The Blessed Sacrament, accompanied by lighted candles and incense, is carried through the church to the place of reservation, to the singing of the hymn “Pange lingua” or some other eucharistic song.

This rite of transfer of the Blessed Sacrament may not be carried out if the Liturgy of the Lord’s Passion will not be celebrated in that same church on the following day.

55. The Blessed Sacrament should be reserved in a closed tabernacle or pyx. Under no circumstances may it be exposed in a monstrance.

The place where the tabernacle or pyx is situated must not be made to resemble a tomb, and the expression “tomb” is to be avoided.

The chapel of repose is not prepared so as to represent the “Lord’s burial” but for the custody of the eucharistic bread that will be distributed in Communion on Good Friday.

9. Is there to be Eucharistic adoration at this time?

According to Paschales Solemnitatis:

56. After the Mass of the Lord’s Supper the faithful should be encouraged to spend a suitable period of time during the night in the church in adoration before the Blessed Sacrament which has been solemnly reserved.

Where appropriate, this prolonged eucharistic adoration may be accompanied by the reading of some part of the Gospel of St. John (chs. 13-17).

From midnight onwards, however, the adoration should be made without external solemnity, because the day of the Lord’s passion has begun.

10. What happens to the decoration of the Church at this time?

According to Paschales Solemnitatis:

57. After Mass the altar should be stripped.

It is fitting that any crosses in the church be covered with a red or purple veil, unless they have already been veiled on the Saturday before the Fifth Sunday of Lent.

Lamps should not be lit before the images of saints.

 

Looking for Something Good to Read?

May I suggest my commentary on the Gospel of Mark?

It goes through the whole text and provides fascinating information that you may have never heard before.

It also comes with a verse-by-verse study guide with questions that you or your study group can use.

And it comes with a lectionary-based study guide, so you can read along with Mark in the liturgy and ponder its meaning before or after Mass.

Right now, this commentary is available exclusively on Verbum Catholic software.

Verbum is an incredibly powerful study tool that I use every day, and I heartily recommend it to others.

I can also save you 10% when you get the commentary or one of the bundles of Verbum software. Just use the code JIMMY1 at checkout.

CLICK HERE TO GET JIMMY AKIN’S STUDIES ON MARK.

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What is Triduum, and why is it so important?

We are about to leave Lent and enter the liturgical season known as “Triduum.”

What is this season, and why is it does the Church say that it is “the culmination of the entire liturgical year”?

Here are 6 things you need to know.

1. What does “Triduum” mean?

It comes from Latin roots that mean, essentially, “the three days” or “period of three days” (tri- = three, -dies = days).

Today it refers to the liturgical season that follows Lent and precedes the Easter season.

According to the main document governing the celebrations connected with Easter, Paschales Solemnitatis:

38. . . . This time is called “the triduum of the crucified, buried and risen”; it is also called the “Easter Triduum” because during it is celebrated the Paschal Mystery, that is, the passing of the Lord from this world to his Father.

 

2. When does Triduum begin and end?

According to the General Norms for the Liturgical Year and the Calendar:

19. The Easter triduum begins with the evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper, reaches its high point in the Easter Vigil, and closes with evening prayer on Easter Sunday.

This means that Triduum thus runs from the evening of Holy Thursday to the evening of Easter Sunday.

It thus includes three full days, though since the season doesn’t begin at midnight, these three days are distributed as follows:

  1. The last part of Holy Thursday
  2. Good Friday
  3. Holy Saturday
  4. The first part of Easter Sunday

3. Why is Triduum important?

According to the General Norms:

18. Christ redeemed us all and gave perfect glory to God principally through his paschal mystery: dying he destroyed our death and rising he restored our life.

Therefore the Easter triduum of the passion and resurrection of Christ is the culmination of the entire liturgical year. Thus the solemnity of Easter has the same kind of preeminence in the liturgical year that Sunday has in the week.

4. How is fasting observed in this season?

According to Paschales Solemnitatis:

39. The Easter fast is sacred on the first two days of the Triduum, during which, according to ancient tradition, the Church fasts “because the Spouse has been taken away.”

Good Friday is a day of fasting and abstinence; it is also recommended that Holy Saturday be so observed, in order that the Church with uplifted and welcoming heart be ready to celebrate the joys of the Sunday of the resurrection.

Fasting and abstinence are thus required on Good Friday and fasting is recommended on Holy Saturday.

(Note: These days are reckoned as beginning at midnight. Good Friday begins at 12:01 a.m. Friday, not at the Mass of the Lord’s Supper the preceding evening.)

5. What is “Tenebrae“?

Tenebrae (Latin, “shadows,” “gloom,” “darkness”) is the name formerly given to a particular service of readings done at this time of year. According to Paschales Solemnitatis:

40. It is recommended that there be a communal celebration of the Office of Readings and Morning Prayer on Good Friday and Holy Saturday. It is fitting that the bishop should celebrate the Office in the cathedral, with as far as possible the participation of the clergy and people.

This Office, formerly called “Tenebrae,” held a special place in the devotion of the faithful as they meditated upon the passion, death and burial of the Lord, while awaiting the announcement of the resurrection.

6. How to learn more?

Keep watching this space.

I’m going to be doing a special “things you need to know” series over the next few days to explain the mysteries of Triduum in greater depth.

Here are the current posts in the series:

 

Looking for Something Good to Read?

May I suggest my commentary on the Gospel of Mark?

It goes through the whole text and provides fascinating information that you may have never heard before.

It also comes with a verse-by-verse study guide with questions that you or your study group can use.

And it comes with a lectionary-based study guide, so you can read along with Mark in the liturgy and ponder its meaning before or after Mass.

Right now, this commentary is available exclusively on Verbum Catholic software.

Verbum is an incredibly powerful study tool that I use every day, and I heartily recommend it to others.

I can also save you 10% when you get the commentary or one of the bundles of Verbum software. Just use the code JIMMY1 at checkout.

CLICK HERE TO GET JIMMY AKIN’S STUDIES ON MARK.

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phases-of-the-moon1This Sunday I winced when we got to the following line in the Gospel reading:

It was now about noon and darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon because of an eclipse of the sun (Luke 23:44-45).

“An eclipse of the sun”? Really? Surely the translators of the New American Bible, which we hear at Mass, didn’t render the passage that way!

But they did.

Sigh.

Here’s why I had the reaction I did . . .

 

How the Moon Works

Luna—or “the moon” (as anyone who’s ever lived there calls it)—orbits the earth every 29.5 days. It also rotates on its axis once every 29.5 days.

That’s not a bizarre coincidence. It’s due to a phenomenon known as tidal locking.

Just like the moon’s gravity raises tides on earth, the earth’s gravity also tugs on the moon—so much so that over time this tugging adjusted the moon’s rotation and orbit until they were in synch.

This isn’t unique to our moon. Bunches of moons in the solar system are tidally locked to the planets they orbit.

One consequence of tidal locking is that the moon keeps the same face turned toward the earth at all times. We didn’t know what was on the far side of the moon until we started sending probes and space ships to orbit it.

But, much of the time, we can’t even see all of the near side of the moon.

When the moon is on the same side of the earth as the sun, the sun’s rays fall on the far side of the moon, so the near side—the side that always faces us—is dark. We call that the new moon.

When the moon is on the opposite side of the earth from the sun, the sun’s rays fall on the near side of the moon, illuminating it fully. We call that the full moon.

When the moon is alongside the earth, the sun’s rays fall on half of the near side, so half of it is lit up. We call that a half moon.

This is the true explanation for the phases of the moon we see each month. It isn’t the earth’s shadow falling on the moon (that rarely happens). It’s because of which part of the near side the sun’s rays are falling on as the moon goes around us.

So what does this have to do with the Crucifixion?

 

How Eclipses Work

An eclipse occurs when one astronomical body moves between two others.

Earth experiences two types of eclipses: solar ones and lunar ones.

A solar eclipse occurs when the moon moves directly between the earth and the sun, blocking (or partly blocking) our view of the sun.

A lunar eclipse occurs when the earth moves directly between the sun and the moon, causing the earth’s shadow to fall on the moon and turn some or all of it dark (or red! Cool!).

Lunar eclipses are the rare occasions when the earth’s shadow really does fall on the moon.

 

When Eclipses Occur

Now, based on what we said about how the phases of the moon work, let me ask you a question: When is it possible for eclipses to occur?

If you think about it, the answers should come pretty quickly.

If a solar eclipse occurs when the moon moves directly between the earth and the sun then the moon must be between the earth and the sun—at the phase that we call a new moon.

Solar eclipses can’t occur at any other time, because the moon is in the wrong part of the sky.

(Also: Solar eclipses don’t occur every full moon because being on the same side of the earth as the sun is not the same as being directly between the earth and the sun.)

Conversely, if lunar eclipses occur when the earth is directly between the sun and the moon then they must happen when the moon is on the opposite side of the earth from the sun—at the phase we call the full moon.

That’s the only time lunar eclipses can occur.

(And: Lunar eclipses don’t occur every full moon because there’s a difference between being on the opposite side of the earth from the sun and being directly opposite the sun from the earth.)

So, again, what does this have to do with the Crucifixion?

 

How the Jewish Calendar Worked

In Jesus’ day, Jews used what is known as a lunisolar calendar. That means that it took into account information about the moon (like what phase it was in) and information about the sun (like when the equinoxes and solstices occurred).

The relevant part for our purposes is the lunar part. Specifically: The Jewish months were tied to the phases of the moon.

Every month began with a new moon feast, as we read about in the Bible (e.g., Colossians 2:16).

At Jerusalem, they even had a court declare the beginning of the month with the sighting of the new moon.

The Mishnah—a collection of oral laws written down around A.D. 200—even has rules about who can serve as a witness to the sighting of the new moon and how to test them to see if they’re lying or mistaken.

Once the court determined that the new moon had been sighted, messengers were sent from Jerusalem to proclaim the beginning of a new month (even in English, the word “month” comes from the word “moon”) to nearby Jewish communities.

So the sighting of the new moon was essential to the beginning of a month and to any holydays that occurred during that month.

Like Passover.

 

Why Passover Is Important

Passover, the holiday that celebrated the deliverance of the Israelites from slavery in Egypt, is important for our purposes, because it is when Jesus was crucified.

All four of the Gospels link Jesus’ Crucifixion to Passover:

“You know that after two days the Passover is coming, and the Son of man will be delivered up to be crucified” (Matt. 26:2).

It was now two days before the Passover and the feast of Unleavened Bread. And the chief priests and the scribes were seeking how to arrest him by stealth, and kill him” (Mark 14:1).

Then came the day of Unleavened Bread, on which the passover lamb had to be sacrificed. So Jesus sent Peter and John, saying, “Go and prepare the passover for us, that we may eat it” (Luke 24:7-8).

[Pilate said:] “But you have a custom that I should release one man for you at the Passover; will you have me release for you the King of the Jews?” (John 18:39).

So, chronologically speaking, we have really, really good evidence that Jesus was crucified at Passover.

In fact, it was in part because of Passover that Jesus was crucified then: He was in Jerusalem for the feast when the Jerusalem authorities decided to have him killed.

 

How Passover Worked

Passover took place on the 14th day of the month of Nisan. Leviticus explains:

In the first month [i.e., Nisan], on the fourteenth day of the month in the evening, is the Lord’s Passover (Lev. 23:5).

Nisan—like every month of the Jewish calendar—began with the sighting of the new moon.

So . . . what phase was the moon at when Passover occurred?

If the moon orbits the earth every 29.5 days then 14 days into that cycle would be at or very near the full moon.

Now the other shoe can drop: What kind of eclipse can occur at the full moon?

A lunar eclipse.

Not a solar eclipse.

 

That’s Why I Flinched

The reason I flinched at Mass was because the translators of the New American Bible rendered Luke 23:44-45 as:

It was now about noon and darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon because of an eclipse of the sun.

GAH! No! That’s the kind of eclipse that can’t occur at Passover!

Now, you might think that the NAB translators didn’t know this.

But that’s not plausible, because the fact this wouldn’t have been a solar eclipse is regularly commented upon in commentaries on Luke, and the translators certainly were familiar with and consulted such commentaries in the translation process.

They knew, but for some reason they just didn’t care.

 

An Unforced Error

If you check the Greek text that they translated “because of an eclipse of the sun,” you’ll see that it reads:

tou hēliou eklipontos

Tou hēliou means “of the sun” (“of” here plausibly being taken in the sense “because of”).

Eklipontos sounds very much like the word “eclipse,” doesn’t it?

Was Luke asserting that there was an eclipse?

It’s possible that Luke didn’t understand the timing of eclipses. This was not widely understood in the ancient world, though some people were aware of how eclipses worked.

In fact, more than 600 years earlier, the Greek philosopher Thales wowed his contemporaries by predicting an eclipse that occurred on May 28, 585 B.C.

Even if Luke didn’t know about the timing of eclipses, though, he wasn’t asserting that an eclipse in our sense was occurring.

Eklipontos is a participle of the verb ekleipō, which means “fail/leave off/cease.”

This is where we get the English word “eclipse.” A solar eclipse is when the sun’s light fails or ceases because the moon passes in front of it.

But to say that the sun’s light failed is not the same thing as saying that a solar eclipse occurred. (After all, the sun’s light fails every single evening.)

The translators of the NAB have thus committed an unforced error.

The Greek text does not require the translation they have given. It is perfectly acceptable—and preferable—to translate the passage like other translations do:

  • [there was] darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour, while the sun’s light failed (RSV).
  • and the sun’s light failed, so that darkness came over the whole land until the ninth hour (NJB).
  • there was darkness over all the earth until the ninth hour. And the sun was darkened (Douay-Rheims).
  • there was a darkness over all the earth until the ninth hour. And the sun was darkened (KJV).
  • and darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon, for the sun stopped shining (NIV).

 

What Science Says

Science does not tell us what the darkness that covered the land during the Crucifixion was.

It could have been caused—through divine providence—by any number of agencies God choose.

Some scholars have proposed that God used a sirocco to stir up a dust storm. Others have proposed it was dense cloud cover.

It could have been something else—including something even more directly miraculous.

Yet if science suggests anything about the darkness, it suggests that it was not a solar eclipse.

But our scientific detective story isn’t over yet.

To quote Lt. Columbo, “Just one more thing . . .”

 

One More Thing

Remember I asked what kind of eclipse could occur during the full moon at Passover?

A lunar one, right?

So it’s natural to ask: Did one occur?

I’ve discussed elsewhere the fact that Jesus was most probably crucified on April 3, A.D. 33.

Guess what!

There was a partial lunar eclipse visible from Jerusalem when the moon rose that night.

We may even have a reference to this in the New Testament.

On the day of Pentecost, as Peter preaches, he quotes a prophecy from Joel 2:31, telling the assembled crowd:

the sun shall be turned into darkness and the moon into blood (Acts 2:20).

Peter indicates Joel’s prophecy was being fulfilled in their own day, and the fact that the sun had turned to darkness during the Crucifixion was known to Peter (and recorded by Luke, the author of Acts).

A lunar eclipse can make the moon appear reddish, and Peter may be alluding to the lunar eclipse that occurred a few weeks earlier, on April 3 of 33—the night that Jesus lay in the tomb.

Consider the symbolism: Jesus had just shed his blood, and now the moon in the sky seems to bleed.

No wonder Peter might see this as the fulfillment of prophecy!

So, next time you hear the NAB’s awful translation of Luke 23:44-45 read at Mass, take comfort in the fact that there may well have been an eclipse at the Crucifixion—just not a solar one.

 

Looking for Something Good to Read?

May I suggest my commentary on the Gospel of Mark?

It goes through the whole text and provides fascinating information that you may have never heard before.

It also comes with a verse-by-verse study guide with questions that you or your study group can use.

And it comes with a lectionary-based study guide, so you can read along with Mark in the liturgy and ponder its meaning before or after Mass.

Right now, this commentary is available exclusively on Verbum Catholic software.

Verbum is an incredibly powerful study tool that I use every day, and I heartily recommend it to others.

I can also save you 10% when you get the commentary or one of the bundles of Verbum software. Just use the code JIMMY1 at checkout.

CLICK HERE TO GET JIMMY AKIN’S STUDIES ON MARK.

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triumphal-entry-medium2bPalm 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. Why do we do this and how is it supposed to work?

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?

It is not necessary that palm branches be used in the procession. Other forms of greenery can also be used.

According to the Directory on Popular Piety and the Liturgy:

The procession, commemorating Christ’s messianic entry into Jerusalem, is joyous and popular in character. The faithful usually keep palm or olive branches, or other greenery which have been blessed on Palm Sunday in their homes or in their work places.

4. Should any instruction be given to the faithful?

According to the Directory on Popular Piety and the Liturgy:

The faithful, however, should be instructed as to the meaning of this celebration so that they might grasp its significance.

They should be opportunely reminded that the important thing is participation at the procession and not only the obtaining of palm or olive branches.

Palms or olive branches should not be kept as amulets, or for therapeutic or magical reasons to dispel evil spirits or to prevent the damage these cause in the fields or in the homes, all of which can assume a certain superstitious guise.

Palms and olive branches are kept in the home as a witness to faith in Jesus Christ, the messianic king, and in his Paschal Victory.

5. What was Jesus doing at the Triumphal Entry?

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI explains:

Jesus claims the right of kings, known throughout antiquity, to requisition modes of transport.

The use of an animal on which no one had yet sat is a further pointer to the right of kings. Most striking, though, are the Old Testament allusions that give a deeper meaning to the whole episode. . . .

For now let us note this: Jesus is indeed making a royal claim. He wants his path and his action to be understood in terms of Old Testament promises that are fulfilled in his person. . . .

At the same time, through this anchoring of the text in Zechariah 9:9, a “Zealot” exegesis of the kingdom is excluded: Jesus is not building on violence; he is not instigating a military revolt against Rome. His power is of another kind: it is in God’s poverty, God’s peace, that he identifies the only power that can redeem [Jesus of Nazareth, vol. 2].

6. What does the reaction of the crowd show?

It shows that they recognized him as their messianic king.

Benedict XVI notes:

The spreading out of garments likewise belongs to the tradition of Israelite kingship (cf. 2 Kings 9:13). What the disciples do is a gesture of enthronement in the tradition of the Davidic kingship, and it points to the Messianic hope that grew out of the Davidic tradition.

The pilgrims who came to Jerusalem with Jesus are caught up in the disciples’ enthusiasm. They now spread their garments on the street along which Jesus passes.

They pluck branches from the trees and cry out verses from Psalm 118, words of blessing from Israel’s pilgrim liturgy, which on their lips become a Messianic proclamation: “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed is the kingdom of our father David that is coming! Hosanna in the highest!” (Mk 11:9–10; cf. Ps 118:26).

7. What does the word “Hosanna” mean?

Benedict XVI explains:

Originally this was a word of urgent supplication, meaning something like: Come to our aid! The priests would repeat it in a monotone on the seventh day of the Feast of Tabernacles, while processing seven times around the altar of sacrifice, as an urgent prayer for rain.

But as the Feast of Tabernacles gradually changed from a feast of petition into one of praise, so too the cry for help turned more and more into a shout of jubilation.

By the time of Jesus, the word had also acquired Messianic overtones. In the Hosanna acclamation, then, we find an expression of the complex emotions of the pilgrims accompanying Jesus and of his disciples: joyful praise of God at the moment of the processional entry, hope that the hour of the Messiah had arrived, and at the same time a prayer that the Davidic kingship and hence God’s kingship over Israel would be reestablished.

8. Is the same crowd that cheered Jesus’ arrival the one that demanded his crucifixion just a few days later?

Benedict XVI argues that it was not:

All three Synoptic Gospels, as well as Saint John, make it very clear that the scene of Messianic homage to Jesus was played out on his entry into the city and that those taking part were not the inhabitants of Jerusalem, but the crowds who accompanied Jesus and entered the Holy City with him.

This point is made most clearly in Matthew’s account through the passage immediately following the Hosanna to Jesus, Son of David: “When he entered Jerusalem, all the city was stirred, saying: Who is this? And the crowds said: This is the prophet Jesus from Nazareth of Galilee” (Mt 21:10–11). . . .

People had heard of the prophet from Nazareth, but he did not appear to have any importance for Jerusalem, and the people there did not know him.

The crowd that paid homage to Jesus at the gateway to the city was not the same crowd that later demanded his crucifixion.

9. This brings us to the Passion Narrative recorded in the Gospel. How is this to be read at Mass?

According to Paschales Solemnitatis:

33. The passion narrative occupies a special place. It should be sung or read in the traditional way, that is, by three persons who take the parts of Christ, the narrator and the people. The passion is proclaimed by deacons or priests, or by lay readers. In the latter case, the part of Christ should be reserved to the priest.

The proclamation of the passion should be without candles and incense, the greeting and the signs of the cross are omitted; only a deacon asks for the blessing, as he does before the Gospel.

For the spiritual good of the faithful the passion should be proclaimed in its entirety, and the readings which precede it should not be omitted.

Looking for Something Good to Read?

May I suggest my commentary on the Gospel of Mark?

It goes through the whole text and provides fascinating information that you may have never heard before.

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Right now, this commentary is available exclusively on Verbum Catholic software.

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PopeFrancis-fingerThis version of The Weekly Francis covers material released in the last week from 25 February 2016 to 9 March 2016.

Angelus

Daily Homilies (fervorinos)

General Audiences

Homilies

Speeches

Papal Tweets

  • “Open your heart to mercy! Divine mercy is stronger than the sins of men” @Pontifex 3 March 2016
  • “Jesus Christ, with his closeness and tenderness, leads sinners into the place of grace and pardon. This is the mercy of God.” @Pontifex 4 March 2016
  • “May the Lord free us from all temptation that separates us from what is essential in our mission and help rediscover the beauty of faith.” @Pontifex 5 March 2016
  • “The Jubilee of Mercy is a propitious occasion to promote in the world ways to respect life and the dignity of each person.” @Pontifex 6 March 2016
  • “My life, my attitude, the way of going through life, must really be a concrete sign of the fact that God is close to us.” @Pontifex 7 March 2016
  • “Small gestures of love, of tenderness, of care, make people feel that the Lord is with us. This is how the door of mercy opens.” @Pontifex 8 March 2016
  • “God has caressed us with his mercy. Let us bring God’s tender caress to others, to those who are in need.” @Pontifex 9 March 2016

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