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Saturday, April 16, 2011

Palm Sunday ushers in Holy Week


MANILA, Philippines – Palm Sunday marks the start of Holy Week, a time for reflection, self-examination, renewal, sacrifice, and repentance among Christians.

Palm Sunday recalls the triumphant entry of Christ into Jerusalem with the residents greeting him with palm fronds and shouts of “Hosanna! (Save us!)”

In churches throughout the country on Sunday, the Catholic faithful will wave “palaspas” fashioned out of palm fronds to be blessed by priests in scarlet vestments, the color of blood to symbolize the supreme sacrifice of Christ for mankind.

The complete narrative of the Lord’s Passion will be read during Mass “as a reminder of the total obedience of Christ to the will of the Father which, through His Holy Cross, brought salvation to the world.”

According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, “The branches of palms signify victory over death and the advent of spiritual victory through Christ. The death and Resurrection of Christ bring us closer to eternal life as man becomes one with God and God becomes one again with man.”

For centuries, palm branches have been used by all nations as an emblem of joy and victory over their enemies.

Balanga Bishop Ruperto C. Santos said that for Catholics, Palm Sunday recalls “the joyful aspects, the memorable events or the high moments of our faith. When we celebrate, we are grateful. We shout ‘Hosanna!.’ But when our faith is tested, and we are called to carry our crosses, we rebel, we complain, and cry out ‘Crucify Him!’

The observance of Lent this year is focused on the significance of baptism, which, according to Pope Benedict XVI, “releases man from the burden of materialism and self-centeredness and enables him to participate more deeply in the Church’s reflection on the death and Resurrection of Christ.”

Palm Sunday has also been declared as “Alay Kapwa” Sunday by the Catholic Church, an occasion to collect donations to help fund the Church’s social services and programs for the poor.

Manila Archbishop Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales had announced that the Archdiocese of Manila and its dioceses will hold a special second collection not only on Palm Sunday, but during all six Sundays of Lent.

Some churches have placed tarpaulins outside to inform the faithful of their activities for the entire week.

Among these churches are the Manila Cathedral in Intramuros and the Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene (Quiapo Church), both in Manila.

Below is the Holy Week schedule of the Manila Cathedral and Quiapo Church:

Manila Cathedral: Palm Sunday (April 17) Mass of Manila Archbishop Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales (7 a.m.); Holy Thursday (April 21) Chrism Mass (7am) and Washing of the Feet (5pm); Good Friday (April 22) Seven Last Words (12 noon) and Commemoration of the Lord’s Passion (3 p.m.); Black Saturday (April 23) Meditation on the Sleep and Death of Christ (10 a.m.) and Easter Vigil celebration (8 p.m.); Easter Sunday (April 24) regular Sunday Mass (7 a.m., 8:30 a.m., 10 a.m., 11:30 a.m., 6 p.m.).

Quiapo Church: Palm Sunday (April 17) Blessing of Palms with Procession and Mass (4:30 a.m.); Holy Monday to Holy Tuesday (April 18-19) Pabasa; Holy Wednesday (April 20) end of Pabasa (3 p.m.), Senakulo (7pm); Holy Thursday (April 21) Mass of the Lord’s Supper (5 p.m.) and Vigil at the Altar of Repose (7 p.m.); Good Friday (April 22) Nazareno Procession (5am), Seven Last Words (12 noon), Celebration of the Lord’s Passion (3 p.m.), Procession of the Sto. Entierro and Start of the Veneration of Cross (5 p.m.); Black Saturday (April 23) Easter Vigil (9 p.m.) Salubong after the Mass; Easter Sunday (April 24) regular Sunday schedule.

To keep up with modern times, the National Shrine of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, popularly known as Baclaran Church, in Parañaque City, is accepting petitions and thanksgiving letters sent by electronic mail.

Fr. Victorino Cueto”, the shrine rector, said the innovation will enable to accommodate people who cannot go to Baclaran, such as those in the provinces or overseas Filipino workers (OFWs).

Since they started the practice about four or five years ago, Cueto said, the church has been getting between 2,500 and 2,800 online and handwritten petitions and between 1,200 and 1,500 letters of thanksgiving weekly.

He said he expects to receive more letters from the faithful especially this Holy Week.

“Usually there are more letters every first Wednesday of the month, Holy Week, and Ash Wednesday,” said Cueto.

Still, the rector stressed the importance of a person going to the church for them to experience what it’s like to be in a praying community.

“Attend the novena. You’ll sense that you a community praying. Here, you know that many of you are praying… the spirit of communion in prayer that is very important. Generally when people come here that is what they feel,” he said.

Petitions and thanksgiving letters can be sent to the website of Baclaran Church at

An official of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) explained that using the internet to evangelize the faithful does not aim to promote laziness among the faithful.

“This is not for the lazy...this is in response to the call of the Holy Father to use the digital medium in spreading the Word of God. We have realized through our experience last year, that there are so many Filipinos abroad who do not have any chance of even seeing a church on Holy Week. So this is our response to that,” Msgr. Pedro Quitorio, CBCP Media Office director, said.


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