March 26, 2024 // Bishop

Palm Sunday Enters Us into Holy Week

Bishop Rhoades began the most sacred week of the liturgical year on Sunday, March 24, at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Fort Wayne as he celebrated Mass on Palm Sunday – an event, he said, that initiates a sacred journey through Holy Week and is a time of profound reflection and spiritual renewal within the Catholic faith. As we embark on this pilgrimage of faith, Bishop Rhoades told those in attendance, we are called to immerse ourselves in the rich tapestry of liturgical traditions that unveil the mysteries of Christ’s passion, death, and resurrection.

Photos by Joe Romie
A basket of palm fronds awaits worshippers before Mass on Sunday, March 24, Palm Sunday, at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Fort Wayne.

Central to Palm Sunday is the commemoration of Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem, a moment of profound significance in the Christian narrative. In his homily, Bishop Rhoades articulated the deliberate and symbolic nature of Jesus’ actions as He meticulously fulfills the prophecy of Zechariah to reveal His identity as the long-awaited Messiah-King.

“Today we commemorate Jesus’ triumphal entrance into the holy city of Jerusalem,” Bishop Rhoades preached. “Jesus went up to Jerusalem with His disciples, like so many other pilgrims, to celebrate the Passover. Notice how intentional Jesus was: He gave two of the disciples very precise instructions to go into the nearby village to find a colt, to untie it, and to bring it to Him. Why is this noteworthy? Because Jesus had a purpose. He was intent on entering the holy city on a donkey because He was fulfilling the prophecy from the Book of the Prophet Zechariah that one day the Messiah-King would enter Jerusalem riding on a donkey.”

Joe Romie
Bishop Rhoades blesses attendees with holy water at the beginning of Palm Sunday Mass on Sunday, March 24, in Fort Wayne.

Bishop Rhoades noted that through His humble arrival on a donkey, Jesus challenges conventional expectations of kingship. Unlike earthly rulers who assert dominance through force, Jesus demonstrates a kingship rooted in meekness and service. He enters not to conquer but to redeem – a theme echoed throughout His passion, as depicted in the Gospel accounts.

In his portrayal of Jesus’ agony in the Garden of Gethsemane, Bishop Rhoades invited the congregation to contemplate the depth of Christ’s suffering. Jesus, grappling with the weight of humanity’s sin, surrendered Himself entirely to the will of the Father. Through His obedient acceptance of the cross, Jesus initiated a profound reversal – namely, the restoration of humanity’s relationship with God.

Worshippers use a missalette to follow along with the liturgy during Palm Sunday Mass at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception. – Joe Romie

The pinnacle of Jesus’ sacrifice is witnessed on the cross, where He utters the poignant words of Psalm 22: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” In this moment of apparent abandonment, Jesus bore the full extent of human alienation from God, offering Himself as the ultimate sacrifice for our redemption. It is through His selfless act of love that the barrier between God and humanity was shattered, paving the way for reconciliation and salvation.

The centurion’s proclamation – “Truly this man was the Son of God!” – epitomizes the transformative power of Jesus’ sacrifice, and His resurrection on Easter Sunday signifies the ultimate triumph of love over death, inviting us to share in His victory. Through our participation in the liturgies of Holy Week, we are called to enter into the mystery of Christ’s passion, death, and resurrection, embracing the immense love of our Redeemer.

Joshua Schipper
Bishop Rhoades blesses palm branches outside of the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Fort Wayne at the beginning of Palm Sunday Mass on March 24.

Beyond Palm Sunday, the liturgical journey unfolds through a series of poignant ceremonies known as the Paschal Triduum. From the solemnity of Holy Thursday, commemorating the Last Supper and the institution of the Eucharist, to the somber reflections of Good Friday, where the crucifixion of Christ is solemnly observed, each liturgy invites believers into a deeper participation in the salvific events of salvation history.

Throughout Holy Week, the faithful are encouraged to actively engage in prayer, reflection, and participation in the sacred liturgies. By immersing ourselves in the Paschal Mystery, we are afforded a profound opportunity for spiritual renewal and transformation, as we journey with Christ from the agony of the cross to the triumph of His resurrection.

During the Liturgy of the Word, many worshippers at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception crafted traditional palm crosses.

“Dear brothers and sisters, I encourage you to make this Holy Week truly ‘holy’ by entering into the mystery of Christ’s passion, death, and resurrection through prayer and participation in the beautiful liturgies of Holy Week, especially the sacred Paschal Triduum. May we all experience more deeply this week the immense love of Christ our Redeemer! With Mary, our Mother, may we be united with Jesus in His passion, so that next Sunday, we may experience more deeply the joy of His resurrection,” Bishop Rhoades concluded.

Deacon Caleb Kruse, right, proclaims the Gospel prior to processing into the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception for Mass on Palm Sunday.
Below, the faithful process into the cathedral carrying the blessed palms.

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