Next weekend, many churches including St. Thomas, will provide palms to be carried in the opening moments of the liturgy, as we gratefully recall Jesus’ entry into the holy city of Jerusalem. The children who greeted him on that day used what was both handy and traditional, since palms were carried to inaugurate the joyful harvest feast of Succoth.
To this day, faithful Jews are directed to take a beautiful palm branch, green and straight as possible, called a lulav, and bind it with three myrtle branches fifteen inches long, and two longer willow branches. At the end of the temple service, everyone carries the lulav, circling the sanctuary in a dance called the Hoshanot, singing hymns of joy.
In other climates, Jews and Christians alike have had to make accommodations over the years. In Italy, everyone carries olive branches often brought from their own garden. In England, Forsythia branches are preferred, a relative of the olive, the sign of peace. Germans prefer Pussy-willows, and others look for flowering spring branches.
Join us next Saturday at 4 pm. Mass, and on Sunday at 10 a.m. Mass, for the blessing and distribution of the palms with a special procession at the Sunday Mass.