Palm Sunday

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Contents: Volume 2 - Palm Sunday & the Triduum

March 25 – 31 2018






1. -- Lanie LeBlanc OP

2. -- Carol & Dennis Keller

3. -- Brian Gleeson CP

4. -- Paul O'Reilly SJ

5. --

6. –  (Your reflection can be here!)





Palm Sunday 2018

The Gospel reading for Palm Sunday is long, involved, and familiar, but also one that provides multiple places for reflection during Holy Week and leading to the Triduum. Throughout the reading, I found myself stopping and contrasting the words/actions/intentions of the minor characters to the better ones of Jesus, the centurion, and Joseph. I asked myself some pointed questions some of which I will share with you.

1. When do I tend to devalue the goodness of someone else's kindness (such as the woman who anointed Jesus) because of my own shortcomings or lack of action?

2. When do I act on my own agenda like Judas did without fully understanding an issue or before checking with others who are more in the know?

3. When do I follow Jesus's instructions and expect things will go as he promised or do I change the plan because I don't think such happenings will ever really happen?

4. How realistic is my view of myself, both my strengths and my weaknesses, in spiritual matters?

5. How often do I cave in to tiredness or self absorption or distractions instead of making time to "watch and pray"?

6. What causes me to water down or avoid the truth rather than stand strong for it?

7. How often do my words or actions demean or ridicule anyone else, intentionally or otherwise?

8. How do I (society and the church) respond to those who make what seem to be outlandish and radical claims (like Jesus's were in his time)?

9. When do I feel abandoned and how do I "recover"?

10. What will help me be "courageous" when it is time to do the right thing, no matter what?

Have a blessed and prayerful Holy Week!


Dr. Lanie LeBlanc OP

Southern Dominican Laity





Palm Sunday & the Triduum March 25 – 31 2018

Procession with the Palms – Mark 11:1-10

At Mass Palm Sunday: Isaiah 50:4-7; Responsorial Psalm 22: Philippians 2:6-11; Gospel Acclamation Philippians 2:8-9; Mark 14:1- 15:47

Everyone who practiced the Roman Tradition consistently into their forties will have heard the readings for Palm Sunday and the Triduum many times. The rituals of the second week of the Passion before the reforms of Pius XII focused on the efforts and prayers of the clergy. The laity had become observers and were cut out of active participation in these liturgies of this most intensive week of Christian faith. The laity’s participation was minimized because of the Latin language and because many considered liturgy a sort of "miracle-play" for the edification of the laity. The Work of communion sacrifice and the Word of Hebrew and Christian Scriptures were the work solely of the priest. The crowd heard the scriptures read but only as an after-thought following the formal and necessary Latin "praying" by the priest. The transformation from the liturgy being the work of the priest to the work of the people led by the presider-priest took many years and much historical and theological analysis and study. The liturgies of this most holy of weeks in the Catholic tradition in our time and place encourage participation by the entire assembly under the leadership of the presider-priest.

The liturgies of the Word from Palm Sunday through Easter Vigil describe the continual call of God to his creation – that all may be one in God as the Son and Spirit are one with the Father. This week summarizes the final work of Jesus, the Son of God and Son of Man. We are encouraged to apply the mysteries of his work to our individual lives. These Scriptures begin with Mark’s description of Jesus going to Jerusalem to celebrate the Jewish High Holy Days of Passover. He had recently raised his friend Lazarus from his tomb. That miracle increased his fame and there was a crowd looking for him to come to Jerusalem for Passover. That miracle under the very walls of Jerusalem convinced the chief priests and Sadducees that they needed to eliminate Jesus or they would be in danger of losing their political, economic and social power under the occupation of the Romans.

The people hoped and believed that Jesus was the promised son of David who would return the Chosen People to political, economic, social, and academic prominence. The crowd came together to accompany Jesus into Jerusalem. After Jesus’ entry, the crowd dispersed and is not heard from again until the trial of Jesus before Pontius Pilate. At that trial the crowd became the pawn of the chief priests and Sadducees and shouted that Jesus must be crucified.

The horror and despair of Calvary is clearly stated in the gospels. We hear Jesus pray the intensely wonderful Psalm 22. That Psalm begins, "My God, My God! Why have you forsaken me?" We easily understand that Jesus prays this psalm out of desperation and near despair at his pain and impending death. However, understanding psalm 22 only from this perspective misses the depth of this psalm prayer. In seventy years of attending these liturgies, I’ve never heard a homilist preach about the whole psalm, especially its second half. Jesus certainly knew and understood the second half of that psalm. In the second half of the psalm, the cry of pain and desperation turns to a statement of faith. In that half, the psalmist affirms his faith in God’s mercy and insists he will proclaim God’s loving mercy in the assembly of people. The psalmist says: "I will proclaim your name to my brethren; in the midst of the assembly I will praise you: You who fear the Lord, praise him; all you descendants of Jacob, give glory to him; revere him, all you descendants of Israel. For he has not spurned nor disdained the wretched man in his misery, nor did he turn his face away from him but when he cried out he heard him." We can picture the psalmist with shoulders lifted and set against adversity, his jaw set firm with conviction. What a turnaround! Even in his abject misery, even in his desperation and despair this wretched man affirms his confident faith in the Lord, God. This is the time of year to pray this psalm in its totality. It provides comfort and courage to those in despair that God is the God of loving mercy.

The readings are wonderful. The stories of Holy Week all begin with the triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem as the successor to David. Jesus is presented as the fulfillment of the promise of a lasting kingship given to David. Before we come to the Church for these liturgies of Palm Sunday and Holy Week we must prepare. Our Lenten practice of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving were preparation for this week of weeks. Our immediate preparation before the liturgies is critical for our growth in endurance in faith as we face trials and threats to our faith. If we prepare to participate in the liturgies we will realize tremendous peace and joy in the weeks of Easter Season and the Sundays of Pentecost through the rest of our liturgical year that culminate in the celebration of Christ the King.

We begin our Paschal season with the entrance of Jesus as the long awaited King, the successor to the throne of David. When we think about this, we’ll realize this work of Jesus, his passion and death, is the inauguration of the Kingdom of God. The completion, the fulfillment of this Kingdom of God is celebrated on the Feast of Christ the King. That celebration is the final Sunday of our liturgical year. Jesus’ last words on the cross are, "It is finished." His work is finished; his work of setting up the Kingdom is completed. The celebration of Christ the King signals the completion of the Kingdom of God.

Our Passiontide liturgies make more sense if we understand the purpose and meaning of celebrations of the Jewish High Holy Days. Each celebration was a "remembering" of the saving work of God. Each celebration was a looking back at events in the history of God’s intervention that formed the people into the Chosen People. This is more than a recall of a past event. The remembering that is the Jewish ritual is a prayer to God to again intervene, to renew his action. It is a call to God to again release the twelve tribes from slavery to Pharaoh. It remembered God’s saving power in releasing the remnant nation from its Babylonian captivity. These prayers of remembrance are always that God come again and free his people. At the Passover Meal, the head of the household instructed the family – "it is not only our ancient ancestors who were freed from the clutches of Pharaoh; we have also been released and cross the Red Sea. It is not only our ancestors God freed from Babylon by the power of Cyrus of Persia. It is also us who have seen God’s saving power. It is not only the Maccabees by whom God freed the people from the imposition of Greek culture; we also are released from the culture of evil and death."

When we remember God’s continuing presence and work of releasing us from what keeps us from union with God, then our participation in the liturgies of Holy Week have a greater impact on our living. If we fail to take time to examine our lives to uncover what has held us captive we will not be released from our failures to keep God central in our hearts and minds; if we do not search and uncover the idols we have allowed to dominate our living then this our liturgies will only be empty mouthing of old formulas. As a result, these liturgies will be a waste of God-given opportunity to live life more fully. When ritual is a recitation of words without meaning and movement, without understood symbolism, liturgy is reduced to a religious magic show and often quickly devolves into superstition.

To prepare for Palm Sunday we examine what moves us to action. What is there that inspires us and captures our hearts and minds? How do we measure success? Do we evaluate our living with measures derived from the quality and intensity of love of God and love of neighbor? Have we minimized our faithful obedience to the gift of love God offers us, the God who wills fullness of life for all? Do we seek domination of others; do we fail to grow in love and kindness within our families? Do we embrace the culture of death that is the work of the culture of the world and refuse the culture of life that is the culture of the Christ?

The excitement of the Davidic King entering the city of our hearts must be more than pomp and circumstance. If we want a king who satisfies our every need without our commitment to live in his love we become the crowd that celebrates his coming but condemns him when the going gets rough. Our Holy Week readings help us remember, to bring to the present time the events of the institution of the Kingdom of God.

After we hear the Word of God, we proclaim our faith by reciting the Creed. We begin the Creed with the words "I believe." It’s not "We believe", but clearly "I believe." Because we are individual persons of faith in God, his Son, the Holy Spirit, and the community of the Church, we are able to participate in the Eucharistic sacrifice. When, after the consecration of the gifts we bring to the altar of sacrifice, we receive the Body and Blood of the Lord, we return to our places and remain standing as a sign of our solidarity with each member of the Body of Christ present in this assembly. Let’s not forget that the offertory is placing on the table of the Lord an offering of our work, our joys, our suffering, and our love of family, friends, and community. It includes an offering of our failings and desire to grow in wisdom, age, and grace. Our offertory process currently doesn’t portray very well that our offerings – money but also the experiences we offer, the movements of our hearts -- are placed on the altar. Our offerings provide the raw material to be consecrated into the Body and the Blood of Jesus, Son of God and Son of Man. To truly participate in the Eucharistic offering, we need to prepare our gifts before we come to the community. We need to take a few moments to consider what we wish to offer to God. If we fail to bring an offering (not merely a monetary offering, but an offering in mind and heart of our efforts, successes, and failures) we are reduced to passive observers of a "miracle play" and become an audience entertained. How meaningless and empty that would be!

The gifts given are received by the presider-priest using the prayers offered by the Jewish head of household at the Passover meal. "Blessed are you, Lord God of all creation, for through your goodness we have received the bread we offer you: fruit of the earth and work of human hands, it will become for us the bread of life." Then taking the cup of wine, the presider-priest prays over the gifts again in the words of the Passover meal; "Blessed are you, Lord God of all creation, for through your goodness we have received the wine we offer you: fruit of the vine and work of human hands, it will become our spiritual drink." When the offertory ritual is completed, the presider-priest sings/says the preface; this is the introduction to the consecration and offering of our communion sacrifice. The whole people sing out the words from Isaiah 6:3 – "Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord of Hosts…All the earth is filled with his glory." This is the song of the Seraphim Isaiah saw in his vision of the court of God. We come into the presence of God. Our gifts will be consecrated by the work of the Holy Spirit. When the presider-priest elevates the host and then the cup, it is not an offering of the Host and the Cup to God. It is the presider-priest showing the assembly the bread that is the Body of Christ and the cup that is the Blood of Christ. The actual offering of the sacrifice, our gifts consecrated by the Holy Spirit, is at the end of the great prayer. The presider-priest prays: "Through him, and with him, and in him, in the unity of the Holy Spirit all glory and honor is yours forever and ever." That is our offering to the Father. To this offering the community responds with a firm and convinced "Amen", "may it be so!"

We begin the communion ritual by praying the prayer given us by Jesus. We address God as our father – literally in Hebrew, "Dad." We pray together as one Body, gathered in the name of the Lord. The prayer for peace within the community follows. We exchange a greeting of peace to put to rest any contention within the assembly. The Mystical Body of Christ is a sign and reality of unity in the one person of Jesus. We make peace with each other so we might receive the Body and Blood of the Christ which makes us one in solidarity with the Living Christ. We literally receive the Body and Blood of the Christ consecrated by the Holy Spirit from what we brought to the altar as our offering. In effect and in truth we receive one another contained within the gifts consecrated into the Mystical Body of Christ. That is why we remain standing when we return to our places: we stand till all have received as a sign of and a reminder of the unity of all who receive the Body and Blood of the Lord.

This is the liturgy of Maundy Thursday – when we celebrate that final command of Jesus – to love one another as he, the Son of God, has loved us. Good Friday is the celebration of the self-sacrifice of our Brother and Lord as proof of his solidarity with all humanity and of God’s great love for us. Through his sacrifice we are forever connected to our Creator, our Father in everything. Even his pain and suffering and ours as well is beyond our capacity to endure, the liturgy emphasizes God’s incomprehensible love for us and supports and energizes us to continue in the power of his love.

Then there is the Vigil – we stand watch at the tomb, knowing there is more to the story of the Incarnation of the Son of God than death. We light a new fire to provide light to guide our way into the Kingdom. There is more to come in our lives as the Kingdom of God grows. We think often of the Kingdom of God as a personal reality only after we have died. But John’s Gospel makes us aware that what we endure, when delights us, what makes us aware of God’s presence among us whether through suffering or through joy, leads us to personal daily resurrections in the company of our Lord and Savior. Jesus is the Christ, the promised One, the Son of David who establishes and expands the Kingdom of God here and now. It will be complete only when God announces, "It is finished!"

"The Lord bless you and keep you! The Lord let his face shine upon you, and be gracious to you! The Lord look upon you kindly and give you peace!"

Carol & Dennis Keller






‘Keep in mind that Jesus Christ has died for us and is risen from the dead. He is our saving Lord, he is joy for all ages’ [Lucien Deiss]

We have already begun the best week in the whole liturgical year. Centuries ago it was called the ‘Great Week’. Nowadays we call it ‘Holy Week’. We walk with Jesus every step of the road to Calvary.

We have started today with his triumphant entry into Jerusalem. There we have joined the crowds acclaiming, welcoming, and applauding him as their Saviour. We have done so with boundless enthusiasm and joy.

On Thursday we will gather around his table. Once again we’ll hear and take to heart his own commandment: ‘Love one another as I have loved you’, and act it out in the Washing of the Feet. Once again we’ll receive the loving gift of himself in bread and wine. Then at the end of the meal we will set out with him along the path from the Upper Room to the Garden of Olives. There we’ll see him falling to the ground in fear and anxiety over the cruel and unjust death awaiting him. And as we see and hear him sobbing his heart out and even sweating drops of blood, our hearts will go out to him and our own eyes will fill up with tears.

Friday will find us standing with his mother and a few faithful friends at the foot of the cross. We will be moved with compassion both for her and for him in their mental and physical torments. We’ll feel some of his sense of being alone and abandoned, betrayed and deserted, not only by friends and followers, but even by God. With St Paul we will say:

I have been crucified with Christ, and it is no longer I that live, but it is Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (Galatians 2:19b-20)

On Saturday we will be quiet and silent around his tomb as we keep remembering the injustice, cruelty, hatred and hostility of all those evil men that murdered him. Then late on Saturday we will go from the darkness of the Way of the Cross to the place of the brightly burning fire. There we’ll join the procession of the great Easter Candle, that stands for the risen Christ, the Light of the World, lighting up the darkness of our church, our world, and our lives. There and then the pain and sadness of our journey with Jesus will give way to the joy and hope that comes from our rekindled faith. Jesus Christ is not dead and gone after all! No! He is very much alive, strong and powerful - alive in himself, and alive in us through the gift of his Spirit!

And so we will hear in both our heads and hearts those comforting and re-assuring words which Jesus Christ Crucified spoke to Juliana of Norwich in the quiet of her convent cell: ‘All will be well, all will be well, all manner of things will be well!’

"Brian Gleeson CP" <>





Year B: Passion Sunday (Palm Sunday)

"Hosanna in the highest heavens"

When I was a teenager, I grew up in Wimbledon – a village in South London that is famous for only one thing – every June there is a tennis tournament that attracts players and spectators from all over the world. It’s supposed to be the oldest tennis tournament in the world – I’m not absolutely sure if that’s true. But it is certainly the most prestigious.

And I remember particularly the first day I went there. It used to be that if you lived locally, you could walk up in the evenings, when most of the crowd would have gone and get in for free. And then you could walk around the outside courts and often see some of the big names playing their doubles matches. The first time I went, I went onto one of the outer courts and saw Jimmy Connors and Ilie Nastase. One of the matches had finished early and it was announced that Connors and Nastase would be coming out to play against two other players that I hadn’t heard of. There were huge cheers and suddenly loads of other people surged in from the other courts to see the game and even before the players came out, there was cheering and shouting and singing. And then the players came out and there was a huge cheer. For the occasion, just for a laugh, Connors and Nastase had come in fancy dress, dressed as lords with bowler hats and tail suits. They came out and paraded in their finery to the cheers of the crowd. And then they stripped off to their tennis whites and prepared to play.

The game was amazing. I had never been to a top-level tennis match before and the pace and the power of shots was incredible. Having got there early, I was right at the front, by the side of the court. And the ball was being hit so fast that I couldn’t even see it. I could see the movement of the players and the rackets; I could hear the sound of the ball being hit; but it was going so fast that I couldn’t actually see the ball. And Connors and Nastase were magnificent; there were a class above their opponents. They played at the height of their game. Every ball went precisely where it was supposed to go; there were trick shots and amazing pieces of skill. It was a privilege just to be there. Jimmy Connors was so cool he even kept on his bowler hat throughout. And every point was greeted with huge applause by the delighted crowd. And finally at the end, when they had won, six-love, six-love, six-love, they bowed to the crowd, put back on their lordly robes and left the court. And behind them trailed their two bedraggled, exhausted, devastated, defeated opponents, that nobody had ever heard of and had now been thrashed six-love, six-love, six-love by much better players who hadn’t even taken the game seriously.

On my way out, wondering about what I had just seen, I walked under the gates of Wimbledon Lawn Tennis club. You see, when they first built the place – a hundred and fifty-odd years ago – they knew something about victory and defeat. They knew that there are times in everybody’s life when we feel like Palm Sunday – exalted, exhilarated, the best there’s ever been – and everyone loves us.

And they knew that there are also times in everyone’s life when we feel like Good Friday – beaten, destroyed, hopeless, killed, annihilated, wiped out – and nobody loves us.

And they knew that sometimes both things can happen in the course of a single week. If you don’t believe me, just ask Andy Murray.

And so, when they built the place, they wrote over the gates a line from Rudyard Kipling’s ‘If’:

"If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster

and treat those two impostors just the same..."

It’s an important insight – because we do not always get what we expect or deserve in life. Just as in tennis, two people may play almost equally well, try equally hard, but one will meet with Triumph and the other with Disaster.

After every Palm Sunday, there comes a Good Friday. But after every Good Friday, there comes an Easter Sunday. This week, we will meet with Triumph today and Disaster on Good Friday and we will treat those two impostors just the same. Because our hope is in Easter.

Paul O'Reilly <>









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