PALM SUNDAY – OUR LORD’S TRIUMPHANT ENTRY INTO JERUSALEM
Shortly after Lazarus was raised from the dead, Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ together with His Apostles are the guests of honor at a banquet served by Martha and Mary. Afterwards they proceed to Jerusalem. News of the great miracle of Jesus bringing Lazarus back to life had reached the city before Him. Great multitudes of crowds gathered to receive the Lord triumphantly. The cries of the people, “Hosanna in the Highest!” were heard throughout the city. There is a proclamation of welcoming their new king. Unfortunately, the temperament of the people will swiftly change within a few days from welcome to “Crucify Him, Crucify Him!”
On this Feast day, and according to our tradition, both pussy willows and palms are blessed and usually distributed as the sign of our Lord’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem. This year we shall bless these signs of victory but they will not be distributed because of the coronavirus. Our Holy Synod of Bishops has made this proclamation: “These blessed symbols of our Lord’s triumphant Entrance into Jerusalem should be retained by you in Church to be distributed on that first Sunday, when we are all gathered together, once again, in our parish churches to worship together – regardless of the time of year it comes. This late distribution THEN BECOMES A SYMBOL OF OUR OWN TRIUMPHANT ENTRANCE - OUR RETURN INTO OUR BELOVED PARISH TEMPLES FOLLOWING SAFE PASSAGE THROUGH THE PANDEMIC THREAT TO OUR LIVES. The distribution of the branches to the faithful should be done as they enter church on that Sunday and before the Divine Liturgy begins, the entire congregation, led by you dear Rev. Fathers, shall join together, holding the branches high above their heads, in the singing of the Palm/Willow Sunday Tropar (Tone 1) “Giving us before Your Passion an assurance of the general resurrection…”, - followed by the Paschal Tropar: CHRIST IS RISEN!
The hymns of Vespers and Matins help us to understand the meaning of the Feast:
“Today the Word and coeternal Son of God the Father * whose throne is the heavens and whose footstool is the earth * humbles Himself and comes to Bethany * seated on a dumb beast, on a foal. * Then the children of the Hebrews, holding branches in their hands, praise Him saying: * Hosanna in the highest * blessed is He who comes, the King of Israel.”
“Let us also come today all the new Israel, the Church of the Gentiles * and let us cry with the Prophet Zechariah * Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion * shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem * for behold your King comes to you. * He is meek and brings salvation * and He rides upon the colt of an ass, the foal of a beast of burden. * Keep the feast with the children * and holding branches in your hands sing his praises * Hosanna to the highest * blessed is He who comes, the King of Israel.
Prefiguring for us Your holy Resurrection, O loving Lord * by Your command You have raised up from death Your friend Lazarus * who was without the breath of life * and after four days in the tomb he began to decay. * then, O Savior, mounted on a foal, and as though riding in a chariot * You have given a sign to the Gentiles. * Israel, your beloved, also offers you praise out of the mouth of innocent babes and sucklings * as they behold You, O Christ, entering the holy City six days before the Passover.
Six days before the Passover, Jesus entered Bethany * and His disciples came to Him saying: * Lord, where do You wish us to prepare the Passover supper for You? * Then He sent them out saying * Go into the city and you will come upon a man carrying a water jar * follow him and say to the owner * The Teacher says I am to celebrate the Passover with My disciples in your house.
When You entered the Holy City, O Lord * as You hastened to Your Passion to fulfill the Law and the Prophets * the Hebrew children prefigured Your victorious Resurrection * they went before You with palms and branches, saying: * Blessed are You, O Savior, have mercy on us.
All Services at Sts. Peter and Paul will be live streamed. Our Schedule for Holy Week is the following:
Palm Sunday Divine Liturgy 9:30 AM
Holy Monday, April 13
7:00 AM Bridegroom Matins; 6:00 PM – Presanctified Litrugy
Holy Tuesday, April 14
7:00 AM Bridegroom Matins; 6:00 PM – Presanctified Litrugy
Holy Wednesday, April 15
7:00 AM Bridegroom Matins; 6:00 PM Presanctified Litrugy
Holy Thursday, April 16 – Commemoration of the Last Supper
8:00 AM – Matins; 8:30 AM Vesperal Liturgy; 6:00 PM – Twelve Gospels
Holy and Great Friday, April 17
8:00 AM – Royal Hours 7:00 PM – Great Vespers with Procession with the Shroud
We will continue to stream one hour after the Service to give time to visit the Tomb
Holy and Great Saturday, April 18
9:00 AM – Jerusalem Matins 4:00 PM – Vesperal Liturgy
Sunday, April 19 – The Resurrection of Our Lord
6:00 AM – Resurrection Matins 7:00 AM Divine Liturgy for the Faithful
8:30 AM – Blessing of the Paskhal Baskets 5:00 pm – Agape Vespers
FROM OUR HOLY SYNOD OF BISHOPS - BLESSING OF PASCHAL BASKETS: This tradition is one of the most treasured by all our faithful celebrating the FEAST OF FEASTS. We have struggled mightily to come up with a means of conducting this tradition. There are, however, just two possible methods, during this difficult time, to conduct this blessing – primarily out of complete caution and because of the severe shut-in orders of state and local governments. It must be noted that either of these is permitted ONLY this year because of the pandemic threat besieging us. If you are live-streaming your Paschal-Resurrection services, Rev. Fathers, then following the dismissal of the Paschal Divine Liturgy, you may place your own basket on your Tetrapod in Church and encourage your faithful to gather their families around their own baskets at home. You will then read the Paschal Blessing Prayers and sprinkle your basket with Holy Water. At the same time, you should instruct your faithful to sprinkle their baskets at home, in the Name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, with the Holy Water they received in Church on the Feast of Epiphany/Theophany. You should also send a copy of the Paschal Blessing prayers to all of your parish family members so that they are able to read them together as a family before the blessing.