Palm Sunday, Still One of the Most Anticipated Religious Practices in the Philippines Despite the Pandemic

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Today, the Minor Basilica of Saint Michael the Archangel in Tayabas City, Quezon Province was full (3 persons per pew) for the 8:00 am mass despite the pandemic. I arrived not so early so I had to sit outside the church with others (about 200 of us). Proper measures were observed the entire time with some police officers in uniforms visible around the church to remind the faithful of their duties towards their country while practicing their faith. I thank God for their dedication. I felt even more thankful when I spotted some of them holding both their baton and palm branches in their hands.

Lent and Easter are the most important seasons for the Church. During lent, the faithful prepare themselves spiritually for the celebration of Easter which is the day when our Lord Jesus Christ conquered death by his resurrection. The Sunday before Easter is called the Palm Sunday.

In Matthew chapter 21, the evangelist recorded Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem. In verse 5, he quoted Isaiah 62:11 and Zechariah 9:9; “Say to daughter Zion, ‘Behold, your king comes to you, meek and riding on an ass, and on a colt, the foal of a beast of burden.” In verse 8-9, “Most of the crowd spread their garments on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. And the crowd that went before him and that followed him shouted, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!”

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Palm Sunday is the day when the Church commemorates this part of the Holy Scriptures. This popular religious practice is something that the faithful anticipates every year. The preparation starts as early as the day before Palm Sunday. In the Philippines, those in the urban areas go to the market or in sidewalks near the churches to buy ready-made palaspas or beautifully woven young coconut leaves, while those in the provinces normally make palaspas by themselves. The above photo is my daughter holding a palaspas made by my father-in-law.

After the celebration of the Holy Eucharist and the blessing of palms leaves. The faithful stick these blessed branches into the corners of their houses especially in their home altars. We believe that Satan and his subordinates fear anything that is blessed by a priest, whom Jesus himself anointed through the Sacrament of the Holy Orders.

Let us serve Christ and the Church in all circumstances!

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