Throughout the world, in parishes of all sizes, Catholics will be given small pieces of palm which they will fashion into the form of a cross and wear on a lapel or dress, reminding them of the triumphal visit of Christ on that first Palm Sunday. Sermons from the pulpit on this day will have many different lessons driven home - that some of the people who shouted "Hosanna" on that first Palm Sunday, were part of the same crowd of people heard to say, "Crucify Christ" on that first Good Friday. Preachers will tell about the fickleness of people who would praise him to the heavens on one Sunday and then just a few days later would be asking for his death.
Palm Sunday has a lot of meanings for all of us, but for those who cannot attend Church or leave their homes, hospitals or nursing homes, it is a special week and should be made sacred by the personal religious practices that we perform, whether we are near a Church or not.
If there is anything that a person who is sick should get out of this week it is that you never suffer alone. Christ has been where you are. If you go back to that first Holy Week, you will find that Christ went through an agony, a scourging, a crowning, a crucifixion. Every pain, every ache, every illness that mankind knows about was experienced in that first week. That first Holy Week was Christ's way of linking his pain, his suffering with yours. This Holy Week is your opportunity to link your pain with his. Through Christ, with Christ, and in Christ that spirit of resignation and acceptance can be achieved. It certainly will not remove your cross, but it will make it more bearable. Linking your suffering with that of Christ is one way of making this special week a most sacred one for you.
The second way of making this week most sacred for you is simply to remind yourself that if suffering was the lot of God's only son, that if it was experienced by Christ, by his blessed Mother and by all the apostles, then suffering is going to be part of everyone's life who wants to be a follower of Christ. It did not pass by them. It will not pass by you.
When talking about Holy Week there is no sense saying that it does not mean as much as it used to. It can mean that much again, but it depends on you. Two thousand years ago the apostles missed many of the lessons of Holy Week. They were too preoccupied with the things that were happening at the time to appreciate the importance of the week itself. Today we are similar apostles, preoccupied with many things. We cannot afford to miss the meaning of this week. It should be made personally holy by all of us. This week reminds us of the rewards of suffering with Christ. We should keep in mind at this time that if we experience the passion of Christ and if we link our suffering with his, we will gain the reward of everlasting happiness with God in the place called Heaven.
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