Tomorrow is Palm Sunday and the inauguration of the great days of Holy Week. The annual festivity of our rebirth as our life in Christ is once again deepened and renewed.
Sadly this year, we will not be able to celebrate the great liturgies of the Church together. However, that does not mean that we, in our own homes, cannot still experience some part of these transformative days. I will continue to send you supportive materials beginning with this material for Palm Sunday, to help you and your family enter into these Holy Days. Know of my prayers and intercessions for each and everyone of you.
I would like to encourage you to take time to read the Passion of Jesus Christ according to Matthew (Matthew 26.14 – 27.66). Perhaps take a few moments afterward to consider each of the ways that Jesus Christ, in his passion, now comes to find us in the passion of these days.
After each consideration pray aloud:
“We adore you O Christ and we praise, because by your Holy Cross you have redeemed the world.”
– Consider the Christ who is with all those who have become ill with COVID-19.
– Consider the Christ who is with all those who have already died.
– Consider the Christ who is in all the medical providers and hospital workers.
– Consider the Christ who is with family and friends separated because of the need for physical distancing.
– Consider the Christ who is in all those extra-ordinary women and men who work to keep our grocery stores open, the transportation of food to markets, the workers who must maintain so many basic essential services.
– Consider the Christ who is with all those now experiencing a lay-off or job loss, and fear for their economic future.
– Consider the Christ who is in every moment of our worry, anxiety, alienation and uncertainty.
This is the Christ of the passion. This is the Christ in COVID-19. This is the Christ who became fully human for you and me.
Pray the Lord’s Prayer…
At Home Palm Sunday Faith Reflection – April 5, 2020
We offer you the following material for your praying and reflecting on God’s Word.
click: Printable copy of this Sunday Faith Reflection
click: Printable copy of the Table Ritual – use within the context of your Sunday evening meal. The ritual is to help create an encounter with a Eucharistic spirituality that is intrinsic to the celebration of the Sunday Mass.
“While they were talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them ‘Peace be with you.’ They were startled and terrified and thought that they were seeing a ghost. He said to them ‘Why are you frightened and why do doubts arise in your hearts?’”
It was the time after the death of Jesus. His disciples were in the upper room reflecting on the events that had just happened. They were locked in the room, scared as they were afraid of what the Jews might do to his disciples. They were already in fear but can you imagine the fear rise dramatically when Jesus appears to them? They were terrified and doubtful. Our current situation will create a lot of fear and doubt, some outright terror, but Jesus reminds us that we have a safe haven with him. He can take all our fears, our anxieties, our confusion, our doubtfulness and offer them up to God. Our hope and faith are found in God.
As we navigate a new normal with many restrictions, our spiritual lives do not need to suffer. There are still ways to observe this Holy season of Lent. The traditional practices of prayer, fasting and almsgiving are still possible. It is imperative that during this time, we continue with our Lenten practices and to use this trial as an opportunity to elevate, adapt and deepen our relationship with Jesus.
Lectio Divina with the Sunday Gospel
Lectio Divina means ‘divine reading’. It is a way to pray using the holy scriptures in a step-by-step process.
Gather the entire family around and make the sign of the Cross. Light a candle.
Leader: “Holy Spirit, you inspired the authors of Sacred Scripture to write what you wanted us to know for the sake of our salvation. Inspire us now to hear those words not only with our ears, but our hearts, so that we might know your saving Word for us today.”
- Have one person read the scripture slowly out loud and have a few moments of silence afterwards.
- Read the scripture again out loud and choose a single word or short phrase that touches, speaks or surprises you. Share with everyone.
- Read the scripture out loud one more time and discuss what is happening directly in the text.
- Meditate on what God is doing now in our lives through this text.
- Respond to what God is doing through prayer.
- Contemplate on what God is asking of me through this text and how to use these words as a gift for others through my actions.
- After a period of silence, end with the Sign of the Cross.
The Holy Gospel for April 5, 2020 (shorter version)
A reading from the Holy Gospel according to Matthew
Now Jesus stood before the governor, and the governor asked him, ‘Are you the King of the Jews?’ Jesus said, ‘You say so.’ But when he was accused by the chief priests and elders, he did not answer.
Then Pilate said to him, ‘Do you not hear how many accusations they make against you?’ But he gave him no answer, not event to a single charge, so that the governor was greatly amazed.
Now at the festival the governor was accustomed to release a prisoner for the crowd, anyone they wanted. At that time they had a notorious prisoner, called Barabbas. So after they had gathered, Pilate said to them, ‘Whom do you want me to release for you, Barabbas or Jesus who is called the Christ?’
For he realized that it was out of jealousy that they had handed him over. While he was sitting on the judgment seat, his wife sent word to him, ‘Have nothing to do with that innocent man, for today I have suffered a great deal because of a dream about him.’
Now the chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowds to ask for Barabbas and to have Jesus killed. The governor again said to them, ‘Which of the two do you want me to release for you?’ And they said, ‘Barabbas.’
Pilate said to them, ‘Then what should I do with Jesus who is called the Christ?’ All of them said, ‘Let him be crucified!’ Then he asked, ‘Why, what evil has he done?’ But they shouted all the more, ‘Let him be crucified!’
So when Pilate saw that he could do nothing, but rather that a riot was beginning, he took some water and washed his hands before the crowd saying, ‘I am innocent of this man’s blood; see to it yourselves.’
The people as a whole answered, ‘His blood be on us and on our children!’ So he released Barabbas for them, and after flogging Jesus, he handed him over to be crucified. Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the governor’s headquarters, and they gathered the whole cohort around him.
They stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him, and after twisting some thorns into a crown, they put it on his head. They put a reed in his right hand and knelt before him and mocked him, saying ‘Hail, King of the Jews!’ They spat on him, and took the reed and struck him on the head.
After mocking him, they stripped him of the robe and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him away to crucify him. As they went out, they came upon a man from Cyrene, named Simon: they compelled this man to carry his cross.
And when they came to a place called Golgotha, they offered him wine to drink mixed with gall; but when he tasted it, he would not drink it. And when they had crucified him, they divided his clothes among themselves by casting lots: then they sat down there and kept watch over him.
Over his head, they put the charge against him, which read, ‘This is Jesus, the King of the Jews.’ Then two bandits were crucified with him, one on his right and one on his left. Those who passed by derided him, shaking their heads and saying, ‘You who would destroy the temple and build it in three days, save yourself! If you are the Son of God, come down from the Cross.’
In the same way the chief priests also, along with the scribes and elders, were mocking him, saying, ‘He saved others: he can not save himself. He is the King of Israel; let him come down from the Cross now, and we will believe in him. He trusts in God; let God deliver him now if he wants to; for he said, ‘I am God’s son.”
The bandits who were crucified with him also taunted him in the same way. From noon on, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon. And about 3 o’clock, Jesus cried with a loud voice, ‘Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?’
That is, ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’ When some of the bystanders heard it, they said. ‘This man is calling for Elijah.’
At once one of them ran and got a sponge, filled it with sour wine, put it on a stick, and gave it to him to drink. But the others said, ‘Wait, let us see whether Elijah will come to save him.’
Then Jesus cried again with a loud voice, and breathed his last. At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. The earth shook and the rocks were split.
The tombs also were opened, and many bodies of the Saints who had fallen asleep were raised. After his resurrection, they came out of the tombs and entered the Holy City and appeared to many.
Now when the centurion and those with him, who were keeping watch over Jesus, saw the earth quake and what took place, they were terrified and said, ‘Truly this man was God’s son!’
The Gospel of the Lord
* Palm or Passion Sunday begins the most sacred week of the Church year, Holy Week. During these days, we prepare ourselves for Easter by prayerful reflection upon the events of Jesus’ Passion and death. Display a crucifix in a prominent place this week, as a reminder of the salvation Christ won for us. The crucifix can also be the focal point for family prayer during Holy Week.
* On the last Sunday of Lent, we remember the sacrifice that Jesus made for us when he accepted the cross. Throughout this week, Holy Week, we remember that Jesus was obedient even unto death so that our sins would be forgiven. Say a prayer to Jesus asking for his forgiveness.
* Even though we will not receive blessed palm branches this Sunday, remember the people of Jerusalem used palms, because that was what was available to them. Celebrate Palm Sunday with branches from your own yard – bringing what you have available before the Lord.
Together at the evening meal or the main meal of the day, gathered around the common table, we give thanks to God who is the sustainer and protector of our days. This ritual gives us the opportunity to connect that which we will share at this table with the everlasting abundance of God.
Once all are gathered at the table, a member of the family lights two candles, placed as the centre piece of the table. After which one participant or all pray together.
O God, who scatters the darkness of our world, may the lighting of these candles remind us that you continue to overcome all darkness that attempts to overshadow your light. May we always see the brightness of your light and the radiance of your truth, through Christ our Lord. Amen
A member of the household pours water from a common jug, into individual glasses. After which one participant or all pray together.
O God who sends down the rains to water the earth so that the soil may produce a rich and bountiful harvest, may this water refresh us and satisfy our every thirst as we place all of our hope and faith in you, through Christ our Lord. Amen
All take a drink of the water together.
As a loaf of bread is broken and shared among those at table.
O God who is our daily bread for health of mind and body, we pray that this bread now broken and shared will keep us ever mindful of your abundant love and mercy. Nourished by this bread may we always be bread for one another, through Christ our Lord. Amen
Bread loaf or large bun is shared among those at table.
*Meal continues as per usual.
Wine or Fruit Juice
As the meal draws to conclusion, a small glass of wine or fruit juice is poured out for all at table. As each glass is held up, all pray together.
Blessed are you Lord God of all creation. Through your goodness we have this fruit of the vine which earth has given and human hands have made. May this blessing cup make us always mindful of the love which you have poured out for us in the Blood of Christ so that we might live each day in the promise of eternal life. Thanks be to God.
Together all drink the glass of wine or fruit juice.
Palm Sunday Mass Live Streamed
Sunday Mass with Archbishop Gagnon will be live-streamed from the Archdiocese of Winnipeg media outlets.
The live broadcast becomes functional approximately 5 minutes before the start of the liturgy. Join the Celebration of the Holy Eucharist through these options:
Membership on Facebook or YouTube not required to view the stream!