March 23, 2016 // Uncategorized

Palm Sunday demonstrates Mercy

By Stephanie A. Patka

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Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades sprinkles holy water on the palm branches as he walks through the faithful in attendance for the Palm Sunday liturgy.

Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades presided over Palm Sunday Mass at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception on March 20. The entire Cathedral was packed with the Catholic faithful including nearly 200 high school students who attended the Ignited Retreat.

Mass began outside with a reading of the Gospel by Deacon Bob Garrow, who will be professing his vows as a priest this May. The faithful held their palm branches high as Bishop Rhoades walked through the crowd to bless them. The procession walked the city block around the south end of the Cathedral and into the church. The line was so long that by the time those in the front made it through the Holy Doors, others were just beginning their journey.

The theme of the Jubilee Year of Mercy was visible throughout the Mass and in Bishop Rhoades’ homily. He began, “I don’t think we see that mercy any more clearly than in the face of Jesus covered in blood, with the crown of thorns on His head, and eyes filled with pain, the pain of His love, His love for His friends who had abandoned Him, His love for Peter who denied even knowing Him, His love for his mother who was there in unspeakable sorrow, His love even for His enemies, those who scourged Him and jeered at Him and insulted Him. The face of mercy. The face of God.”

The celebration of Palm Sunday begins the celebration of our Lord’s Paschal Mystery, the mystery of His passion, death, and resurrection which is the high point of the whole liturgical year. Bishop stated, “The Paschal Mystery is the culmination of Jesus’ mission, the culmination of His revelation of God’s mercy.”

Bishop Rhoades reflected in his homily, “I don’t think there are any more powerful words of mercy and forgiveness in history than the words Jesus said in prayer while hanging on the cross in excruciating pain: ‘Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.’  We should remember those words when we are hurt and offended by others and try to practice the spiritual works of mercy of forgiving offenses and bearing wrongs patiently.  Maybe it will be a little easier to forgive others if we think about Jesus’ words of forgiveness of his enemies while suffering their insults and tortures.”

Bishop Rhoades extended an invitation to the faithful, “My brothers and sisters, as we begin Holy Week, let us enter deeply into the drama of the Paschal Mystery, the most radical revelation of God’s mercy, the revelation that God’s love is more powerful than sin and death.  Let us imitate the humility of the good thief by recognizing our sins and ask Jesus to lead us also into His kingdom. May our hearts be moved as we meditate on the Lord’s Passion. I encourage everyone to attend Mass on Holy Thursday, the service on Good Friday, and the Masses of the Easter Vigil or Easter Sunday.  Let us make this week truly holy by our more fervent prayers and penance.”

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