Blessing of the Palms at St Hugh
Palm Sunday is the start of Holy Week and it commemorates Jesus’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem. The event is described in all four Gospels, and it is said that an enthusiastic crowd laid down palm branches at Jesus’s feet as he entered the city. On Palm Sunday, palm leaves are distributed and blessed, processions are usually held, and the story of the final week of Jesus’s life is read from the Gospels. The following is an account of the blessing of the palms at Saint Hugh of Grenoble Church in Greenbelt.
Acolytes holding candles and a cross decorated with palm leaves stand by Crescent Road at the entrance to St Hugh School.
The red book is the Roman Missal, “the liturgical book that contains the texts and rubrics for the celebration of the Mass in the Roman Rite of the Catholic Church.” The book is opened at “Palm Sunday of the Passion of the Lord.” The altar server on the left holds an aspersorium (bucket) with holy water and an aspergillum. The server on the right holds a thurible (metal censer suspended from chains) and an incense boat.
Father Walter Tappe (right) and Deacon Desi Vikor, both wearing red vestments, approach the place where people are gathered.
The choir sings “Hosanna to the Son of David.”
Father Tappe: “Dear brothers and sisters,
since the beginning of Lent until now
we have prepared our hearts by penance and charitable works.
Today we gather together to herald with the whole Church
the beginning of the celebration
of our Lord’s Paschal Mystery,
that is to say, of his Passion and Resurrection.
For it was to accomplish this mystery
that he entered his own city of Jerusalem.
Therefore, with all faith and devotion,
let us commemorate
the Lord’s entry into the city for our salvation,
following in his footsteps,
so that being made by his grace partakers of the Cross,
we may have a share also in his Resurrection and in his life.”
Father Tappe blesses the palms: “Almighty ever-living God,
sanctify these branches with your blessing,
that we who follow Christ the King in exultation,
may reach the eternal Jerusalem through him.
Who lives and reigns for ever and ever.”
Father Tappe sprinkles holy water using an aspergillum.
People hold up palm leaves to be blessed.
Father Tappe transfers incense grains from the incense boat into the thurible.
Deacon Desi Vikor censes the book on which the Gospel readings are written.
Deacon Desi Vikor reads Mark 11:1-10.
When Jesus and his disciples drew near to Jerusalem, to Bethphage and Bethany at the Mount of Olives, he sent two of his disciples and said to them, “Go into the village opposite you, and immediately on entering it, you will find a colt tethered on which no one has ever sat. Untie it and bring it here. If anyone should say to you, ‘Why are you doing this?’ reply, ‘The Master has need of it and will send it back here at once.’” So they went off and found a colt tethered at a gate outside on the street, and they untied it. Some of the bystanders said to them, “What are you doing, untying the colt?” They answered them just as Jesus had told them to, and they permitted them to do it. So they brought the colt to Jesus and put their cloaks over it. And he sat on it. Many people spread their cloaks on the road, and others spread leafy branches that they had cut from the fields. Those preceding him as well as those following kept crying out: “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed is the kingdom of our father David that is to come! Hosanna in the highest!”
Father Tappe gives a brief homily.
The thurifer leads the procession to the church, carrying a thurible with burning incense. An acolyte carrying a cross decorated with palm leaves follows, and she is flanked by two acolytes carrying candles. The choir, the deacon, the priest, and other ministers walk behind, and the people walk after them.
People sing hymns on their way to the church.
The procession enters St. Hugh Church for the second part of the Liturgy of the Palms. The purple drapes above the church entrance are associated with Lent and are not removed until Easter Vigil on Holy Saturday.