Palm Sunday: Pope says to be ‘astonished and amazed’ by Christ’s love during first mass of Holy Week


VATICAN CITY (WJW/AP) — During his Palm Sunday address, Pope Francis encouraged followers to discover and accept love as the world enters another pandemic-era Holy Week.

In Christian tradition, Palm Sunday, or Passion Sunday, is the first day of Holy Week.

Palm Sunday, which falls exactly one week before Easter, commemorates Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem.

Often times, churches will hold blessings and processions of palms on the holiday.

Here’s a look at this year’s Palm Sunday mass at the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist in Cleveland:

During his Palm Sunday liturgy, Pope Francis reminded Catholics worldwide to be “astonished and amazed” by Christ’s love.

“Let us be amazed by Jesus so that we can start living again,” the Pope said, according to the Vatican News.

“The grandeur of life lies not in possessions and promotions, but in realizing that we are loved. This is the grandeur of life: discovering that we are loved. And the grandeur of life lies precisely in the beauty of love,” he continued.

He also told churchgoers we must “go be beyond admiring Jesus” and “follow in his footsteps, to let ourselves be challenged by him; to pass from admiration to amazement.”

Pope Francis led Palm Sunday mass inside Saint Peter’s Basilica. There was a limited congregation due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Traditionally, the pope leads a Palm Sunday procession through St. Peter’s Square in front of tens of thousands of pilgrims and tourists clutching olive branches and braided palms before celebrating an outdoor Mass.

“For the second time we are living it (Holy Week) in the context of the pandemic,” Pope Francis said, with around 120 faithful, including nuns and a few families or couples, sitting far apart in the pews. ”Last year, we were more shocked. This year it is more trying for us. And the economic crisis has become heavy.”

Amid the suffering of the pandemic, Pope Francis said, “we meet the faces of so many brothers and sisters in difficulty.”

“Let us not pass by, let us allow our hearts to be moved with compassion, and let us draw near,” Francis said. He had dedicated much of his papacy to drawing attention to those living on society’s margins, including the homeless, the poor and migrants.

Francis ended his remarks by inviting prayers for victims of a suicide bombing outside a crowded Roman Catholic cathedral during Palm Sunday services in Indonesia, which wounded at least 14 people, police in the Asian nation said.

Except for a Way of the Cross procession in St. Peter’s Square to mark Good Friday, all the Holy Week services at the Vatican this year will be held inside the basilica, including Easter Mass at the culmination of Holy Week. Rank-and-file faithful will be barred from attending the Good Friday night service, a torch-lit ritual which usually takes place at the Colosseum in Rome.

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