Why Do Catholics Use Blessed Palms on Palm Sunday?

Palm Sunday


Having just celebrated the beautiful mass of Palm Sunday, one might wonder, why do we even use Palms and process around the church on this day?

Palm Sunday dates back to 4th century Jerusalem. In this time, early Christians would celebrate Christ’s entrance into Jerusalem with the use of palms. This sentiment is echoed in Matthew’s Gospel chapter 21 when citizens place palm branches before Jesus both before his arrest on Holy Thursday and on his crucifixion on Good Friday.

The tradition continues today as we hold palms throughout the passion reading. This small sign of our faith acknowledges that “those same people who greeted Christ with shouts of joy on Palm Sunday would call for his death on Good Friday—it is a powerful reminder of our own weaknesses,” that we call to mind each Lent. Additionally, on Palm Sunday the presider blesses these palms. He does so because they are symbolic of Jesus’ life, his ministry and ultimately, his sacrifice. Because these palms are now blessed, we cannot simply dispose of them. That is also why we hold onto them until Ash Wednesday, when they are burned, and the Ashes are used to intern bless us.

It is this unending cycle that reminds us how we both praise Christ, and see his comfort when we are at our weakness. Palm Sunday reminds us of his power, his sacrifice, his humility and are relationship with him.

Finally, Palm Sunday is a wonderful reminder of how we continually work against sin, but regardless of our sin, that Jesus will always be there waiting for us, waiting to forgive us, when we are ready to accept his love.

Adapted from Scott Richert’s History of Palm Sunday on catholicism.about.com

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