Sunday, March 25, 2018

Palm Sunday, Holy Week and a Celestial Challenge

To fulfill Scripture, Jesus is certain to be exact in His Actions and Words. He rides triumphantly into Jerusalem on a young donkey depicting peace and given the honor rightfully due Him.
Palm Sunday (first known as Pasha) originated in the Jerusalem Church around the late third or early fourth century. Ceremonies consisted of prayers, hymns, and sermons as people moved through the numerous holy sites within the city. At the last site, the place of Jesus' ascension into heaven, the clergy would read the biblical account of Jesus' Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem. Then as evening approached, the people would return to the city reciting: “Blessed is He that comes in the name of the Lord (Matthew 21:9). By the fifth century, the celebration had spread as far as Constantinople. It wasn't until the sixth and seventh centuries that the ritual blessing of the palms was added. A morning procession replaced the evening one and by the eighth century, the Western Church was celebrating "Dominica in Palmis" or "Palm Sunday."

The Tradition
Palm Sunday is also known as Passion Sunday in recognition of the beginning of Holy Week and Jesus' final agonizing journey to His crucifixion. Falling on the sixth Sunday in Lent and the Sunday before Easter, Palm Sunday is celebrated in all major Christian churches Roman Catholic, Protestant, and Orthodox. In many Orthodox churches, Palm Sunday is known as Entry into Jerusalem. In some countries, the graves of loved ones are decorated with palms. Since palm trees are not indigenous to colder climates, branches of sallow, willow, and yew are often used.

Today, many Palm Sunday traditions remain much the same as those celebrated in the tenth century. Some ceremonies begin with the blessing of the palms. Afterward, many people take the palms home and place them in houses, barns, and fields. In many churches, children serve as an integral part of the service since they enjoy the processions. Children often craft crosses from palm leaves which were used in the Sunday processional. The traditions of Palm Sunday serve as reminders of the life-changing events of Holy Week.

It was traditional in the Near East to place a cover across the path of someone deemed worthy of highest honor. The palm branch was a Jewish symbol of triumph and victory (Leviticus 23:40; Revelation 7:9). In 2 Kings 9:13, Jehu, son of Jehoshaphat, received the customary announcing of a king with the spreading of cloaks upon the ground. Jesus, the Messianic King, was given a similar honor. "Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!" ~Matthew 21:8

The Remembrance
In the simplest of terms, Palm Sunday is an opportunity to reflect upon the final week of Jesus' life. Jesus did not deny the image that the crowd expected -- the fulfillment of the hopes of Israel that He would be their earthly king, destroying the Roman government. Instead, Jesus humbly entered Jerusalem to give His life on a cross, saving mankind from sin and death. One day, Jesus will return gloriously as a mighty warrior in battle (Revelation 19:11-16). Palm Sunday serves as a preparation of one's heart for the agony of His Passion and the joy of His Resurrection.
As they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage on the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, "Go to the village ahead of you, and at once you will find a donkey tied there, with her colt by her. Untie them and bring them to me. If anyone says anything to you, tell him that the Lord needs them, and he will send them right away." ~Matthew 21:1-11

This took place to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet: "Say to the Daughter of Zion, 'See, your king comes to you, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.'"

The disciples went and did as Jesus had instructed them. They brought the donkey and the colt, placed their cloaks on them, and Jesus sat on them. A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, while others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. The crowds that went ahead of him and those that followed shouted,

"Hosanna to the Son of David!"
"Blessed is He Who comes in the Name of the Lord!"
"Hosanna in the highest!"
 

As we head on into Passion Week, what's on our minds? Perhaps the dinner next week for friends and relatives celebrating Easter? Shopping for the Easter Basket fillers and treats for the children? Wondering how we're ever going to fit going to Church 3-4 times in one week into our busy lives?

Perhaps your Lent didn't go as well as you hoped for. But how merciful is our God Who accepts even our meager efforts as triumphant if we have a contrite heart! (And in living in the Divine Will, your acts are done by Jesus Himself, making them perfect and holy, according to your disposition.) I invite you to step out of your comfort zone this week and into the sea of sorrows with Jesus as we remember His unfathomable Sacrifice for each of us. Our human minds can't begin to comprehend what He did or how He suffered for each and every one of us or that He'd have done it all again even if it was just for ONE SOUL! We make the mistake, so often, of trying to figure out God and His Ways with hour pitiful human intellect, forgetting that an insect will never be able to learn quantum physics!

I have been studying the Book of Heaven/Living in the Divine Will ... Luisa Piccarreta. I'm up to volume 20 now (16 more to go plus 4 other works). I can't say how much more my Faith has been strengthened by these volumes. The insights into things I've always wondered about oftentimes have been answered with such clarity that there have been numerous "ah hah" moments that have grounded me even more firmly. I must say that there are many things that somehow, I understand inside me, but cannot verbalize. Very peculiar. I will just add a little info here about the Church and her writings before I offer the challenge.
The Archbishop promoting Luisa's Cause for beautification, is doing so in strict accord with Canon Law and in complete harmony with Rome. This includes a careful and comprehensive review of Luisa's writings by competent, independent experts in theology.
Catholics should know once and for all that published opinions of critics are just that - opinions. They are not binding upon the consciences of Catholics. They do not represent the authority of the Catholic Church. We are free to disagree with them. In short, this is a matter that is open for discussion in the Catholic Church. And so, If anyone claims or implies that the Catholic Church condemns Luisa Piccarreta or any of her writings, he is either intentionally or unintentionally a purveyor of falsehood.
More info on this can be found here: http://luisapiccarreta.co/?page_id=240

OK, here is the challenge.

Before I actually began the study, I had made a practice of doing the Hours of the Passion; one of Luisa's other works. I've done it for several years now but the first time I did it, I was amazed how it brought me RIGHT THERE with Him! You cannot seriously make this effort without a PROFOUND and LASTING effect to your soul and being.
I CHALLENGE EVERYONE TO DO THIS MEDITATION ESPECIALLY ON GOOD FRIDAY.

Traditionally, this is done with a group of people, each taking an hour and it goes from Thursday 5pm till 5 pm Good Friday with beginning and ending prayers for each hour. But you can also do it alone as your state in life permits. You don't have to stay up for 24 hrs ... though, it's amazing when you DO.

Some Communities like to initiate a "Living Clock" to compassionate Jesus and delve deeper into His Passion sharing the hours among the participants.

General Guidelines for the "Living Clock":

It is very simple. Whoever has a group of people and wishes to create a Living Clock will:
1. Assign one Hour (one Chapter of the book) to each person.
2. Establish how often the group will rotate to the next Hour, which could be:
* daily
* weekly
* biweekly
* or monthly
Then, after a certain agreed period, the Hour that each person is doing moves ahead to the next Hour. For example, whoever was doing the Hour from 5 to 6 P.M. (Jesus says good-bye to His Mother moves ahead to do the following Hour, from 6 to 7 P.M. (Jesus separates from His Mother).
When the Living Clock has reached up to 24 people that are seriously committed to meditating one Hour of The Passion each day, the Living Clock is set and working, for the glory of Our Lord Jesus Christ.
A Living Clock can get started with a few people but it cannot have more than 24 people.

Here are the Hours with the additional before and after prayers. May you be inundated with Christ's Love and Mercy drawing nearer and nearer to the Sacred and Immaculate Hearts!
https://www.theworkofgod.org/Devotns/Stations/meditations-passion-Christ.htm

Other Links for more on Living in the Divine Will:
http://www.passioiesus.org/en/index.php
https://divinewilluk.com/what-are-the-hours-of-the-passion

Here are a few excerpts from Lusia's writings regarding Jesus' Thoughts on His Holy and Perfect Passion and those who meditate on His Sufferings during His last 24 hours.


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