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SHC marks Passion Sunday with palm procession

The people hold up palm branches during the blessing of the palms, SHPC foyer, 8 Apr 2017.

KOTA KINABALU – Sacred Heart Cathedral here marked Passion Sunday with palm procession at the beginning of the Sunset Mass on 8 Apr 2017.

Archbishop John Wong blessed the palms of the thousand-odd parishioners at the foyer of the Sacred Heart Parish Centre before proclaiming the Matthean account of Christ’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem.  Then he led them in procession into the cathedral.

After the two readings, the Matthean Passion Narrative was proclaimed.

At the altar, he was joined by Abp Emeritus John Lee.

Passion Sunday ushers in Holy Week.  Holy Week is the last week of Lent and is the reenactment of the Passion of Jesus.

Holy Week observances began in Jerusalem in the earliest days of the Church, when devout people travelled to Jerusalem at Passover to reenact the events of the week leading up to the Resurrection.

Egeria was a Christian who traveled widely during the period of 381-385 and wrote about Christian customs and observances in Egypt, Palestine, and Asia Minor. She described how religious tourists to Jerusalem reenacted the events of Holy Week. On Palm Sunday afternoon, the crowds waved palm fronds as they made a procession from the Mount of Olives into the city. Of course, the observances must have begun quite a number of years before Egeria witnessed them, or they wouldn’t have been so elaborate. It’s just that Egeria’s description is the earliest the Church still has. The tourists took the customs home with them. Holy week observances spread to Spain by the fifth century, to Gaul and England by the early seventh century. They didn’t spread to Rome until the twelfth century.

The purpose of Holy Week is to reenact, relive, and participate in the passion of Jesus Christ.

Holy Week is the same in the eastern and western Church, but because eastern Christians use the Julian Calendar to calculate Easter, the celebrations occur at different times. However, the following events in the week before Easter are the same, east and west, relative to the date of Easter:

• Palm Sunday (or Passion Sunday), the entrance of Jesus into Jerusalem.
• Holy Thursday (or Maundy Thursday), the institution of Eucharist and the betrayal by Judas.
• Good Friday, the arrest, trial, crucifixion, death, and burial of Jesus Christ.
• Holy Saturday, the Sabbath on which Jesus rested in the grave.

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