Focus on what Palm Sunday means, not on the palm itself
As the Holy Week begins, an official of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) reminded the faithful not to overly focus on the literal aspect, or the palms, of Palm Sunday.
Fr. Jerome Secillano noted the superstitious belief of some Filipinos that having a palaspas (palm frond) blessed on Palm Sunday would bring good luck or ward off evil spirits.
In an interview, the executive secretary of the CBCP’s Permanent Committee on Public Affairs pointed out that Catholics should not believe in superstition.
“That’s only part of their superstitious belief, that if you have blessed palm branches, it will bring in luck. But we should not believe in luck, or in bad luck or misfortune,” he said.
What Catholics should focus on, he stressed, is one’s interior disposition on Palm Sunday, which is to journey with Jesus Christ towards his Passion or carrying of the Cross.
“The palm frond is not substantially needed. What is important is your internal disposition to journey with Christ as he enters Jerusalem. We must be prepared to meet our own Passion,” Secillano said.
Palm Sunday is a moveable feast that falls on the Sunday before Easter Sunday. It commemorates Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem, where he was welcomed by a crowd waving palm branches.
In the Philippines, young coconut leaves are woven into decorative shapes to mimic the palm and olive fronds used in the Bible.
Some Filipinos take home the palm fronds after the Palm Sunday Mass, in the belief that placing these on doors and windows can ward off evil spirits and lightning.
Secillano said Catholics can either buy or make their own palm fronds, or not bring anything to the Palm Sunday Mass at all.
“What is important is that you go to Mass, and your interior disposition should be apt for the meaning of the celebration,” he said.
He explained that the palm fronds are at best “symbolic of the people’s welcoming of Jesus Christ into Jerusalem.”
“What we should remember is that like those people, we should open ourselves, let Him enter our lives and let His will be done. It is no longer I who lives, but it is Christ who lives in me,” he said./rga