Lent is a time when we practice our faith in a very visible way, but do you know what to say when someone asks why they are handing out leaves at Church? This Lent we will be answering common questions that your friends, co-workers, families, or strangers may ask so that you feel able to answer. Follow us on Facebook @StJosephGolden.

Palm Sunday is one of my favorite Masses of the year and, from how full the pews are each year, I think a lot of people feel the same way. What do we love so much?

Well, the liturgy of Palm Sunday offers a big picture view of the mysteries we will contemplate during Holy Week from the establishment of the Eucharist, to the Passion and death of Jesus, and finally to the promise of His Resurrection. The readings reveal how each part of the Passion was announced by prophets and by Christ, confirming Jesus as the Messiah. We are left in hopeful suspense of Jesus’ Resurrection. It’s a powerful and emotional liturgy to say the least.

Oh, and we get Palms.

The important thing is to focus not just on getting a Palm, but also participating in the Procession (as much as a person is able to). The Procession is a visible display of homage and our loyalty to Jesus Christ, of our recognition of Him as King.

What you should not do with your Palm:

  1. Play with it during Mass – as tempting as it is to make your Palm into a cross while it is nice and supple, that activity is best left until after Mass has concluded.
  2. Throw away those little strings – once the Palms have been blessed, they are considered sacramentals, which can only be disposed of by burying or burning.
  3. Use your Palm as a talisman to ward off evil – blessed Palms (and all sacramentals) should not be used in superstitious practices. The intention of the Palms is to draw us closer to God and remind us of His power and love, rather than us thinking something like, “if I burn this Palm or keep this Palm in my house, then God will have to do something for me.”

What you should do with your Palm:

  1. Set them reverently aside during Mass after they have been blessed and the Procession is over.
  2. Turn them into a cross, braid, or leave them as is – one quick Google image search can reveal a plethora of Palm related crafts. Please remember to treat the Palms reverently and to properly dispose of (by burying or burning) any strings or pieces of palms that aren’t used.
  3. Keep the Palms in your house – Palms can be kept at home or at work as a sign of our faith in Jesus Christ. They can be placed with a Crucifix, with a religious painting, or other appropriate place.

So what do you say when someone asks why they are handing out leaves at Church? You can let them know that we receive the Palms to participate in honoring Jesus as he enters into Jerusalem and starts the events that will lead to His death and Resurrection so that we can be saved and have eternal life through Jesus Christ.

Also, if you haven’t had a chance to check out the Opening the Word series on Formed.org, the Palm Sunday episode is a great place to start. Dr. Edward Sri takes a closer look at Jesus’ prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane in the short video.