Thursday, April 2, 2009

Welcome to church. Take some palm.

You might have heard the complaint that goes something like, “Some people only go to church on Christmas and Easter!”

True, it’s not the optimal expression of one’s faith, but it’s better to have full churches one some occasions rather than none, right?

Two other times that witness full churches are Ash Wednesday and Palm Sunday, which is coming up this April 5. Ash Wednesday of course is where last year’s palms are recycled into the ashes marking Catholics’ foreheads.

Palm Sunday packs in the crowds too, as churchgoers take home blessed palm fronds. Whether you display the palm in your home in a vase or turn the fronds into simple crosses tacked above doorways (my family’s preferred practice over the years), there’s an art to handling palm.

This week the Catholic Standard & Times shows how the masters weave palm – both in step-by-step photos and a fascinating story by Lou Baldwin in the newspaper, and four videos of the nimble fingers at work on our web site,

The video is new for our web site, but weaving palm is nothing new for the parishioners of Our Lady of Consolation in the Tacony neighborhood of Northeast Philadelphia. Basically an Italian immigrant tradition, intricate palm displays are becoming more prevalent throughout the Archdiocese of Philadelphia’s churches.

They’re a beautiful way to welcome the King of Kings as we commemorate his entrance in Jerusalem this Sunday.

Just as palms give way to ashes then to the giving of new palms at the end of the Lenten journey, so too do we journey with Jesus from the excitement of this palm Sunday to the nadir of his Passion and death on Good Friday, and the joy of His resurrection on Easter Sunday.

And please God, perhaps some of the Palm Sunday Mass participants will be moved to stay with Jesus, like the disciples in Gethsemane, throughout Holy week to Easter.

As you try your hand at weaving some palm, try also to devote more intense prayer next week beginning Sunday.

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