Tag Archives: procession

The Commemoration of the Lord’s Entrance into Jerusalem

The Lord’s Entry into Jerusalem. A fresco from Bulgaria.

On Palm Sunday of the Passion of the Lord, the church gathers throughout the whole world to recall the entrance of the Lord into Jerusalem to proclaim Hosanna to the Son Of David! After we hear the proclamation of the Gospel of the Lord’s entrance from the Gospel of Matthew [Mt. 21], we unite our voices with jubilant voices of the children of the Hebrews who spread garments on the road.

As we wave our branches in the air and proclaim Jesus is Lord, we recognize that we are called to, in the words of St. Andrew of Crete, “spread before his feet, not garments or soulless olive branches, which delight the eye for a few hours and then wither, but ourselves, clothed in his grace, or rather, clothed completely in him. We who have been baptized into Christ must ourselves be the garments that we spread before him. Now that the crimson stains of our sins have been washed away in the saving waters of baptism and we have become white as pure wool, let us present the conqueror of death, not with mere branches of palms but with the real rewards of his victory. Let our souls take the place of the welcoming branches as we join today in the children’s holy song: Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. Blessed is the king of Israel.”

This Sunday marks in the words of the exhortation of the Liturgy, we have since Ash Wednesday prepared our hearts for a fruitful celebration of the paschal mystery, this:

Therefore, with all faith and devotion,
let us commemorate
the Lord’s entry into the city for our salvation,
following his footsteps,
so that, being made by his grace partakers of the Cross,
we may also have a share also in his Resurrection and in his life.

Our simple and bold procession affirms the unity of faith in that we learn from the diary of Egeria, a nun and a pilgrim of the late 4th century, that “Christians in Jerusalem used to gather in the early afternoon on the Mount of Olives for a lengthy liturgy of the word. Then, toward evening, they would go in procession into Jerusalem, carrying palm branches or olive branches.” As for the hymn we sing, Bishop Theodulph of Orleans (d. 821) composed Gloria Laus et Honor, which we sing in translation today, “All Glory, Laud and Honor,” which has this beautiful verse, “To Thee, before Thy passion, They sang their hymns of praise; To Thee, now high exalted, Our melody we raise.”

The hymn commemorates joy, and we have the jubilant incensation of the altar; but the tone quickly changes from jubilation to sober reality: the Messiah must suffer and die. We go straightaway into the first reading from Isaiah, one of the Songs of the Suffering Servant, “I gave my back to those who beat me.” [Isaiah 50:4-7] The suffering servant songs can be the core of our Holy Week meditation: Palm Sunday: Isaiah 50:4-7, Monday: Isaiah 42:1-7, Tuesday: Isaiah 49:1-6, Wednesday: Isaiah 50:4-9, culminating with the final Servant Song on Good Friday, Isaiah 52:13-53:12. The ancient prophecies set forth that the Messiah must suffer and die, a Messiah who in words of the second reading from Philippians, “humbled himself, becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” Christus Factus est, as the cantor chants before the proclamation of the Passion, a proclamation with neither candles nor incense, only setting forth that our salvation has been purchased with the costly shedding of the blood of Christ. When Jesus cries out in a loud voice and hands over his spirit we kneel to humble ourselves before so great a mystery.

As we leave we take palms home. James Monti in his book, “The Week of Salvation,” says the palms are “a tangible reminder of the mysteries they [the people] have commemorated in union with the whole Church on this day. Throughout the upcoming week these palms will serve to direct their hearts and minds to the unfolding of the Paschal Mystery, from the Last Supper to the cross and onward to the empty tomb of Easter morning.”

The palms you carried today are now sacramentals. You may wish to place them behind a crucifix on the wall, or weave them into a small cross. As you see them this holy week, remember that we must follow our Lord’s footsteps. Let us pray in the words of the prayer after Communion today, “so by his Resurrection you may lead us to where you call.”

Holy Week is rich in music as well. At this link is a collection of videos of music for Holy Week.

From Crescent to Cross

This morning my tour guide began to explore Aksum with me as a great riddle to be solved or a mystery of lore to lead to truth. Was Aksum home of the Queen of Sheba? Could Aksum be the final resting place of the Ark of the Covenant? So much is yet to be excavated. Will further excavation yield hidden treasures?

The exploration began at the northern stelae field. A stela is a monolithic monumental tombstone. The number of registers indicate the number of horizontal burial chambers. Notice the half moon, the crescent and under it a circular metal plate was placed facing the east. The sun and moon were gods worshiped at Aksum before the arrival of Christianity.

 

 

 

 

Notice the wild ibex motif.

In 340 Emperor Ezana  invited missionaries from Byzantium to preach the Gospel so the symbol changed from crescent moon to cross.

Underground burial chambers

 

The stelae field

Ethiopia-Axum-6 Ethiopia-Axum-5This can be called the Ethiopian Rosetta stone. This was discovered in 1980 when a farmer was plowing his field. It is a monolithic recording of the extent of his kingdom in three languages: Sabean (5-2 century BC), Geez (a language only used in the liturgy), and Greek.

 

 

 

Ethiopia-Axum-7 We continued to the palace to the tombs of Kings Kaleb and his son Gebre Meskel. As we approached you have a great view of Adwa where the battle was fought by Menelik against italian aggression.

A view of the way the dressed stone is set.

In Gebre Meskel there are crosses craved into the stone

 

And an elephant too!

And an elephant too!

Notice the beautiful stone.

Now for a personal experience. Two days ago after lunch when I stepped out of the car a man who was deaf requested alms. I did not have my wallet so I could not give alms. The next day his face haunted me and I prayed the Lord would send another person with a disability to me in Aksum requesting alms. The deaf man’s face and the door of the Promise of Mercy were haunting me. Today as I was ready to get in the car a little boy brought me a man who was blind and requested alms. Thank you Lord for sending him to me so I could offer a token of mercy and compassion.

 

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(The bath is not at the palace).

Is this the bath of the Queen of Sheba? Most likely not since it is only 1000 years old.

 

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We went to the Dungar Palace that some allege is the palace of the Queen of Sheba. However it dates to the 6th century AD. The most intriguing is that they have excavated and there is a large palace complex from 1000 BC. What is your judgement?

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Ethiopia-Axum-15Then on to the center of the Ethiopian religious world whose compound houses a church they claim houses the Ark of the Covenant. And it was the site of the first church built after Ezana’s conversion. We first visited the oldest church in Aksum built in 1665. I sat there and watched a procession that occurs after mass. They process three times around the church imploring the mercy of God. A deacon gave me a personal tour of the church. It contains beautiful icons and wall paintings. And next to the chapel housing the ark are the ruins of the first church built by emperor Ezana. In front of the church is the circular stone where the emperor was crowned before he was lead into the church. The last emperor to be crowned there was Haile Selassie.

 

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Ethiopia-Axum-18 Ethiopia-Axum-19This church is restricted to men because behind it is a hermitage of monks who are cloistered. They vote who will be the monk to approach the Ark of the Covenant housed in a shrine to the north of the church. It is a life long position. Each day he enters and prays while offering incense.

This is the photo of the shrine.

Then the procession moves to the modern church so the women can join the litany imploring the mercy of God. I sat there mesmerized by the beauty in an attitude of thanksgiving that the Lord answered my prayer and sent a blind man to me requesting alms.

As the afternoon moved on I lingered and was caught up in the fact I was really at the heart of Ethiopian orthodoxy. I looked and saw this man caught up in prayer as he moved his fingers over his rosary.

Ethiopia-Axum-25I went back into the courtyard in front of the church and there you the king was crowned before entry into the church.

And then saw this monk approaching the presence of God in order to pray. When I saw the monk walking to the church I knew I was at the heart and center of the Christian life: prayer. “Pray without ceasing.” [1 Thessalonians 5:17].

Camino Day 18, Astorga, Part 2

Day 18. Friday, September 12, 2014, part 2. Astorga. We had chosen to eat an early dinner on the main plaza of Astorga and shortly noticed that something was happening. It began with people arriving with band instruments. More and more people gathered in the plaza and then we heard piping and saw groups bringing enormous flags on tall (maybe 30 foot) poles. For over an hour group after group raised their flags but the real focus was on the flag bearer who performed stunts… raising the flag with one arm, or dancing while balancing the flag.

We also saw a gathering of clergy in capes and birettas, and people carrying processional crosses. This came together as a procession with a statue of Mary, Our Lady of Remedios, to a now lighted cathedral.

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Hundreds were in the procession, outpouring their excitement and devotion. As we entered the cathedral the organ was pealing, camera flashes ignited and the cathedral was fully illuminated. We felt privileged to be part of this local fiesta. Sadly the albergue was locking doors and we had to leave but we could still hear people celebrating into the night.
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The Commemoration of the Lord’s Entrance into Jerusalem

On Palm Sunday of the Passion of the Lord, the church gathers throughout the whole world to recall the entrance of the Lord into Jerusalem to proclaim Hosanna to the Son Of David! After we hear the proclamation of the Gospel of the Lord’s entrance from the Gospel of Matthew [Mt. 21], we unite our voices with jubilant voices of the children of the Hebrews who spread garments on the road.

As we wave our branches in the air and proclaim Jesus is Lord, we recognize that we are called to, in the words of St. Andrew of Crete, “spread before his feet, not garments or soulless olive branches, which delight the eye for a few hours and then wither, but ourselves, clothed in his grace, or rather, clothed completely in him. We who have been baptized into Christ must ourselves be the garments that we spread before him. Now that the crimson stains of our sins have been washed away in the saving waters of baptism and we have become white as pure wool, let us present the conqueror of death, not with mere branches of palms but with the real rewards of his victory. Let our souls take the place of the welcoming branches as we join today in the children’s holy song: Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. Blessed is the king of Israel.”

This Sunday marks in the words of the exhortation of the Liturgy, we have since Ash Wednesday prepared our hearts for a fruitful celebration of the paschal mystery, this:

Therefore, with all faith and devotion,
let us commemorate
the Lord’s entry into the city for our salvation,
following his footsteps,
so that, being made by his grace partakers of the Cross,
we may also have a share also in his Resurrection and in his life.

Our simple and bold procession affirms the unity of faith in that we learn from the diary of Egeria, a nun and a pilgrim of the late 4th century, that “Christians in Jerusalem used to gather in the early afternoon on the Mount of Olives for a lengthy liturgy of the word. Then, toward evening, they would go in procession into Jerusalem, carrying palm branches or olive branches.” As for the hymn we sing, Bishop Theodulph of Orleans (d. 821) composed Gloria Laus et Honor, which we sing in translation today, “All Glory, Laud and Honor,” which has this beautiful verse, “To Thee, before Thy passion, They sang their hymns of praise; To Thee, now high exalted, Our melody we raise.”

The hymn commemorates joy, and we have the jubilant incensation of the altar; but the tone quickly changes from jubilation to sober reality: the Messiah must suffer and die. We go straightaway into the first reading from Isaiah, one of the Songs of the Suffering Servant, “I gave my back to those who beat me.” [Isaiah 50:4-7] The suffering servant songs can be the core of our Holy Week meditation: Palm Sunday: Isaiah 50:4-7, Monday: Isaiah 42:1-7, Tuesday: Isaiah 49:1-6, Wednesday: Isaiah 50:4-9, culminating with the final Servant Song on Good Friday, Isaiah 52:13-53:12. The ancient prophecies set forth that the Messiah must suffer and die, a Messiah who in words of the second reading from Philippians, “humbled himself, becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” Christus Factus est, as the cantor chants before the proclamation of the Passion, a proclamation with neither candles nor incense, only setting forth that our salvation has been purchased with the costly shedding of the blood of Christ. When Jesus cries out in a loud voice and hands over his spirit we kneel to humble ourselves before so great a mystery.

As we leave we take palms home. James Monti in his book, “The Week of Salvation,” says the palms are “a tangible reminder of the mysteries they [the people] have commemorated in union with the whole Church on this day. Throughout the upcoming week these palms will serve to direct their hearts and minds to the unfolding of the Paschal Mystery, from the Last Supper to the cross and onward to the empty tomb of Easter morning.”

The palms you carried today are now sacramentals. You may wish to place them behind a crucifix on the wall, or weave them into a small cross. As you see them this holy week, remember that we must follow our Lord’s footsteps. Let us pray in the words of the prayer after Communion today, “so by his Resurrection you may lead us to where you call.”